Masio # 2, ridden by JD Acosta, ousted Girls And Guns # 6 and gave coach Richard Vega his # 1,000 career win at Parx Racing in 2016
Coach / owner Ricardo Vega, who runs the Richard Vega Racing Stable, was suspended on June 29 for 730 days for having 21 loaded syringes, 18 needles, a filled IV bag and an IV catheter. Vega was unceremoniously suspended by emergency ordinance at the end of May after prohibited items were found in a large-scale raid in Parx, although earlier judgments did not provide many details about the items found.
The ruling, issued by the Pennsylvania Stewards Board, said the contraband was found in a locked Vega tack room, although Vegas attorney Alan Pincus previously said the tack room was used by multiple coaches and kept unlocked.
The ruling did not specify which substances were in the equipment found in the raid. Pincus said he had received no test results on the substances, but cited comments made by executive director of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, Tom Chuckas, at a meeting of the commission on June 29 that the May raids had revealed “nothing substantial”.
The suspension is scheduled to last from June 29, 2021 to June 28, 2023. Pincus told the Paulick report that he had appealed the stewards’ June 29 ruling to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
Vega has not saddled a horse since May 19, as the provisional suspension was issued prior to the stewards hearing on the matter. Pincus has also filed a motion to stay the summary suspension, saying that as of July 6, the courts have not yet decided whether Vega will be allowed to exercise while the appeal process is being worked out.
Vega is a member of the Parx Hall of Fame and has coached winners of over 1,100 races with profits of more than $ 19.5 million. He earned his coaching license in 1992 after entering the business as a hotwalker in Florida in the 1980s and working as an assistant to Al Hinson. He is a graded stakes place trainer and conditioner of Dulce Realidad, Philadelphia Park’s Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year Old Filly 2008 and 1999 Philadelphia Park Claiming Horse of the Year Open Ice Hit. Vega has trained horses for Dun Roamin Farm, nominee for President of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Sal DeBunda, who represents the THA as a member of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.
State investigators raided six barns, six saddle rooms, five grooms quarters, and five outside saddle rooms, according to a report presented at a regular meeting of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission on May 25. They also passed 66 exams outside of competitions. While unable to provide details, the commission’s executive director, Tom Chuckas, said at the meeting that the raid “a significant amount of contraband… drug trafficking was either untagged, compounded, or expired.
“I’m sorry to say that there was contraband that had no business on the back, like needles and syringes and some other things that we discovered,” said Chuckas.
The Pennsylvania State Code prohibits any non-licensed veterinarian from possessing syringes, needles, or injectable medication on the back stretch.
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