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.