Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Philadelphia leading rider to return after averting ban


Fergal Lynch, the leading jockey at Philadelphia Park this year, will return to the races there on Saturday after a British disciplinary panel decided against suspending him for holding a horse nearly five years ago.

Lynch admitted to stopping his mount, Bond City, in a second-place finish in a $22,536 allowance race in August 2004. The offense would normally carry at least a 30-month suspension that, under reciprocity, would be recognized around the world.

Lynch also admitted to passing information to a ruled-off gambler and former owner, Miles Rodgers, and to making bets through Rodgers.

A British Horseracing Board summary said Lynch deliberately rode Bond City to lose, knowing that Rodgers had bet the horse to lose through Betfair.

The board has banned Rodgers for life, according to Racing Post.

The board’s disciplinary panel also suspended jockey Darren Williams for three months for giving Rodgers information in exchange for the promise of receiving mounts.

Under a plea deal, Lynch came away with an $80,519 fine and agreed not to seek a license in England for one year. He previously was banned for 18 months during a criminal race-fixing investigation that ended in a collapsed trial in 2007. During the trial, Lynch denied holding Bond City, and he was acquitted.

A British Horseracing Authority summary said the previous suspension and his recent admission of guilt were factors in its decision not to issue stiffer penalties.

The disciplinary panel chose “not to invite any other jurisdiction to impose any restriction on Lynch’s license,” and considered the plea agreement “an acceptable alternative to the ban which would have been imposed if [he] still wanted to race here.”

The Pennsylvania Racing Commission is reviewing Lynch’s case after receiving documents from the British Horseracing Authority late last week, said Justin Fleming, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Lynch has been serving a seven-day suspension for careless riding since July 7. He is named on four mounts on Saturday, including morning-line favorite Sky Haven in the $75,000 Caught In the Rain Stakes.