Maryland racing stewards suspended jockey Jamie Scott Ryan and exercise rider Rene Maisonneuve yesterday after they were observed exchanging what was believed to be a battery after the second race at Laurel.
Past punishments for possession of a battery or electric prod (used to spur on horses) have ranged from a six-month suspension to banishment from racing for life.
Yesterday's incident began when state steward Clinton Pitts said he observed Ryan passing an object to Maisonneuve. Pitts confronted Maisonneuve and demanded to see what he had in his pocket.
Maisonneuve, 28 and a 13-year exercise rider, said, "I handed Mr. Pitts the battery. I had found the thing at the starting gate this morning and still had it in my pocket. I told Mr. Pitts that the object he saw exchanged between me and Jamie was a win ticket."
Ryan, 21, would not comment. He was taken off his mount, Dancing Jove, in the ninth race and told by the stewards that he was suspended pending a hearing before the state racing commission.
Maisonneuve said, "I've been suspended and have to get off the grounds like Jamie. I don't know why I ever kept that joint (battery). I guess now I'll have to take the fall."
Diamonds N Ashes was treated with Lasix for the first time yesterday and the gray gelding scored a half-length victory over You're Smart in the feature race at Laurel. Wildcat Forty Six was third, a length farther back.
Diamonds N Ashes was ridden by Danny Wright, who sent him after the pacesetting You're Smart early, then ran strongly after taking the lead entering the stretch. Diamonds N Ashes ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52 and paid $15.20. Coupled with You're Smart, the 1-7 exacta paid $81.20.