Awaiting Monmouth Park Stewards’ Decision, Jockey Montalvo Claims Crop Use Was For Safety Purposes

Jockey Carlos Montalvo is awaiting word from stewards at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., on whether he will be sanctioned for using his riding crop in a July 11 race en route to a three-length victory aboard M I Six in a maiden claiming event.

The New Jersey Racing Commission adopted strict rules that went into effect this year stating that the riding crop “shall only be used when necessary to control the horse to avoid injury to the horse or rider.” The crop is not allowed for encouragement.

Montalvo used the crop at least three times with his right hand on July 11, according to the Equibase chart footnotes, which read: “M I Six dueled two wide for the lead, drifted out entering the turn, had the rider go to a right-handed whip three times, then dueled with Military Drill in upper stretch, put a head in front and drew clear in the final sixteenth, ridden out.”

Montalvo told the Paulick Report he sensed M I Six was preparing to bolt to the outside fence, something he was told to expect by the gelding’s exercise rider. Montalvo said he used the crop as a preventive device to protect himself, his fellow riders and the other horses in the race.

The jockey said he was called in to a July 16 hearing before having the benefit of a film review of the race with stewards. He was represented at the hearing by attorney Drew Mollica, who said Montalvo “should be congratulated for his actions, not sanctioned.” Montalvo faces a five-day suspension, $500 fine and M I Six could be disqualified from purse money.

This is the first known case in New Jersey where stewards have to determine whether the use of the riding crop was a legitimate safety issue.

Mollica said M I Six, a 4-year-old Mission Impazible gelding owned and trained by Riquelvis Grullon, was fractious throughout the saddling process and in the walking ring before the July 11 race. The aforementioned exercise rider testified at the hearing, Mollica added.

M I Six was subsequently entered in a July 21 race at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania but was a vet scratch.

The racing commission’s presiding steward, Steven Pagano, declined to answer questions about the new regulation, referring all media inquiries to the office of the New Jersey attorney general. A spokesman from that office stated that “the new rule does not specify what kind of safety concerns would result in approved use of the riding crop by a jockey. The NJRC’s presiding steward has been conducting meetings with the jockeys and exercise riders to explain the new riding crop rule and answer questions.”

Meanwhile, no hearing date has been set for Flavien Prat, the rider of Hot Rod Charlie, who was disqualified from a victory in the Grade 1, $1-million Haskell Stakes on July 17. Hot Rod Charlie drifted in after moving to the lead in mid-stretch, causing Midnight Bourbon to clip heels and unseating jockey Paco Lopez. Mandaloun, beaten a nose by Hot Rod Charlie, was declared the winner.

Prat has been quoted as saying he felt as though he could have prevented Hot Rod Charlie from drifting in if he was permitted to use the riding crop.


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