Jockey Leo Salles has been suspended through Dec. 5 by stewards at Woodbine

Woodbine stewards have issued a 4 1/2-month suspension to jockey Leo Salles for “careless riding” after a trio of safety-related incidents during the first month of racing at the Ontario track. The 27-year-old native of Brazil told the Toronto Sun he won’t appeal the ruling, despite believing the punishment is particularly harsh.

“I think I deserve some days, but I just think it was extreme,” Salles told the Sun. “I apologized. I care about my friends (the other jocks). I just think it is part of horse racing. We know this game is dangerous and this could happen to everybody.”

Salles ended the 2020 season at Woodbine with a 45-day suspension for “endangering the health and safety of another jockey and his horse” on Aug. 9, which was shortened due to COVID, jockey Rafael Hernandez’ agent Anthony Esposito told the Paulick Report.

On opening day of the 2021 season on June 12, Salles was involved in incidents in back-to-back races. One earned him a three-day penalty for causing interference, while the second instance of interference a race later earned Salles 10 days and sent Hernandez to the hospital with a hairline vertebral fracture.

“There’s a fine line between aggressive and careless and he blurs that line,” Esposito said of Salles.

On July 11, Salles’ mount was traveling near the rear of the field when he angled out into the path of an oncoming horse, causing rider Keveh Nicholls to be unseated. Stewards issued an immediate suspension on July 11, pending review, and Nicholls resumed riding several days later.

The stewards ruled on July 15 that Salles will be suspended through Dec. 5, the end of Woodbine’s 2021 season. After the suspension, Salles said he plans to ply his trade overseas in the Middle East this winter, where he’s ridden before, then to hopefully return to Woodbine for the 2022 season. In the meantime, he hopes to find a job galloping in the mornings at Woodbine.

“I had a very nice career outside of North America, racing in over 20 countries. But I love Canada. My daughter is Canadian. I love Woodbine. I love the horses over here. I love how the trainers treat me. Everything just happened so quick,” Salles told the Sun. “I just think my riding style doesn’t match with the rules they have up here.”

Read more at the Toronto Sun.



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