BOSTON (CBS) – Jockey Frank Amonte says Suffolk Downs will not let him ride because they think he is “too frail.”
Amonte’s doctors claim otherwise, and as horses ran at Suffolk Downs on Tuesday, the 76-year-old Amonte was there flexing some muscle for WBZ-TV.
“I want to ride races,” he says. “That’s my thing.”
Amonte has been in the saddle for six decades and raced at tracks all over the country.
Amonte and his lawyer call this a clear case of age discrimination, and have filed a complaint with the state.
Chip Tuttle, Chief Operating Officer of Suffolk Downs released the following statement to WBZ-TV:
“Mr. Amonte continues to be welcome as an owner and as a trainer at Suffolk Downs. There are inherent dangers in any racing environment and one of our major responsibilities is to minimize those for all race participants. After careful consideration and a thorough review of his recent riding record, we determined that in the interest of safety for both the horses and jockeys, including Mr. Amonte, we would not permit him to ride here.”
Suffolk’s boss argues the decision is about track safety, saying Amonte is an insurance risk, especially after a dangerous incident last year where Amonte tumbled off a horse just beyond the finish line.
“I fell off once in 62 years and now it’s a big issue,” he says. “They’re just trying to get rid of me.”
The 5-foot-2-inch and 117-pound Amonte has now locked horns with the boss, because Amonte wants to become the oldest jockey ever to ride a winner.
Amonte says doctors have cleared him, other jockeys support him, and he’s not afraid of what might happen.
“You have to love it or be crazy,” says Amonte. “I’m a little of both.”