NEW YORK — Jockey Rajiv Maragh was suspended for seven days for careless riding in the Belmont Stakes, when his horse started a series of collisions that nearly caused Kentucky Derby winnerAnimal Kingdom to fall just after the start.
The suspension was announced Wednesday by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board after the racing stewards met with the riders involved.
A few strides into the Belmont, Maragh, aboardIsn't He Perfect, veered left from the No. 11 post intoMucho Macho Man, who in turned bumpedAnimal Kingdom. The force sent the Derby winner and jockey John Velazquez into Monzon, with Animal Kingdom stumbling badly and Velazquez nearly falling off the horse.
The day after the race, in which Animal Kingdom fell way back before finishing sixth, Velazquez blamed Maragh for causing the Derby winner's defeat.Isn't He Perfect finished last in the 12-horse field.
"That's what I think," Velazquez said Sunday. "That's why I'm so frustrated. It shouldn't happen. He should not be playing something like that in a race like this. It's stupidity and it shouldn't happen."
The stewards agreed, and handed down a 10-day suspension. Maragh waived an appeal, which reduced the suspension to seven days. The ban starts Sunday.
Maragh rodeMucho Macho Man in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but was taken off the horse before the Belmont and replaced byRamon Dominguez.
Maragh said the day after the race that "at no time did I premeditate interfering with anyone. I have nothing vengeful against them.
"It's definitely an unfortunate incident," he added.
Ruler On Ice, a 24-1 long shot, won the Belmont.