Driver-trainer Anthony Sapienza said yesterday he would not appeal the 30-day suspension imposed on him Saturday by the state racing judges at Rosecroft Raceway for "an unsatisfactory drive due to lack of effort."
Sapienza, 20, of Nanjemoy, Md., also said he was denied stall space at Ocean Downs in Berlin, Md., when he took two of his five harness-racing horses there on Sunday. As a result of Rosecroft management exercising its right on exclusion against Sapienza in an independent action Friday, he had to have all his horses off Rosecroft property by Sunday afternoon.
Driver Gusztav Toplenszky and four other persons also were excluded in what the track said was its best business interest. No specific reason was given. The judges took no action against Toplenszky.
Freestate Raceway in Laurel, which opens June 8, will not decide its allocation of stall space for two weeks, but sources say they expect Freestate to deny stalls to Sapienza.
Asked if he would follow Rosecroft's exclusion of Sapienza, the track president, Frank DeFrancis, said, "In regard to the exclusion concept, no track works in concert with another. Each track makes its determination, based on its right of ownership, who it will include or who, parenthetically, it will exclude."
The suspension at Rosecroft came as a result of Sapienza's driving of Adios Dewey, the 4-to-5 favorite in Thursday's first race. Adios Dewey, who was not heavily bet in the triple, finished out of the money, and the triple returned only $162.60, with the 2-to-1 second choice winning the race, Toplenszky's 53-to-1 longshot second and a 29-to-1 longshot third.
Sapienza also received five more days for causing interference in the first turn of that race. The 30-day suspension was the maximum the judges could impose under Maryland law without proving fraud. The 35 days started Saturday and end June 17.
Sapienza, who says he is being used as a scapegoat, has denied any wrongdoing. Asked why he decided not to appeal, Sapienza said, "I couldn't afford it, and I didn't think I could beat it anyway."
Sapienza has been driving for two years with 19 career victories and $31,542 in purse money through May 8.
He said he had been told by Billy Perkins, racing secretary at both Rosecroft and Ocean Downs, that Ocean Downs would stable his horses. But, Sapienza said, when he arrived there Sunday, he was told track management had decided to deny him stall space.
William E. Miller II, president of Rosecroft, said six horsemen, whom he declined to name, were denied stall space before the current meeting. He said a review will be made prior to granting stall space for Rosecroft's new fall-winter meeting starting in October.
"As a matter of track policy," Miller said, "we will exercise our right of exclusion anytime we feel a horseman is not making an honest effort."
DeFrancis said Freestate excluded one trainer last year and returned papers to the owners of about six other horses "when we thought there was the inconsistent performance of a horse."