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Wednesday, January 26, 2005


- I ran across these quotes, like probably almost everything else you’ll see here, on the unbelievable Racing and Gaming Today page at the Albany Law School site. If someone is just thinking of writing an article that has anything at all to do with racing or gambling, this guy will have a link to it. Anyway, I hadn’t seen this before, this regarding Ken Ramsey being fined for trying to bribe a trainer to scratch her horse so that his could get in:

Forgiveness wasn't long in coming from the industry – if you consider Frank Stronach, whose Magna Entertainment Corp. owns Santa Anita and 14 other tracks, an industry spokesman.

Receiving the Eclipse as top breeder for his Adena Springs Farm, Stronach weighed in for Ramsey. "The public was not damaged (by Ramsey's action)," Stronach said. "An injustice was done, and I feel very sorry for you, Ken."

In a news conference after the program, Stronach reiterated the thought that "there was nothing wrong" with Ramsey making the offer "when the program wasn't even printed," and "the public was not disadvantaged."

Bobby Frankel, who trained Horse of the Year Ghostzapper for Stronach, seconded the no-harm, no-foul theory.

link from

Well, yeah, I think you could consider Stronach an industry spokesman; besides the 15 tracks he owns, he breeds and races a thousand horses, won the Eclipse as top breeder, is a good Friend of New York, and bred and owns the reigning Horse of the Year. And no, the public was probably not disadvantaged in this particular case, a cheap maiden claimer, but does that mean that since the program for next year’s Breeders Cup Classic is not yet printed, that he could try to persuade owners of potential competitors not to run, perhaps by offering them some prime Gulfstream tent space? And since the program for the NY racing sweepstakes is not yet printed, can he entice his other Friends to get outta town? Even if you accept his reasoning, shouldn’t such a prominent industry figure be congratulating the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for taking swift action in the face of any unsavory sounding activity in this sensitive time for the sport?

And as far as Frankel goes, it’s certainly no surprise to hear him support Ramsey considering the conversation between them prior to the Classic which was reported by the Bloodhorse’s Steve Haskin, in which Frankel supposedly told Ramsey: "If we lay first and second and the jockeys keep them slow and don't kill each other trying for the lead, they'll finish one-two. You know what I'm saying? If they're not stupid and they stay cool, we'll (Ghostzapper and Roses In May) be one-two." This article by Nick Kling has some interesting opinions about that exchange, just scroll down a bit.

- If you logged on to the Meadowlands home page on Wednesday, you would have read this summary of the previous night’s feature trotting race:
The four-legged Rumsfeld had the strategy and the firepower to win the $71,035 Super Bowl Final on Tuesday night at the Meadowlands.
I wonder if the writer intended the bitter irony that this conveys to me, especially considering that when the race was run, it was already Wednesday in Iraq, and would turn out to be the deadliest day yet in terms of American casualties. The toll is now over 1400, certainly due at least in part because they were not provided the necessary strategy nor firepower by the non-equine Rumsfeld.

- And finally, sticking with harness racing, if you followed the sport way back when, you may be surprised to hear that it was 25 years ago yesterday that the young emerging star driver Peter Haughton was killed in a car accident near the Meadowlands. The son of Hall of Fame driver Billy Haughton broke on the scene as a teenager and to this day, according to this piece at the U.S. Trotting Association, the only one to win a $100,000 race as a driver. He had won the Roosevelt International (oh man, those were the days..) the prior two years before he was killed at the age of 25. In one of those things that could surely only happen in horse racing or in movies about horse racing, the elder Haughton guided Burgomeister, whom Peter would have driven, to victory in the 1980 Hambletonian, the last one at Du Quoin before its ill-fated move the New Jersey, where it has devolved from a multi-heat epic to just another big race on a 16-race card at the steamy Meadowlands in August.
One final note of irony concerning this young man, taken far too early: The accident was in 1980, and in 1981 the top 2-year-old trot at the Meadowlands was born -- and named for Peter Haughton, and in the ensuing 23 years the winner of the Peter Haughton memorial has never come back at age three and won the Hambletonian.
[again, from the U.S. Trotting Association]


Anonymous said...

Quietly and privately, I think it's ok to say, "Well, Ramsey just did what owners and trainers across the nation do every day, it's not a *huge* deal." Of course, that not making it ethical by any stretch, but perhaps more forgiveable.

However, there was no "injustice" perpetrated, quite the opposite. Furthermore, Stronach pardoning anybody's behaviour is like being granted absolution by a priest who frequents the red light district. He runs a company that has made deceiving horsemen and derugulating gambling their mission. I imagine his defense of Ramsey has more to do with his own misdeeds, and hoping one day someone might similarly come to his defense.

Thankfully, that's not likely to happen.


Alan Mann said...

Excellent point (and great analogy :-) about Stronach; thanks so much for reading and commenting, Jolene.