Friday, January 11, 2008

Ledford News & Prairie Meadows Note

The New York Daily News has a Ledford story up, with a few quotes and notes.

From attorney Howard Taylor:

"Criminally, Eric is clear," said Taylor. "He's licensed and I do not believe that there is any state that would refuse him a license.

"The problem is privately-owned racetracks, such as Freehold or Pocono Downs. They can say 'We don't want you racing here.' "

And as we knew from stories like this before:

Because it is owned by the state, the Meadowlands has no choice but to let Ledford participate.

So, that part is clear. Since we have no official word from the Meadowlands that they are trying something else, I guess we can assume he'll be down there on horses soon. As for private tracks? That is yet to be determined it seems.

As for Freehold, track general manager Don Codey said: "He hasn't appeared on an overnight or come forward as of yet. When that happens, we'll have to take a look at it and see if it is in the best interests of Freehold Raceway to permit him to race here."

According to Mr. Taylor, some people within the industry seem to be ready to welcome him back with open arms:

"I know of four major stables that he has talked to," said Taylor, "and will be using him."

Andrew Cohen in his wire to wire yesterday, pointed out that he disagrees with the way punishment in meted out in racing; and if we are upset that people like this are being reinstated after being criminally charged in racing, we should blame the powers who govern the sport.

be angry at the people in positions of power who allow these lackluster punishments to be meted out; who place them in the rulebooks to begin with, and who fail to provide enough funding to make the system work properly.

I do not know why simple rules are not established and followed-through on in racing. For example, I once worked at a big bank and I had to have a background check. If that background check revealed I had been criminally convicted of something in banking before, I would not be eligible to work in the banking industry. The same goes for the securities industry. Similarly, I think if I worked at a casino in Vegas and was criminally convicted of something there, the chances are between zero and zero I would be able to reapply at a casino to make my living. These industries seem to believe integrity of their businesses are of utmost importance.

Why do we not have the same rules in racing? I think it all goes back to two things: We were a monopoly so these things didn't have to be looked at; and we have no leadership.

I think someone out there should work on getting this changed. If you are convicted of a crime having something to do with the sport, e.g. horse abuse, illegal possession of equine drugs, fixing a race contest - anything along those lines, we should do what the stock market or casinos do: Boot you out forever.

Meanwhile, the debate rages on at Prairie Meadows. As opined below, the track and state government is looking at how slot money is doled out in Iowa. It is reported that this is ongoing. They are starting to look at the cost side of the business and seeing how they can hopefully become more cost conscious and perhaps self sustainable.

Prairie Meadows said it would examine the length of the racing season and look for ways to get bigger fields and increase pari-mutuel betting.

We will keep updating the Iowa situation, as it might have far-reaching effects on our sport.


Anonymous said...

Always like Cohen's take on things. Like this part:
"The challenge now is three-fold. For Rucker and Ledford, if they have it in them, they should bend over backward to assure everyone that they have learned from their past crimes. For the Meadowlands and the NJRC, if the officials there have it in them, they should bend over backward to demonstrate to the public that this pair is being carefully monitored. And for the rest of us? If we have it in us I believe we should bend over backward to wait and see what happens before rendering another judgment."

Unfortunately the NJRC is asking us to bend over forwards and I don't think we'll have to wait long to figure out what's gonna happen to us in that position.

Sadly, Taylor is quite right, many in the industry will welcome this creature back with open arms. In fact, I would suspect that there will be an outpouring of unabashed love and associated press releases to follow.

Good thing the sport is so low on the popularity level these days so at least we can take solace in the fact that these clowns won't be considered role models.

I wonder how many life long race fans exited the door on this one? I know there was a great big whoosh of air heard in my household that day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment V.

As with most things in racing I like to get things down to the lowest common denominator. "Is this good for harness racing?" If the answer is yes, do it, if it is no don't do it.

No one I have spoken to can seem to answer that question with a "yes" in the Rucker and Ledford situations.

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