ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – At one of the biggest horse racing events of the year, jockey Raul Valenzuela, 20, was arrested for allegedly possessing an electrical device.
“The guy came outside from the jock’s room just looking at the other horses and another race, and they arrested him, they had undercover cops there and they grabbed him and took him.” Horse Trainer John Steinbaugh said.
The New Mexico State Racing Commission says Valenzuela was suspended in August for having the electric shock device.
Valenzuela won an appeal in court allowing him to participate in Monday’s race, but he was arrested moments before he was supposed to get on his horse. The arrest was based off the August incident.
“In our opinion it does affect the outcome, it can either recharge the speed of the horse or increase it, but shouldn’t be used on a horse period.” New Mexico State Racing Commission Director Vince Mares said.
In recent years the Ruidoso Downs Race Track has gotten national attention for alleged cheating and illegal use of drugs on animals.
In March, the New York Times reported on an undercover PETA investigation. In the article, the animal-rights group said that it caught another well-known trainer bragging about cheating.
That well-known trainer said it was common for trainers in Ruidoso to use electric shock devices, claiming everyone had one.
The commission says that since the New York Times’ publication of the PETA investigation, they’ve taken action. They’ve increased drug testing and introduced proactive measures.
One trainer says he’s disappointed how the commission handled the latest situation. “It hurts everybody. They hurt the racing, they hurt the whole program yesterday and made a big spectacle of it,” said Steinbaugh. “We are not all cheaters.”
In addition to facing criminal charges, Valenzuela could lose his jockey’s license.