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Jockey Robby Albarado enters not guilty plea to assault charge

Suspended jockey Robby Albarado worries his racing career could be at risk as he fights an assault charge that sidelined the veteran rider for the two biggest racing days at Churchill Downs, his attorney said Tuesday.

Attorney Scott Barton entered a not guilty plea for Albarado. The jockey did not attend.

Albarado was arrested Friday and charged with fourth-degree assault. He was accused of accosting a woman who said she was trying to break up with him. Last spring, the jockey faced a domestic dispute charge.

Albarado's arrest came hours before he was to ride in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks, a race for 3-year-old fillies the day before the Kentucky Derby. Churchill stewards have suspended him indefinitely from the famed Louisville track, where he is third on the all-time jockey wins list. His suspension would apply to any licensed racetrack in Kentucky, though Churchill currently is the only thoroughbred track in the state with live racing.

Judge Ann Bailey Smith set a trial date for July 18.

Albarado is accused of lunging at Carolina C. Martinez while she was on the phone and chasing her into a bathroom, according to an arrest warrant. Martinez shut the door but Albarado broke it open and cornered her in a walk-in closet, the document said. Albarado wrestled with her on the floor but she pushed him off and fled, the report said. The woman suffered a separated shoulder and bruises to her legs, an arm and shoulder.

In a domestic violence petition, Martinez said she had lived with Albarado for a year.

Barton said after the hearing that "everyone is jumping to conclusions" about the case.

"I think once the facts come out, everyone will see that he is absolutely not guilty," Barton told reporters.

"I think ultimately everything is going to be fine, but ... he's not racing right now. That's his livelihood. He's absolutely concerned about that," Barton said.

Last spring, Albarado was charged with wanton endangerment and domestic assault for allegedly assaulting his wife, Kimber Albarado. Those charges later were dismissed and he pleaded guilty to attempting to interfere with a witness. His wife has filed for divorce.

As part of a consent agreement with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in April 2011, one of the conditions set for Albarado to continue holding a license to race in Kentucky was that he avoid any additional criminal charges.

Following his latest charges, Albarado will have to go before the state Horse Racing Commission's license review committee before he can ride again. He has been told to appear before the committee on May 16.

"Most jurisdictions recognize suspensions from other jurisdictions, but, strictly, speaking, it's discretionary," said Dick Brown, a spokesman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. "Historically, Kentucky has always recognized suspensions from other jurisdictions."

Albarado was scratched from eight races at Churchill on Friday, and another eight races on the Kentucky Derby Saturday. Albarado did not have a ride in the Derby.

One of the horses he was supposed to ride, Silver Max, won the $238,200 American Turf race on Friday.

Albarado has won more than 4,300 races, including 935 races at Churchill entering the current spring meet. His only Triple Crown win was the 2007 Preakness with Curlin.

In the 2011 Kentucky Derby, Albarado was named to ride eventual winner Animal Kingdom, but he was injured three days before the race when a horse tossed him off and he was stepped on during the post parade. Albarado suffered a broken nose and facial cuts, and was replaced by fellow rider John Velazquez.