Jockey Apologizes for Mounted Fight

Jockey Eriluis Vaz, one of two riders involved in a mounted fight during Philadelphia Park's fifth race Jan. 8, has issued a public apology for what he terms "bad judgment" as he awaits a hearing before the stewards along with fellow rider Ademar Santos.

"I would like to ... say how sorry I really am for the incident that happened between myself and Mr. Santos," Vaz wrote in a statement that was issued to the horse racing television network TVG. "I made a terrible mistake reacting the way I did during the race the other day."

Vaz and Santos face a stewards' ruling after coming to blows during the running of a race for $7,500 claimers at Philadelphia Park. Vaz was racing along the rail on the Luis Calderon-trained Divine Light and sent his mount toward the outside, causing Santos, aboard John Dunn trainee Mi Helena, to be pinched between horses. As Vaz corrected his mount, Santos stood in the irons and turned his head to speak to Vaz.

"I asked, 'Man, why you go like that?'" Santos told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

After Santos spoke to Vaz, Vaz punched Santos in the face. Santos swung back, then Vaz struck at him with his whip before Santos' mount drew away. Vaz and Divine Light finished fifth but were disqualified to ninth by the stewards. Mi Helena and Santos finished ninth.

The jockeys will go before the Philadelphia Park stewards at 10 a.m. Jan. 21.

(Originally published at

About the Author

Claire Novak

Winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award for Feature/Commentary and the 2008 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Sports Writing, Claire Novak has melded her love for human-interest journalism and the equine breed into a successful Turf writing career. Since her first freelance article on racing was published at in 2005, her byline has appeared in the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, and on, among others. She lives near Lexington and, when not writing about racing, can often be found jumping her Thoroughbred, Bob.

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