Monday, January 17, 2011

Time to Let Walter Case Jr Return

This is probably the hardest blog entry I have written.  It is time that Walter Case, Jr. is allowed to return to racing.  Why is this entry hard to write?  For a long time I was opposed to his returning; livid when he showed up at Plainridge Race Course in 2008.  How could someone with his record be allowed to return to racing?

Well, my opinion has changed so I need to explain why I feel he deserves to return.  Followers of harness racing for any length of time are aware of Walter's talents; virtually the leading driver at almost any track he raced on.  And on a half mile track, he was the second coming of Herve Filion; no one drove as hard as Walter Case did .  In fact, he drove a little too hard.  Case wracked up penalties for kicking horses as often as most people changed their underwear.  Tracks would welcome him as he was a celebrity, they almost always asked him to move on when he did not change his ways.  Many states gave Walter a probationary license as he could not keep his feet in the stirrups, but he did drive aggressively, winning at a more than impressive rate.

Then of course, there was a question of substance abuse.  Like many people in society, Walter has had problems with illegal drugs and he seemed unable to shake those demons.  Then came the criminal problems with his altercation with his last wife.  There is no defense for what he did but he served  his time and has been on parole. 

Reports have it that Walter is changed man.  Clean of substance abuse finally, married once again to a woman who supports what he does.  The criminal offense can not be excused but being he has served his time, so it is an issue for him to deal with his family and his children; at this time it is a private matter.

With the demons supposedly behind him, why not let him return?  I am not aware of any race fixing allegations.  I am not suggesting he be given a warm welcome back when he returns, but if he has truly become a changed man and his prior fines have been paid, it is time to give him one more chance and a license to drive again.  For sure, a probationary license and kept on a strict leash..  If in New York, let an agreement permit him to drive at tracks like Buffalo and Batavia with random drug testing for a year.  After that year, let him move up to Saratoga and Tioga.  If he truly has changed and kept his nose clean, then allow him the possibility to move on to the "A' tracks.  That assuming the tracks are willing to let him drive there.  Like the NCAA, ban him for a period of times from participating in driving championships.   

Let's make it clear, the industry owes Walter nothing.  That being said, if he truly has changed what are we saying as a society if we don't give a supposedly changed person that one last chance to redeem themselves.after six years away (if you ignore that brief time at Plainridge)? 

I am not saying we welcome him back, but the time has come to let Walter Case, Jr. return.

35 comments:

Harness fan said...

Pacingguy, I see you mentioned letting him start in the smaller tracks of our sport and with all kinds of conditions but is that fair? Taking money away from the people that really need it or have done everything right? Do you want to see more people go out of business that can't have Walter drive their horses on a regular basis? That would be my biggest issue more than his reputation. I am for second chances but at what expense? Walter has had his chances and if he's making a living and keeping his nose clean, literally, why stir the pot? As a sport, we don't need Walter back, at the risk of causing more problems not only for himself but other people is too great imo.

Anonymous said...

If our legal system allows the man to walk out of prison and have freedom again, then so be it. He will have the opportunity to apply for a license and not it is up to each state on what to do.

I agree that the guy should be given one last chance. He has had a lot of problems and if the legal system states that he has been rehabilitated, then why not give him a chance with a lot of conditions in place.

If he agrees to the conditions and has any set-back whatsoever, then that's that.

I state this whether it is Walter Case Jr. or any other driver that was in a similar situation.

Walter, I hope you are able to do again what you have done for many years. I also hope that you do it humbly and with pride. Promote goodness and bring some good PR to the sport of harness racing. I think they could use it right now.

Anonymous said...

If you people can't see that harness racing is dying and needs someone like Walter, well, go back into your stables and play with hay. This man is human. I guess all of you are so freakin perfect that you can pass judgement on someone. If he has reformed, let him earn a living. It's not his fault he is one of the greatest drivers. and, P.S. he never fixed any races ( psst..Herve...)

Anonymous said...

