Jockey suspended in Texas 25 times for breaking rules could race again

A jockey suspended from horse racing for five years and fined $25,000 for using an electronic buzzer on a horse at the Sam Houston Race Park has a history of suspensions in Texas, records obtained by Ted Oberg Investigates show.

Jockey Roman Chapa, also charged with a felony for allegedly using the buzzer on 'Quiet Acceleration' in a January 17 race, has been suspended by Texas racing officials 25 times since 1993, records show.

Three of Chapa's suspensions were for fighting and another was for cursing at a Texas race official at a track -- while he was under suspension for another violation. Many of the other suspensions were for violations of racing protocol.

Chapa has also been fined 29 times in Texas since 1993, according to records.

Chapa, 43, declined to comment to ABC-13 about his current case or his prior suspensions for racing with electric shock devices or off-track animal abuse allegations.

Even after all those suspensions, Chapa could once again race on a Texas track.

"The longest suspension is five years," said David Rollinson, the chief steward at the Sam Houston Race Park who makes sure the state's rules are being followed.

Only the legislature -- if they pass a law allowing it -- can ban a jockey for life, Rollinson said.

"That's the legislature, that's the rules of racing," he said, pointing out that racing officials slapped the toughest penalty on Chapa they could.

The commission could increase his fine to $100,000 but cannot increase the time of the suspension, Rollinson told Ted Oberg Investigates.

Texas' racetracks are not the only places that Chapa has run into trouble.

He's been suspended for using prohibited devices before in New Mexico.

The New Mexico case is so widely known that horsemen were caught trading that story in 2013 by undercover investigators working for the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

From the PETA Video: "That silly-ass Roman Chapa put it in his mouth in New Mexico. They came in to shake him down, he stuck it in his mouth, then he spit it out in his wash bucket."

Chapa's attorneys declined comment on the PETA video. See the video and the Ted Oberg Investigates report above.

While a five-year suspension is the toughest penalty Texas can dole out, Rollinson, who was raised in the horse racing industry in Ireland, said that Chapa could have faced harsher penalties elsewhere.

"As you can probably tell, I am not from this part of the world," Rollinson said. "Where I am from, the penalties are far greater."
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