Juan Vazquez suspension could keep him out of racing to 2025

Trainer Juan Vazquez began serving a suspension July 18, and unless his appeals succeed, he won’t be able to saddle another horse until 2025 at the earliest.

Vazquez was also fined $5,000 by Pennsylvania stewards.

The case began January 6. That’s when Vazquez shipped Shining Colors, a five-year-old Paynter mare owned by Just In Time Racing LLC, from Belmont Park to Parx Racing. Three days later on January 9, and without making a start at Parx, Shining Colors “was euthanized due to a severe case of laminitis,” according to the stewards’ ruling.

Two weeks subsequent to her euthanization, the stewards held a hearing at which evidence and testimony established “that the horse Shining Colors was suffering from this severe chronic condition and should never have been shipped to Parx Racing by owner/trainer Juan C. Vazquez.”

The stews found Vazquez “grossly negligent, cruel and abusive in shipping” the horse to Parx. Because of that, they suspended Vazquez’s owner and trainer licenses “for the term of said licenses.”

The licenses were due to expire January 26, 2025, so Vazquez will be out of racing until then unless his appeal succeeds. Because of reciprocity and because the ruling is a state ruling, other racing states will honor the PA ruling.

Four days after the ruling, on July 11, Vazquez, through his attorney, sought a hearing to appeal the ruling and requested a stay of the penalties until the hearing had taken place. While the request for a hearing was granted, that for a stay of the penalties was not.

State Director of Thoroughbred Racing Tom Chuckas found that Vazquez “has failed to make any showing, let alone a strong showing, that he is likely to prevail on the merits” on appeal, the new ruling said.

Additionally, the ruling said, Vazquez provided no evidence in seeking the stay that a failure to grant it would cause him irreparable harm.

“Any harm emanating from Ruling No. 22191PP arises from Appellant’s willful disregard to abide by the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission by subjecting the horse ‘Shining Colors’ to neglect, cruel and abusive mistreatment,” the ruling read.

Vazquez has won 774 races in his training career, and his runners have earned nearly $18 million.

But he’s had quite a checkered past, too, which includes having been arrested after scuffling with jockey Trevor McCarthy following a 2014 race, an odd case in which he appealed a stewards’ decision in a race but then failed to show up at the Racing Commission meeting for the appeal, and having been ruled off for a time in Maryland after his assistant, handling the barn while Vazquez was suspended, racked up three positives for the anabolic steroid stanozolol and a fourth for the sedative xylazine.

Vazquez’s page in the Thoroughbredrulings.com database lists 126 separate entries, though those rulings include a variety of minor offenses – horses late to the paddock, for example – alongside more consequential ones.