"In fact he drove a little too hard" If you wanted to win, you put Walter in the seat,if you wanted your horse to stay down in class, well you get the point>>

Anonymous said...

I'll keep this brief and to the point. If Eric Ledford who was accused and jailed for drugging horses that he was driving was allowed back, there is not one reason Walter should not be allowed back. I just hope it's soon as time is not on his side.
I've seen 'em all, Herve, J.C. and others and Walter was better than them all...

Anonymous said...

When Walter Case completes his probation time and has a perfect record during that time, give his another chance. Keep him on a very tight leach with zero tolerance for abuses and no second chance if he fails.

Anonymous said...

If his fans truly care about Walter they would leave him alone and stop lobbying for his return. Obviously it was the pressure of driving and competing that made him turn to substance abuse. Every time he came back to racing he fell harder...if he is grooming or training, sober and happily married - let him alone!!!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous May 20 10:35 am. I don't see this as "lobbying" seems to me its about "forgiveness" provided there is evidence you have turned your life around. Don't you deserve another chance to do what you love to do?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't disagree more. Folks, he is now a convicted felon. Do we allow people back into their professions in our daily lives that have such convictions, like policemen, firemen, and the like? NO. In addition, he has had ample second chances both for past substance abuse issues and in kicking horses and other rules violations. Simply put, theres no valid case for his return, as it would be to the detriment of the sport and all it should stand for.

Anonymous said...

does anyone even know if Walter wants to return? Maybe he is happy right where he is.

Luanne Kroninger Case said...

For anyone seriously interested...Walter most definately wants to drive again and WE hope that everyone that really wants him back will stand behind and beside him in his effort to do so! We have a small stable of race horses and he has dedicated alot of blood, sweat and tears to making a go of it until his parole is over. I'm asking you, as his wife and a long time trainer, to let him back to do what he loves!I will gladly back him and stand beside him as best I can!!

Pacingguy said...

Luanne, I agree, it is time to let Walter back. By all means, thisi s not to excuse what he has done, but how long are we going to keep punishing him? If he was caught race fixing fine; but I trust he is a different person these days as he had plenty of time to reflect on the errors of his past.

Chaz said...

Luanne, I'm from Upstate New York and followed Walter Case Jr. for most of his racing career. He set new standards for driving harness horses. Especially at race tracks like Northfield Park. I was following racing at that Racetrack and those guys were a bunch of country bumpkins until Walter showed up. Now look at that track all those drivers that were driving along side him improved their skills so much that now most of them drive all over the country and are successful drivers elsewhere, Just like "Mike" Jordan the basketball player Walter Case Jr. is on a different level than most drivers and no man can say they had a perfect life also. So, if Walter ever needs a manager to help him I'm available, I'd do it for free just to say I was in the company of one of the greatest Harness drivers that ever lived!!

Carolyn Wahl said...

Time Served-- Let him come back,Racing is not just a job,its a way of Life. he was raised in the business and needs to get back doing what God gave him the Talent to do.

Anonymous said...

Luanne,
When does walter finish probation? Most people want to see him back and we would love to know when that is possible. I hope he is doing well!
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Please!! The only people that do not want Walter Case Jr. back is the people and horses he will crush once he gets back in the bike. How many drivers do you know that can come in the money 13 out of 15 races on a card?

PORKY said...

Luanne: Most of Walter's fans agree. Let him come back. For the doubters, remember they only crucified Christ once. He has pain his debt and needs a chance to show all that he has changed.

PS Luv ya Walter and also you Luanne.
PORKY

liberalredneck said...

I worked at scarborough downs for years in maine and we loved to see walter race. he could take time off any horse he drove and people would come there just to watch him. The sport needs him - if he wants to race - let him race

kim said...

hey does this thing really work?

Pacingguy said...

Kim,

I'm not sure what you were referring to, but this entry gives people a chance to express their opinion.

Anonymous said...

