From Ed Golden of the Santa Anita Publicity Department:
It wasn’t the Thrilla in Manila, but it was the Row at Los Al.
Jockey Martin Pedroza and trainer Richard Baltas got into verbal and physical confrontations at Los Alamitos Race Course Sunday in incidents apparently spurred because Pedroza had been removed from a Baltas-trained horse at the owners’ request.
It started in the first race, in which the favorite, Armensky, trained by Baltas and ridden by the meet’s leading rider, Rafael Bejarano, broke from the No. 3 post position in the mile race for $20,000 maiden claimers, and Mojave Desert, ridden by Pedroza, broke from the No. two post position. Pedroza had ridden Armensky in his last start, finishing second by a half-length at 12-1 on Nov. 27 at Del Mar.
Armensky, the 2-5 favorite, finished fifth on Sunday, beaten 12 ½ lengths by Mojave Desert, who ran fourth.
“Martin told me and (Rafael) Bejarano he was going to take my horse out of the race,” Baltas said Monday morning. “The stewards were warned about it. After the fifth race, Pedroza told me that was going to ‘f— with me all year long’ and after the seventh, I was minding my own business, when he came up to me and started cussing me out, then he bumped me in the chest and I put him a headlock before Security came.
“But before they did, he hit me in the face with his helmet and cut my nose (Baltas was treated and had it covered with a bandage Monday). I’m not a confrontational guy but I am competitive and I was upset. I’m thinking of taking out a restraining order against him and my owners are filing a complaint.”
Pedroza said he came over to Baltas after the seventh when the trainer motioned to him as though he wanted to talk to him, and Baltas bumped his chest. From that point, the incident grew more violent.
Richie Silverstein, Pedroza’s long-time agent, had this version. “Baltas called Martin over after the seventh race as if to discuss business. The next thing you know, Baltas had Martin in a headlock and Security was called to break it up. Martin did hit him with his helmet, but it was in self defense.
“The police came and suggested Martin file a restraining order against Baltas. There’s no need to take sides here. Everyone there saw what happened.”