Licensing Issue Prompts Navarro Horse To Be Scratched From Indiana Grand Stakes

Loooch Racing Stables’ Duchess of Duke will be scratched from the $100,000 Merrillville Stakes at Indiana Grand on Wednesday because the Indiana Horse Racing Commission will not immediately license the horse’s trainer, Jorge Navarro, in the wake of the recent ruling against him in New Jersey for “conduct detrimental to racing.”

Navarro and Randal Gindi both were fined $5,000 by Monmouth Park stewards earlier this week for their profanity-laced celebration, captured on a cellphone video and posted on YouTube by a track patron. The video shows them in the clubhouse teletheater talking about “juice” and Gindi saying “I line my pockets with the bookie with another twenty thousand” after a horse trained by Navarro’s brother, Marciel Navarro, won an Aug. 4 race at Gulfstream Park.

Navarro told the Paulick Report the incident was in reaction to him constantly being referred to as a “juice” trainer and Gindi having had a previous altercation with the unidentified patron who took the cellphone video. He said neither he nor Gindi bets with bookmakers.

The ruling urged the New Jersey Racing Commission to increase the fines to $20,000 for Gindi and $10,000 for Navarro, since $5,000 was the maximum penalty stewards could impose. The matter is on the agenda at the regularly scheduled commission meeting Sept. 20.

“He hasn’t been licensed and he hasn’t applied yet,” Stan Bowker, senior state steward at Indiana Grand, said of Navarro. “He would have to be licensed if we allowed the horse to run tomorrow, which we aren’t.

“The thing at Monmouth Park is an integrity of racing issue, as far as we are concerned, so he would have to go before the commission,” Bowker added. “Second, we have a rule in our book that says we are not going to license anyone with a pending case before another jurisdiction.”

Bowker cited the Sept. 20 meeting of the New Jersey Racing Commission as the pending case.

“I talked to Navarro and said, ‘Look, you’ve got to get that cleared up, then we’ll consider your application,’” said Bowker.

The ruling against Navarro in New Jersey was not issued until after entries were taken for Wednesday’s Indiana Grand program. That prevented Loooch Racing Stables principal Ron Paolucci from moving the horse to another trainer. Under normal circumstances, a trainer licensed in other states can enter a horse and get licensed before the race in question is run.

“The trainer of record has to enter the horse to race, so anyone (Paolucci) would get now would not be the trainer of record,” said Bowker. “Plus there is the chain of custody issue.”

Paolucci purchased Duchess of Duke privately after her last race, a June 30 allowance at Woodbine after the 5-year-old mare by Successful Appeal finished second for trainer Barbara Minshall and owner Douglas J. Reddington. The mare, who has two wins, six seconds and two thirds from 17 career starts, has recorded five workouts for Navarro at Monmouth Park, where the trainer recently won his fifth consecutive training title and won a record 65 races from 158 starts. Duchess of Duke was entered against nine other Indiana-bred fillies and mares and was the third choice in the race on the morning line at 6-1.

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