As always, there are more than one way of looking at things. The State of New York sees it this way. Walter can not be licensed in NY. About 3 years ago, the NY ligislator passed a law, mandating all licensees at a track that also had VLTs , be licensened with the NY State lottery Commision , as well. In NY a person with a felony conviction can not be licensed to partcipate by the Lottery Commishion.
Sorry Walter. yet he knows that already. It will need to be anther state to license him.
As for the sport needing him; As I stated there is more than one way of looking at this. If a stste was to license Walter to compete in pari mutual wagering races, what message would it be sending to others?
How does this further harness racing?
I am sure we all agree, most people outside of harness racing feel the whole sport is corupt and races are often fixed. So, how would a rational thinking outsider view Walter's return? I am sure it would have just the opposit effect of what most have said here.
Move on people and move up or there will nothing to care about, soon.

Anonymous said...

He's the best I've ever seen he served his time let him back they let manzi,brennen,pierce, Parker back and many more

Pacingguy said...

Anon, I am all for Walter coming back, but I'm not aware of any reason why those drivers would have been in a situation where there should have been any consideration of them not being allowed to race.

Anonymous said...

When Walter Case Jr. raced at northfield park in Cleveland, Ohio, when I attended I knew he would WIN at least 2-3 races in a evening. Yes he was #1 of the greatest drivers I have ever seen.I wish he would be reinstated at Northfield because he would bring in some crowds.
Good luck Walter Case Jr. on your endevors!!!!!!!!!!!

affirmedny said...

This is one of the things Anon was referring to: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/12/sports/horse-racing-roundup-harness-racing-three-drivers-are-suspended.html

Pacingguy said...

Affirmedny,

Thanks for finding this article; it was so long ago, I forgot about it. It amazess me at times, how people can remember that far back, but then there are instances I remember too.

Gus said...

Walter made his mistakes and has paid a heavy, heavy price. I was with him thru a good bit if it. He will once again regain his sulky form and compete with the best of them. As long as the good trainers and owners give him a fair chance he will again be unbeatable - no doubt !!! You should see him late October or so at Plainridge. Good Luck Wally

Anonymous said...

Would you let him babysit your children? He is the Steve Howe of Harness Racing.

Pacingguy said...

Well, for one thing we are not talking about Walter babysitting anyone's kids, we are talking about him driving race horses. Everything I hear indicates he is a changed man.

For the record, no one I don't know personally would baby sit my kids so very few people would be allowed to, even if they were top notch individuals.

However, everything I hear about Walter is he is a changed person.

Marc Silverstein said...

so folks I have a questions...why is he still not racing at Plainridge? Has he been banned in Mass now?

Anonymous said...

I have been a harness racing fan for 50 years. Mr Case had a gift that the vast majority of harness drivers could only hope to have. I hope he has conqureded his demons and wish the all the best in the future.
I for one would love to see his return.

Anonymous said...

why let him race they wont let me and I got out of federal prison in 2010 thats the way the cookie crumbles in life and walt you were a prick at Pocono Downs and thought your @$#@$%^ didnt stink but you are like the rest of us now sow what you planted

bvmets said...

its so ridiculous to ban a driver like walter.hes probably best driver
ive ever seen .atleast on 1/2 mile track.john cambell on mile track.
anyway racing is crooked always has been always will be.now there standards.this just effort to blackball him.why?coz he made some mistakes.let him do what he does best.
drive harness horses.

bvmets

Anonymous said...

The only people that don't want walter case driving are the drivers and trainers who can't beat him. He was the best of the best when he drove. Never saw him dragging his feet comind down the lane at yonkers or holding the horse so tight the horse couldn't breathe. Yeah he committed a crime with substance abuse..but hey so did A-Rod and Clemens and they can still play. Yes, he stabbed his ex-wife and god knows why...but he did the time that fit the crime. Let the man drive!

Anonymous said...

like the passion in this discussion but for the record not only should case be banned for life a lot of others with convictions should be also (at least from pari mutual races for starters). i know of very respectable people in michigan (one a vp at gm) who could not be licensed when the casions opened. harness racing isn't the only game in town anymore, you abuse the rights, you should pay. it sends the correct message to others.