Sydney racing media identity Brent Zerafa has been found guilty by Racing NSW Stewards of conduct prejudicial to the image of racing.
Zerafa was charged after investigations into the Sam Kavanagh stable over cobalt and caffeine breaches revealed a series of text messages between Zerafa and John Camilleri, who was also charged and subsequently found guilty of his involvement in the long running case.
Others to have been found guilty through the investigations include Kavanagh, vet Tom Brennan, Mitchell Butterfield and Michael O’Loughlin.
On January 17, Zerafa was working for the now defunct racing broadcaster TVN providing mounting yard coverage when he received a text message from Camilleri relating to the Kavanagh trained Palazzo Pubblico.
At approximately 1.10pm, Camilleri text Zerafa with:
JC: Wonder who’s been help Kav (Mr Sam Kavanagh) for the past 5 weeks
JC: I’ve been helping him …
JC: Watch Palazzo in Race 3
Zerafa, when providing assessment of the horses in the mounting yard for Race 3 on TVN at approximately 2.10pm, promoted I Am Zelady, the stable mate of Palazzo Pubblico, as his best of the yard ahead of Rule The River, making no mention of Palazzo Pubblico.
He then placed a wager of $200 with Betstar on Palazzo Pubblico at odds of $6 at approximately 2.20pm, with the odds of the horse having shortened considerably since he received the text message from Camilleri.
Palazzo Pubblico won the race.
A series of text messages then took place between Zerafa and Camilleri from 2.26pm, including:
JC: Shhhheeee tell them to back wen there short
BZ: Like how I threw off in the yard??
BZ: Couldn’t stop the train
JC: I knew
JC: Don’t say a word the best is yet to come…
JC: Don’t say nothing to no1 please
BZ: Won’t. All sweet
JC: These galloping c*@s have to wake up a week b4 to outsmart us trotting grubs
Zerafa’s legal counsel Damien Sheales has argued that Stewards had no jurisdiction to issue charges in this matter which was rejected.
In determining the decision, Racing NSW Stewards found that Zerafa could be charged under AR175A in light of the following because he is a part-owner of racehorse Elle Snitz and a condition of ownership expressly agreed to be bound by the rules of racing.
Stewards also referenced that by being in the mounting yard at Randwick during a race meeting, combined with his role of assessing horses, gave them jurisdiction to charge Zerafa. Zerafa has since been stood down by new employer Sky Racing as the case was heard. There is no word as to whether he will be terminated from that role now that a guilty verdict has been found.
A date is yet to be set by Racing NSW Stewards to consider penalty.