The New Jersey Racing Commission Board of Stewards has suspended jockey Tomas Mejia for 10 years.
The board found that he possessed a prohibited electrical device when he entered the winners circle and before dismounting from Stongerthanuknow after a Sept. 3 race at Monmouth Park.
Mejia also was fined $5,000, and the stewards referred the matter to the New Jersey Racing Commission with a recommendation for the permanent revocation of Mejia's state racing license.
The board said in its ruling that the stewards "considered the photographic evidence" presented to them on Sept. 9. He was removed from his mounts on Sept. 10 and 11, and a hearing was held on Wednesday.
The photographic evidence likely refers to a photo that initially was published by the track on Facebook after Mejia's comeback win. The photo shows what might be an object in Mejia's left hand. The photo was taken down, but it already had begun circulating on social media.
Mejia's agent, Robert Tuccille, told Horse Racing Nation Thursday that the ruling shows "the horse racing industry is very serious about these kinds of allegations.
"I don't know the particular details of the case. But I have seen the photo that's on the internet. And it is a very damning case. It's just a tough decision all around for everybody – for the industry, for the jockey, for everybody."
Asked whether a 10-year suspension is an appropriate penalty, Tuccille said, "if they had the evidence, yes. … When you're going to take somebody's livelihood away, I just hope that there's enough evidence to support that. If there is, I fully agree with it. I just don't know the details."
Tuccille also said he "never knew he was doing anything like this. So this all caught me off guard. … If they have the proof, I agree with whatever decision the tracks and states make."
Mejia began his career at Belterra in 2018. He has a record of 149: 19-17-19 for the current meet at Monmouth. His overall record this year is 350: 42-33-45, with winnings of $1.1 million.