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Apprentice Espinoza must serve 10-day suspension

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Apprentice jockey Assael Espinoza, who has been in the first five in the jockey standings at all Southern California meetings since late spring, has lost an appeal of a 10-day suspension issued in August and will miss the bulk of the upcoming Del Mar meeting.

Espinoza can ride the first two days of the meeting, Friday and Saturday, and will resume riding on the final four days of the meeting – Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. He is suspended for Sunday and Monday, Nov. 15-18 and Nov. 22-25.

Espinoza, 18, was giving the original suspension for careless riding that led to a two-horse spill on Aug. 4. One horse did not survive the spill. Jockey Corey Nakatani suffered an injury in the accident and has not ridden since.

Espinoza is rated as a leading candidate for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding apprentice of the year. Espinoza tied for the riding title with fellow apprentice Heriberto Figueroa at the Los Alamitos summer meeting. 

Espinoza, who began riding in February, tied for fifth in the standings at the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting, was fourth at the Del Mar summer meeting, second to Figueroa at the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Los Alamitos in September, and third at the Santa Anita autumn meeting, which ended on Sunday.

◗ Trainer Hector Palma has been fined $5,000 for a fourth violation of a medication overage in the last year.

In a ruling published last week, Santa Anita stewards cited Palma for an overage of the analgesic phenylbutazone found in a post-race test taken from Midnight Lilly when the 4-year-old filly finished second in a $16,000 claimer at Del Mar on Aug. 23.

In August 2017, Palma was fined $3,000 and suspended for seven days after one of his starters at Santa Anita in May of that year tested in excess of the permitted level of the tranquilizer acepromazine.

In the ruling published on Nov. 2, the stewards recommended that Palma be suspended f or seven days if he has a violation before the end of this year of a medication rated in the Class C category by the American Racing Commissioners International. Overages for phenylbutazone and Lasix are rated as Class C violations.

◗ Trainer Steve Knapp has been fined $750 after Ciao Luna, the winner of the eighth race at Los Alamitos on Sept. 6, tested in excess of the permitted level of phenylbutazone. Ciao Luna won a $16,000 claimer for non-winners of two.


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