Laurel Refuses Navarro Entry In De Francis Dash

Sal Sinatra, president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, said the racing office at Laurel Park denied entry to a horse trained by Jorge Navarro in Saturday's $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash because of the controversial cellphone video of Navarro and one of his owners, Randal Gindi, taken last month at Monmouth Park and posted on YouTube. In the video, Gindi and Navarro were celebrating a Gulfstream Park win by the trainer's brother, Marciel Navarro, with Gindi making references to “the juice man” and saying “I line my pockets with the bookie with another twenty thousand.” Navarro commented on the video, “That's the way we do it. We f – – k everyone.”

Navarro and Gindi were each fined the maximum $5,000 by stewards for “conduct detrimental to racing” with the recommendation that the fines be increased to $10,000 and $20,000, respectively, by the New Jersey Racing Commission, which intends to take up the matter at its next meeting Sept. 20.

Navarro has been leading trainer at Monmouth Park five consecutive years, most recently breaking his own record by saddling 65 winners from 158 starts during the 2017 meet. Gindi was the New Jersey track's third leading owner by wins in 2017, with 10 from 19 starts.

Navarro denied using illegal drugs in horses and said neither he nor Gindi bet with bookmakers.

Sinatra said it was the decision of The Stronach Group, owner of Laurel Park, not to accept the entry of Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap winner El Deal, trained by Navarro and owned by Albert and Michelle Crawford.

A second horse entered by Navarro, John J. Reilly Handicap winner Chublicious, was denied entry but subsequently transferred to trainer Claudio Gonzalez, who has other horses for the owner, David Gruskos. Gonzalez trained Chublicious previously and Sinatra said the entry was accepted after being convinced the horse would stay with Gonzalez after the De Francis Dash.

“It's because of the whole situation in New Jersey,” said Sinatra. “It's too chaotic right now. Our commission reached out to Frank Zanzuccki (executive director of the New Jersey Racing Commission) to get more information, and we didn't feel comfortable taking the entry until that is cleared up. It's too cloudy right now. We're just trying to do the best we can for racing. ”

Navarro is licensed in Maryland, having run one horse in July, Sinatra said. On Wednesday, Duchess of Duke, a horse entered for Loooch Racing Stable at Indiana Grand racetrack was scratched from the $100,000 Merrillville Stakes after stewards there told the trainer they would not issue him a trainer's license until the New Jersey matter is fully resolved.

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