Jockey Mychel Sanchez, who was suspended for 60 days by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission for betting on horses other than those he ridden, is not a cheat or a race-fixer, his lawyer told the NDT Friday. On the contrary, attorney Alan Pincus said, Sanchez was struggling with a severe case of depression and took to gambling as an outlet. Pincus said that in all cases, Sanchez did his best to win the races in question, whether he bet against his own horse or not.
“It was clear he was doing his best,” Pincus said. “He was not staring at the races. He won several of the races in which he bet against his horses. The horse paid $37 in one race, $27 in another. He was just doing something crazy that only a psychiatrist can explain.
With the main track at Sanchez, Parx, Black Friday, the jockey was listed on two mounts at Laurel. After the Maryland Racing Commission learned of Pennsylvania’s suspension, Sanchez was removed from his mounts. The Maryland Jockey Club and 1/ST RACING released a statement later that day in which they said Sanchez had been banned indefinitely.
“After learning of serious allegations of illegal betting by jockey Mychel Sanchez, effective immediately 1/ST RACING will be instituting an indefinite ban against him from training or racing at any 1/ST RACING venue “, we read in a press release published by 1/ST COURSE. “Any decision regarding the reinstatement of Sanchez will be made at a later date. 1/ST RACING upholds the principles of integrity and responsibility, and we believe that there is no place in our sport for this kind of unethical activity. unethical and illegal.
Pennsylvania Racing Commission Thoroughbred division manager Tom Chuckas was not available to media. A call to his office went to voicemail and no one returned the call from NDT search for comment. There was nothing related to Sanchez’s suspension on the Pennsylvania Racing Commission’s website page listing the decisions. A formal decision will likely be made following a regular committee meeting next week.
If Chuckas made himself available, he would likely be asked to explain what appears to be a serious infraction that resulted in a suspension of only 60 days.
“Mychal is a direct shooter and he worked hard and with skill and talent he got into a very strong position,” Pincus said. “He is the sole support of his family here and in Venezuela and life, above ground, was great for him. But, he felt depressed. And he did nothing to deal with it. He was just turning inward. He turned to race betting for a very short time. I’m not a psychiatrist, but he was doing this to numb the pain.
Pincus said Sanchez opened a TVG account in his own name and started betting on Dec. 23 and made his final bets on Jan. 3. He went six for 28 in that span. During this time he also rode at Aqueduct and Laurel. Pincus said he wasn’t sure whether Sanchez also bet against his mounts in New York and Maryland or just Parx. If he bets against himself in New York or Maryland, he could face additional penalties from those states.
“We’re going to look at that,” said J. Michael Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission. “But right now he’s suspended in Pennsylvania so there’s no need to be in a rush because he’s not riding here regularly. But we’ll definitely take a look at it.
TVG employees noticed that the jockey was betting against his own horses and notified the relevant racing commissions.
Having, through his lawyer, admitted to betting against his own horses, Sanchez will not fight the suspension.
“He was suspended for 60 days from [Friday] to March 21,” Pincus said. “Obviously it was justified. We’re not going to appeal that.
Pincus said Sanchez once enrolled in a problem gambling program and also sought psychiatric help.
“He just did something because of a mental issue,” Pincus said. “People are responsible for their own actions, but it should be viewed with sympathy.”
Sanchez started racing in the United States in 2013 and was Parx’s top rider in 2020. According to Equibase, he won 940 races out of 6,097 mounts.