Baytown Valleygirl was racing to the outside of favored Golden Hughes at the top of the stretch in the fifth race on the June 30 program at Mountaineer Park in Chester, W.Va., when the 2-year-old Klimt filly’s rider, Odhair Mayta, lost control of his whip, which fell to the track.
Luis Rivera, aboard Golden Hughes, began urging his mount with left-handed encouragement, and she appeared to put her head in front briefly.
After losing his whip, Mayta gave his filly a hand ride, but then approaching the sixteenth pole ripped the goggles off of his head with his right hand and immediately began slapping the filly on the shoulder and showing her the goggles between strikes. She poked her head in front and edged away gradually to win by a neck.
It was the first victory in six starts for Baytown Valleygirl, trained by Paul McEntee for Wagner Racing and McEntee Racing. Mayta was winning for the 17th time in 99 starts at Mountaineeer this year, putting him sixth in the rider standings.
This wouldn’t be the first time that a resourceful jockey used goggles to encourage a mount. In 2015, Jose Lezcano was cleared by the New York State Gaming Commission for using his goggles on a mount after dropping his whip. A steward who said Lezcano violated two rules was overruled by a 5-0 commission vote, according to a report in Bloodhorse.com.
West Virginia Racing Rules state that “no electrical or mechanical device or other expedient designed to increase or retard the speed of a horse, other than the riding crop approved by the stewards, shall be possessed by anyone, or applied by anyone to the horse at any time on the grounds…whether during a race or otherwise.”
Are goggles an “expedient”? We’ll leave that one up to the stewards.
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