New Mexico Officials Suspend Veteran Rider J.R. Valenzuela After Electrical Device Discovered - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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New Mexico Officials Suspend Veteran Rider J.R. Valenzuela After Electrical Device Discovered

Veteran jockey John Raul (J.R.) Valenzuela has been summarily suspended by New Mexico Racing Commission stewards after an electrical device was found in the Sunland Park jockeys room prior to Sunday's fourth race, the $95,000 Shue Fly Stakes for New Mexico-bred Quarter horses.

Valenzuela had been named to ride Mighty B Dragon for trainer Antoinette Gonzalez and the 21 Partnership after guiding the gelding to a second-place finish in the Shue Fly trials Dec. 23.

Prior to the horses leaving the saddling paddock for the Shue Fly, sources said, jockeys were taken back into the jockeys room. When jockeys returned to the paddock, Sergio Becerra Jr. was named to ride Mighty B Dragon, who wound up finishing fourth at odds of 18-1 behind Running Dragon.

Ismael “Izzy” Trejo, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, confirmed that an electrical device was found in the jockeys room and that Valenzuela was summarily suspended by stewards but could not comment further.

“Obviously, within 24 hours of an incident, the investigation is pending,” Trejo said. “Witnesses have to be interviewed.”

Valenzuela, who began riding in the 1970s, rides both Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses. The older brother of jockey Patrick Valenzuela, he hit a 1,000-win career milestone in 2016, his first year back in the saddle after a five-year absence.

Electrical devices, also called buzzers, batteries or machines, are used to stimulate horses and are illegal in horse racing.

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