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Stewards To Hold Valhol Hearing

May 4, 1999

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Jockey Billy Patin is expected to testify Wednesday when the state racing stewards conduct a hearing into allegations that the rider carried an illegal electrical device when he rode Arkansas Derby winner Valhol.

``I would be very surprised if he didn’t testify,″ said Byron Freeland, attorney for the state Racing Commission. ``This is a civil matter. If you don’t defend yourself, that could be used against you.″

Valhol scored the first victory of his career when he won the Arkansas Derby by 4 1/2 lengths on April 10.

Five days later, Oaklawn Park President Charles J. Cella said the track had evidence that Patin ``may have been in possession of an electrical device during the race.″ He said officials first learned about the possibility shortly after the race became official.

The state Racing Commission ordered the track to suspend distribution of the purse and arranged for an investigation. Eventually, Valhol’s owner James D. Jackson went to court and a judge released the $300,000 first-place money. That check enabled Valhol to secure a spot in Saturday’s Kentucky Derb in which the gelding finished 15th in the 19-horse field.

Freeland said Jackson and trainer Dallas Keen had been sent notices about Wednesday’s hearing. At the least, he said, they will be represented by attorneys.

Jim Simpson, an attorney for Oaklawn, will present the evidence against Patin. J. Minos Simon of Lafayette, La., represents Patin. Each side will be allowed to cross-examine any witnesses.

``My perception is that Simon has lots of arguments,″ Freeland said.

Simon previously raised the question about whether racing officials who ban an electrical device could be interfering with a rider’s right to make a living.

Arkansas’ rules of racing saying, ``No electrical or mechanical device or other expedient designed to increase or decrease the speed of a horse, or that would tend to do so, other than the ordinary whip, shall be possessed by anyone or applied by anyone to a horse at any time on the grounds of a franchise holder during a matter whether in a race or otherwise.″

Simon said he had been told that an electrical device does not stimulate a horse as much as a whip.

``If that should prove out to be the case, there is no reasonable basis for a ban on such a device,″ he said.

Oaklawn’s evidence is almost certain to include a videotape that shows something falling from the area of Patin’s left hand and Valhol’s left shoulder shortly after the finish of the Arkansas Derby.

The race was the third of Valhol’s career. He paid $62.80 to win.

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