Louie Balboa is one of racing’s top jockeys. According to the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) website (philracom.gov.ph), as of May 31 he is ranked 17th. Out of 118 rides so far this year, he has posted 23 wins, 19 2nd-place finishes, 26 3rd places, and 12 4th places.
His prize money earnings are in excess of P6.1 million. With the jockey’s share being 12%, he has taken home P732,000 already just for the first five months of 2007, which is more than what some corporate vice-presidents make in an entire year.
All that money must be burning a hole in his pocket, because lately he has taken to frequenting the Casino-Filipino San Lazaro at the San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP) Turf Club, playing the slots, having dinner, hanging out in the casino’s luxurious surroundings with friends. No harm in that; it’s a common pastime for those who can afford to indulge.
But when he has one drink too many, gets rowdy and abusive, and grabs and wolfs down the sandwich of the casino player seated next to him, then that’s a different matter altogether. The female player, who felt deeply insulted, tearfully reported the May 24 incident to PAGCOR and MJC (Manila Jockey Club) officials and filed a formal complaint.
MJC Racing Manager Ding Magboo, incensed at Balboa’s display of rude and abusive behavior, banned him from the casino premises indefinitely for his “inappropriate actions and behavior”. Magboo also sent a strongly-worded letter to the New Philippine Jockeys’ Association decrying the occurrence.
MJC Chairman and CEO Atty. Alfonso R. Reyno Jr., who returned the just the other day from a lengthy trip to Europe, was appalled at learning of the assault on a casino player and is studying stiffer sanctions for the rowdy jockey – perhaps a ban on his entering the SLLP premises altogether, which means he would not be able to exercise horses or ride races at SLLP.
Certainly Louie has shown himself no gentleman on this occasion – and others as well, if you believe the scuttlebutt going around about his other antics. But is it too much to expect common decency and consideration for others? His drunken and boorish behavior reflects no credit on his profession, his peers, the industry he belongs to – and himself.
Photo: Louie Balboa: though a talented rider, his social skills need work. (Photo by Roel Taripe)