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Stevens Uses Whip Too Much

Jockey: Suspension for incident in England may not affect his Hollywood Gold Cup status.


There was good and bad news for jockey Gary Stevens in his final day in England on Friday.

After winning the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot with Predappio, who beat 1996 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Pilsudski by a head, Stevens was given a two-day suspension for excessive use of the whip in the next race.

Stevens was cited after finishing second aboard Danetime "for using the whip excessively and not allowing Danetime time to respond."

The suspension covers June 29-30 and Stevens has a pair of very important mounts on June 29 at Hollywood Park. He is scheduled to ride Gentlemen in the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup and Donna Viola in the $300,000 Beverly Hills Handicap.

Chances are, however, that Stevens will be able to keep both mounts. California has a designated-race rule, which allows suspended jockeys to compete in the more important races. The Gold Cup and Beverly Hills Handicap are both Grade I events.

"If the Americans want to allow Gary Stevens to ride on June 29, there would be no objection from the British Jockey Club," said Malcolm Wallace, the Jockey Club's director of regulation.

Hollywood Park steward Pete Pedersen said the British Jockey Club's attitude would be taken into consideration.

"If they feel that way, it would make a great deal of difference," said Pedersen, who serves on the board of stewards with George Slender and Tom Ward. "There's no reason we wouldn't consider that and that would be very significant to us. We'll try to use common sense."

Stevens, who didn't argue with the ruling, could serve the two days later.

"I deserved the ban," said the jockey, who will be at Belmont Park today to ride Sharp Cat for trainer Wayne Lukas in the $200,000 Mother Goose. "The horse was responding, but I have to face the music and I respect the rules. But, I will be back [in England] to try again next year.

"The rules are different in the U.S. I'm not saying we shouldn't adopt them, but there is a fine line. When you're giving 100% and the money's down, the last thing you do is count the [whip] strokes. I have a reputation in the U.S. as being someone who respects the animals."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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