David Cohen, battling for the leading jockey title with Ricardo Santana Jr. at Oaklawn Park, has been suspended 60 days by stewards at the Hot Springs, Ark., racetrack for a different kind of fight. A stewards ruling posted Thursday on the Association of Racing Commissioners International website alleges that Cohen “deliberately” whipped fellow jockey Edgar Morales several times during the eighth race on April 6.
Cohen, aboard Bolita Boyz, was floated wide into the stretch of the six-furlong race by No Funny Biz, ridden by Morales. The two raced in tight quarters as a team through the stretch, with Cohen applying left-handed strokes of the whip to his mount and apparently also striking Morales.
Bolita Boyz finished fourth as part of an entry favored at 4-5 odds. No Funny Biz finished fifth at 10-1.
When the race ended and the riders returned to the jockeys room, according to the ruling, Morales confronted Cohen, telling stewards he told him: “You whipped me more than you did your horse.”
Morales said he had four welts on his right thigh from Cohen's whip, telling stewards that “it was not an accident, he meant to do it.”
According to Morales, Cohen told him, “Be patient and don't take me wide.”
The ruling quotes Cohen as saying he would not deliberately hit another jockey with his riding crop/whip and that if it happened it was accidental.
The ruling also states that “several jockeys and valets testified they had overheard a discussion in the jockeys room and that they considered Mr. Cohen's admission as indicative of a deliberate action … that it wasn't an accident as sometimes can happen in close quarters during a race.”
Stewards sided with Morales, finding that the action by Cohen was deliberate and in violation of ARC Rule 2163. “By striking another jockey in a race,” the ruling states, “in addition to violating ARC Rule 2163 (c)(3)(f), the stewards considered Mr. Cohen's actions as jeopardizing the safety of other jockeys and horses in the race as a jockey can lose his balance and fall off a horse as a result of the actions by another jockey or a horse can fall and injury other horses and/or jockeys.”
The suspension is to run from April 27 through June 25.
Cohen also was suspended two days, April 25-26, for his ride aboard Petrov in Oaklawn's eighth race on April 7. That ruling cited Cohen for “careless riding” while “taking the running path away” from Summer Revolution at the top of the stretch.
The Equibase chart footnotes do not mention either the April 6 or April 7 incidents.
Bill Castle, agent for Cohen, said he is appealing both suspensions and that Cohen intends to ride during the upcoming Churchill Downs meeting.
Cohen is currently second in the Oaklawn jockey standings, two behind Santana, with 59 wins from 258 mounts.
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