ESPN Horse Racing

Elliott cleared to ride in Preakness
by Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- Kentucky Derby winning jockey Stewart Elliott was cleared by Maryland racing officials Saturday to ride in the Preakness.

Elliott pleaded guilty to assault three years ago, but didn't disclose the information when applying for a license to ride at Churchill Downs, where last Saturday he guided Smarty Jones to victory.

Though he could still face disciplinary action in Kentucky, according to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, "He has no problems here," said Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission.

The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be run next Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

Hopkins said stewards at Pimlico contacted Elliott and asked him to submit an amended application to ride in Maryland.

Elliott complied with the request.

Earlier at Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, Pa., Elliott said: "I'm not looking at my past I'm looking at my future."

"Everybody looks for something bad to say," he said after Smarty Jones' first public gallop since the Derby.

Elliott's agent, Ray Lopez, wasn't surprised the jockey was cleared.

"We never really had a problem. There was never a doubt in my mind. It was never really an issue," Lopez said. "The worst that can happen is a fine. It was never a question of being allowed to race."

Lopez said Elliott made a mistake when filling out the form to ride in Kentucky.

The form includes a question which asks if the applicant has been arrested, indicted or convicted or has pleaded guilty to any criminal offense within the last 10 years.

Elliott checked "No" because, according to Lopez, the jockey did not realize the time frame was 10 years.

Kentucky racing officials planned to investigate, but it could be two weeks before a decision is issued, racing authority spokesman Billy Reed said.

"We're confident this will have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby," he said Friday.

Elliott pleaded guilty in June 2001 to aggravated assault stemming from a fight with a friend inside the man's Burlington County, N.J., home in 2000. Elliott was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay $13,900 to cover the victim's medical bills, according to court records.

Elliott beat Alexander Kovakik with a beer bottle, pool cue and wooden stool, according to the grand jury indictment charging the jockey with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and unlawful possession.

The latter two charges were dropped after Elliott agreed to plead guilty.

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Audio and Video
 Aboard Smarty Jones
Mike and Mike: After talking about the Preakness win, jockey Stewart Elliott explains why he did not include an assault conviction in a racing application.