I am taking the liberty of reprinting excerpts of this email I received; mainly due to space considerations and also to protect the identity of the person who wrote the email as defending Lou Pena is not popular and did not know I was going to reprint it. Where changes have been made to protect the person who wrote the letter, I will denote it in brackets.
Ive known Lou since he was a kid. [redacted to protect identity of letter writer]. His mom, dad, and Lou worked for Jerry Silverman and Gary Baker. Lou does have talent.
I'm going to ask you to look at Lou's Yonkers starts. Do you have the win percentage for post positions? And then the win percentage for Lou in those positions? I sincerely believe the talent level of the training in the East has been reduced. Lou has always taken care of his horses. When he was training [at Cal Expo], there was a training facility off track that he shipped in from with paddocks and a POOL, he raced out of there for years until it closed.
I agree and am the first to point out the uncanny win percentage. But until there is a positive test, I'm going to give him the huge benefit of being a better trainer. Shoeing changes, blood work, using the VERY BEST DRIVERS, equipment adjustments and changes, and getting the horse's mind sound are all very important and things that he excels in.
[not German to this conversation].... is he smarter than Yonkers management? is he smarter than the New Jersey/New York racing commission investigators who have set up camp at Lou's barn?
[redundant information]. Also, have you ever noticed any strange betting patterns or payoffs on races that Lou has won? I ask this seriously as I have never heard of an exacta that came back short etc....
I am not saying the letter writer is correct. But with slot money in the East coast could it be that the training colony has weakened so much and Pena is a superior trainer as this person who used to be on the West Coast claims? It may be a case there is no test which will currently reveal what Pena may using, but there may be a time when racing has to accept that Lou Pena is clearly a superior trainer over those that came East in search of slot-fueled purses?
Playing Devils Advocate, let's not kid ourselves, let's say for argument sake Pena is a legitimate trainer who is a vastly superior trainer over many of the ones racing he is racing against. If he wins too many races when compared to other trainers, even if he is a legitimate trainer, the difference looks bad. He also kills win prices, which chases away those gamblers who are looking for better payoffs. Is that a legitimate reason to exclude a trainer?
I know people complain how he steps up a horse that quickly and when someone else gets hold of the horse, it is a shell of what he was when Pena had him. Pena would not be the first trainer to gut a horse for purses, ruining them for a while or permanently, especially when we have a rent a horse mentality going on? Is it good for the horse? Not necessarily, but it is an ugly part of the game. I assure you there are other trainers who are known as ones you don't claim off of. Maybe Pena has the key with certain horses? Years ago there was a cheap claimer named Branch Dan Prince who raced on the Yonkers and Roosevelt circuit who won something like thirty-three races straight, yet no one claimed the horse off of the late Heni Filion because he had the worst knees around and people were afraid to claim off of him figuring the horse would fall apart. Filion got to race him in the cheapest claiming classes and kept picking up those checks.
Yes, Pena's record wasn't that great the last few years at Cal Expo but when you are working with a bunch of $2,500 claimers it is much harder to keep them sound. When you get better horses, you look better.
I am not saying Pena is honest or not. I just want to point out there is an alternate opinion amongst some of his racing peers and it is not unanimous that he is a crook. As for the case regarding exclusion, the fact is a private track has the right to toss a driver or trainer just because they want to.
Update: Racingbeard.com reports that attorney Jeffrey Pocaro filed for Lightning Lane Stables, a patron of Pena, in friend of the court brief on the 6th of January a motion asking that the Judge make a decision promptly as some late closing series required entries by January 10th and 11th and if a decision was not made in the favor of the plaintiffs, they would suffer immediate financial hardship. Being no decision has been rendered, it would appear that it did not influence the judge. One Pena charge, Big Bay Point has been transfered to trainer J. Robinson from the Pena barn to compete in the Presidential on Saturday as has Rockrockwhosthere who is competing in the Clyde Hirt series.
There is a lawsuit involving Lebanon Raceway over the tragic fire two years ago, where three owners are suing for $500,000 for the loss of their horses, equipment and future earnings. As much as I love horses, the fact is horses are considered property and if owners are concerned about the risk of loss, they should be taking out insurance on their horses. Virtually any application for racing at a track, indemnifies the racetrack from any responsibility as to what happens to the horse owner's property