“Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time. Don’t do it.”
Those lyrics are from the theme song of a 1970’s television show about a street smart undercover detective named Tony Baretta. They should be taken as words of wisdom for jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr.
The Puerto Rico-born Arroyo started his career in 1999 in New York where he became one of the leading apprentices in the nation. He transitioned into a successful journeyman, but his off-the-track struggles came to the forefront when he was sent to jail for assault in 2003. In 2009, there was an arrest for drug possession, and after spending a year in jail, he lost his riding license.
Arroyo began a comeback in 2012, first as an exercise rider in Kentucky and then as the leading rider at Turfway Park. Arroyo also rode at Oaklawn Park and in New Mexico, rebuilding his career and overcoming more adversity when his family home in Kentucky burned to the ground.
Moving forward to 2016, Arroyo had a successful Del Mar summer meet, riding 11 winners to finish 11th in the jockey standings. After winning just three races at Del Mar in 2017, Arroyo missed all of 2018 due to various issues, the most serious being a broken ankle that reportedly required three surgeries.
This summer has been anything but smooth for Arroyo. He was handed a four-day suspension on July 19 for a riding infraction in the second race on the second day of the Del Mar meet (July 18). Arroyo appealed that suspension and was allowed to continue to ride until there is a hearing.
On July 27, Arroyo was given a seven-day suspension for causing interference in a race on July 25. He was also fined $100 on July 25 for driving a golf cart in a restricted area in the Del Mar stable area and another $100 the same day for failing to follow instructions of a morning outrider. Once again Arroyo appealed the suspension and was allowed to continue to ride.
On Wednesday, Arroyo won the $100,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes aboard Bulletproof One. Thursday morning, Arroyo was removed from his mounts by the board of stewards when he tested positive for a prohibited substance that morning. A second test also conducted on Thursday morning did not show the presence of the prohibited substance.
According to the Daily Racing Form, Arroyo’s attorney Bing Bush Jr. requested and received a court order from the San Diego Superior Court on Friday allowing him to resume riding until recent drug tests can be analyzed by a California Horse Racing Board-sanctioned lab. Documents provided by Bush showed Arroyo had similar incidents in April and May when three preliminary drug tests showed the presence of prohibited substances but were proven to be inaccurate by the official laboratory for the CHRB.
Also in July, the stewards requested a meeting with Arroyo, and he appeared before the stewards wearing a towel around his waist and one on his shoulders. Arroyo was ordered back to the jockey’s room to “change into something just a bit more proper.”
Arroyo won Friday’s $100,000 Graduation Stakes at Del Mar aboard Square Deal, but the horse was disqualified for interference and placed third. When the change was announced, Arroyo immediately went to the phone next to the winner’s circle that is a direct line to the stewards, but when there was no answer he slammed the phone down in disgust.
On Saturday, Arroyo was handed a 10-day suspension for his ride in the Graduation Stakes. Arroyo’s agent Mike Ciani told the Racing Form that Arroyo will once again appeal the latest suspension so he can continue to ride until there is a hearing.
Saturday afternoon, Arroyo rode Amalfi Sunrise to a very impressive victory in the Grade II $200,000 Sorrento Stakes, making her one of the leading contenders for the Grade I Del Mar Debutante that will be run over Labor Day weekend.
Arroyo is named on four horses Wednesday, four horses on Thursday, and two horses on Friday despite having amassed 21 outstanding suspension days and four court-ordered injunctions in just 15 days of racing.
Sunday night, at the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) “jockey karaoke night” fundraiser, Arroyo sang Living La Vida Loca (translation — living the crazy life) with several of his fellow riders. Appropriate song selection, don’t you think?
Baffert Unveils top juvenile
The Grade II Best Pal Stakes on Saturday is the major steppingstone to the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Labor Day weekend, but the favorite for the Futurity may have run last Sunday.
Eight Rings, trained by Bob Baffert (who else?), destroyed a promising field of Maidens by open lengths and earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure in the process. That is the second highest Beyer Speed Figure by a two-year-old this year behind Dennis’ Moment’s 97 Beyer Speed Figure earned at Ellis Park on July 27.
Eight Rings galloped out like he will only improve at the seven-furlong distance of the Del Mar Futurity.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Del Mar, Thursday, Race 3 — Fast Cotton (No. 1). The post position is no bargain, but this improving gelding lost all chance at the start at Los Alamitos July 14. He loves Del Mar and figures to show much more tactical speed with a clean start.
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