A jockey who kicked his horse in the stomach before a race was suspended for 30 days and fined $1,000 by Philadelphia Park officials on Monday.
The decision against veteran jockey Victor Molina came three days after his 40-minute disciplinary hearing for kicking 2-year-old colt Yes Yes Ohyes. Molina, a 27-year veteran who’s been racing at Philadelphia Park since 1988, hoped for only a fine and was surprised by the severity of the penalties issued by the track’s stewards.
“The kick wasn’t what I’m about,” Molina said by phone. “The penalty doesn’t warrant what I did. I got punished a little harder than other ones. I think most people around the track, if you asked them, would say it was a little too harsh. People in the industry wouldn’t judge me the way I’ve been judged.”
Molina’s agent, David Yannuzzy, said he was considering an appeal. The suspension was retroactive to June 19 — the day after Molina was ejected from the park — and continues to July 18. Yannuzzy blamed the officials for overreacting because Molina’s kick was simulcast to tracks around the country and was live on racing channel TVG, prompting fans who saw the act to call the track and complain.
“They felt the people pulling the slots would be upset if he didn’t get enough time,” Yannuzzy said. “This is not the first time horses have been hit by jockeys at races. Every time it’s a $250 fine. That’s it. But they said, ‘Oh, we had all these hits on e-mail and TV.’”
Messages left at Philadelphia Park for track officials were not immediately returned, and a spokesman said the stewards had been asked not to comment on the decision.
Molina said the feisty horse flipped in the starting gate last Monday and his head struck the jockey flush in the chest. Molina’s chest went numb and he lost his cool.
Once Yes Yes Ohyes was scratched from the race, Molina removed the saddle and kicked the colt’s belly. Molina said the pain and threat of injury triggered his temper.
“I know there’s been a lot of attention because it was on TV,” Molina said. “I’m not trying to justify it. I shouldn’t have done what I did. Did I hurt the horse? Did I try and hurt the horse? That’s not what I did.”
The colt was gelded last week.
Molina has apologized to the owners, track officials and fans, and volunteered to talk to the media to show his remorse. Molina said he was he embarrassed that the kick stained what was a virtually unblemished reputation and record.
“I would have hoped they took into consideration my record and everything else,” he said. “To say people aren’t going to come and bet because I kicked a horse, that’s not going to happen. I’m sorry. I feel bad about it.”