Attorney For Suspended Jockey Mychel Sanchez: 'He Is Not A Criminal ... He's A Person Who Needs Help' - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Attorney For Suspended Jockey Mychel Sanchez: ‘He Is Not A Criminal … He’s A Person Who Needs Help’

The case against jockey Mychel J. Sanchez, suspended for 60 days by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission for betting against his own horses, is not the story many of us might think it is, according to the rider's attorney, Alan Pincus.

Pincus confirmed that Sanchez opened a TVG account in his own name in late December 2021. He said that Sanchez made numerous bets over a period of about 10 days, including wagering on horses that were racing against his own mounts. But the attorney said Sanchez rode to win in those races and in fact registered two upsets at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., during the period in question, one at 12-1 odds and the other at 18-1.

“These are extremely weird circumstances,” Pincus said. “You can never totally understand how the human mind works. People who may appear to be on top of the world – like the tennis star Naomi Osaka – can be suffering from depression. You don't know.

“Mychel Sanchez is suffering from some type of depression,” he said. “I'm not a psychiatrist, but he's someone who needs help. He started betting. Not in any cheating way, just as a way of coping with the pain he was experiencing. He's been feeling low for some time and it's been building up in him.

“He's doing this, and fortunately TVG notices who it is and what's going on and they alert the racing commission,” said Pincus. “It's inexplicable. He had races where he actually bet against his own horse, then went out and won the race. One horse paid $37 to win. Another race he bets against himself and he won the race on a horse that paid $27. He's not pulling horses, he's not doing it for evil purposes, he's doing it for crazy purposes, inexplicable purposes. But obviously it is against the rules and you can't do that.”

Sanchez rode the $38.60 winner Jakarta at Parx on Dec. 28 and the $27.40 winner No Fooling Dude on Dec. 29, according to Equibase charts.

TVG confirmed its role in alerting racing officials of Sanchez's wagering activities.

“As part of TVG's regular monitoring of new accounts and account activity, members of our team noticed wagers that warranted us suspending the account in question and alerting the regulatory authorities in the states where those races occurred,” a statement from the advance-deposit wagering platform said. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities investigating these activities.”

Pincus said the penalty was fair, given the circumstances.

“If you are betting against your own horse and stiff him, now you are talking about being barred forever,” he said. “That didn't happen.”

Sanchez has been ordered to undergo treatment facilitated by the Jockeys' Guild, Pincus said.

“He has started a treatment program,” Pincus said. “He is not a criminal. He was not pulling horses. He's a person who needs help.”

He also said regulators in Maryland and New York may be investigating the matter. Sanchez rode at several tracks in December, including Parx, Laurel Park in Maryland, Aqueduct in New York, and Gulfstream Park in Maryland.

A native of Venezuela who first rode in the U.S. in 2013, Sanchez was co-leading rider at Parx in 2019 and leading rider in 2020. He was a top 10 rider at Monmouth Park, Laurel Park and Parx in 2021. Sanchez compiled 940 career wins in the U.S. from 6,097 mounts.

1/ST Racing, which operates Laurel and Gulfstream, issued a statement saying Sanchez has been suspended indefinitely from riding at its tracks.

“After learning of the serious allegations of illegal wagering on the part of jockey Mychel Sanchez, effective immediately 1/ST Racing will institute an indefinite ban against him from training or racing at any 1/ST Racing venue,” the statement said. “Any decision regarding Sanchez's reinstatement will be made at a later time. 1/ST Racing stands on the principles of integrity and accountability, and we believe there is no place in our sport for this kind of unethical and illegal activity.”

“Although he needs to be punished and needs treatment,” Pincus said, “it shouldn't be fatal punishment.”

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