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PA Suspends Jockey Sanchez 60 Days for Wagering

1/ST RACING, which operates Laurel Park, condemned the rider's alleged impropriety.

Jockey Mychel J. Sanchez

Jockey Mychel J. Sanchez

Jerry Dzierwinski/Maryland Jockey Club

Jockey Mychel J. Sanchez was replaced aboard a scheduled mount Jan. 21 at Laurel Park after receiving a 60-day suspension in Pennsylvania, reportedly for a violation involving wagering.

Ray Paulick of Paulick Report first reported the suspension, noting that J. Michael Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, had been notified that Sanchez was suspended for wagering on horse races. Asked for specifics, Hopkins told Paulick, "You can't bet against yourself."

Hopkins confirmed the suspension to BloodHorse Thursday afternoon but said he had not seen the ruling. He added that a Maryland investigation is also underway.

"We're looking into it," he said. "We've not had a hearing for him yet."

The Pennsylvania suspension was honored in Maryland due to reciprocity, Hopkins indicated.

1/ST RACING, which operates Laurel Park as the Maryland Jockey Club, issued a statement Thursday afternoon, condemning the rider's alleged impropriety.

"After learning of the serious allegations of illegal wagering on the part of jockey Mychel Sanchez, effective immediately, 1/ST RACING will institute an indefinite ban against him from training or racing at any 1/ST RACING venue," the statement said. "Any decision regarding Sanchez's reinstatement will be made at a later time. 1/ST RACING stands on the principles of integrity and accountability, and we believe there is no place in our sport for this kind of unethical and illegal activity."

The specifics of the activity are unknown. The ruling had not been published on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website nor the Association of Racing Commissioners International website by 4 p.m. ET Thursday.

Tom Chuckas, director of Thoroughbred horse racing for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, did not reply to two email requests for a copy of the ruling by late afternoon Thursday.

Twice the leading rider at Parx Racing, Sanchez has won 940 Thoroughbred races in North America since beginning his riding career in 2013. In each of the last five years, he has won 118 or more races on a calendar basis, with his mounts making more than $3 million yearly.

He has ridden primarily at Parx and sparingly at Laurel Park and Aqueduct Racetrack this year.

Reached by BloodHorse, Sanchez's agent, Scott Silver, said he would inquire with Sanchez if he wished to comment and if there are plans to appeal. Sanchez did not immediately return the message Silver said he would forward. 

Alan Pincus, an attorney for the jockey, said Sanchez opened a TVG account in his own name in late December 2021 and made numerous bets over a period of about 10 days, including wagering on horses that were racing against his own mounts. But the attorney said Sanchez rode to win those races and scored some upsets during the period in question.

"He's doing this, and fortunately TVG notices who it is and what's going on and they alert the racing commission," Pincus told Paulick. "It's inexplicable. He had races where he actually bet against his own horse, then went out and won the race. One horse paid $37 to win. Another race he bets against himself and he won the race on a horse that paid $27. He's not pulling horses, he's not doing it for evil purposes, he's doing it for crazy purposes, inexplicable purposes. But obviously it is against the rules and you can't do that."

TVG confirmed its role in alerting racing officials of Sanchez's wagering activities in the Paulick Report story.

"He has started a treatment program," Pincus added to Paulick. "He is not a criminal. He was not pulling horses. He's a person who needs help."