Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Scandal Breaking at Tampa Bay Downs?

Sometime before this afternoon's racing program, Tampa Bay Downs management took the remarkable action of banning seven prominent members of its jockey colony from the grounds.
Among the seven jocks barred from the property, three, T.D. "Terry" Houghton, Derek Bell, and Joe Judice were leading riders at previous TBD race meetings. The others excluded were Jorge Bracho, Luis Castillo, Jose H. Delgado, and Ricardo Valdes.

There must have been quite a scramble for replacement riders, as Houghton was slated to ride nine of the ten scheduled races and Judice four, while four members of the "gang of seven" were all scheduled to appear together in the fouth race.

Tampa Bay Downs management refused meaningful comment on the matter, saying only that their action was related to an ongoing investigation at the track by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB). Is this the beginning of a race-fixing scandal? No one can be certain yet, but this incident comes on the heels of two equally mysterious happenings:

At the beginning of the Tampa meet, Terry Houghton's longtime agent, Frank Garoufalis, known far and wide as "Frank the Greek", was excluded from participation, without explanation.

Last week Miami's Calder Race Course banned former leading rider Rene Douglas, also without explanation.

Rumors flew through the Tampa grandstand this afternoon, many surrounding possible FBI involvement in the investigation and reputed compliations of phone records of jockeys, bookies, and others, and connections to an earlier race-fixing case at Great Lakes Downs in Michigan. There was also plenty of talk of more exclusions still to come, both in Tampa and Miami.

We'll have to wait and see, but I hope that rumors will not be the only source of information we have. Too often the Thoroughbred industry's hard-hitting investigative reporters fail to penetrate past track management's press releases when it comes to controversial issues. Let this time be the exception.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

90% of all races are fixed wake up! the judges that let a guy at 3/5 go to the back of the pack and never make a move are the ones to blame

5:49 PM  

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