Jockey Denny Velazquez has been suspended by the Minnesota Racing Commission after a vehicle search allegedly turned up a “buzzer” (aka a “machine,” aka a “battery”) – a device used to shock racehorses into running faster. A tentative hearing is slated for next Thursday at Canterbury Park. The 26-year-old Velazquez is a hugely successful jockey – third in the current “standings” at Canterbury, with over 500 first-place finishes in his still-young career (and party to over $9 million in earnings).
For those who may think these (obviously abusive) buzzers are rare, I refer you to statements made during a 2013 PETA investigation of trainer Steve Asmussen:
Scott Blasi, an Asmussen assistant: “I’d tell [jockey Ricardo Santana Jr], ‘You got the maquina [shocker]?’ ‘Boss, I got the maquina.'”
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens: “So, long story short, I win the race…and I reach over to pull this off, and I, I shock the shit out of myself [audible laughing around the table].”
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “Well, we used to go behind the gate at Ruidoso. And it was just like it was a full-blown orchestra. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Everybody had one. Everybody had one.”
Cruelty, thy name is horseracing.