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Thursday, February 2, 2012

NSW Justice, Could Racism be a Factor in the Pena Case?

In New South Wales, Australia, the special hearings into the scandal where drivers knew when their horses would or would not be swabbed are continuing. However, the first rulings by the special panel in NSW have been issued, giving trainer Dean Atkinson a 10 year suspension for three counts of corruption.

One reader asked is a ten year suspension really enough? Well, actually I would prefer an expulsion or a criminal prosecution, but realistically, ten years out of the business often turns into a 'death sentence' for their career. But even if he comes back in ten years, there is no guarantee that he will be licensed once again.

The same reader told me he is beginning to wonder if Lou Pena is a victim of racism. I would hope not, but one must wonder why there has been such outrage about Lou Pena through out the industry and fan base while the industry has been relatively quiet when someone already has a 15 race lead in the training standings at a track after nine days of racing. and little is said about that (personally I think 9 days is to soon to start accusing anyone of wrong doing).

Now I am not suggesting Pena's exclusion at the Meadowlands is related to racism, as there are some legitimate questions about his record and training methods; especially when his success seems to have come overnight and horses have been approving dramatically.. At first, I said I don't think there is an issue of racism regarding Pena, but when most trainers have an American, Canadian, or European background can Pena's Mexican background subconsciously get into the thinking of his accusers? I checked with a friend out on the West Coast familiar with harness racing who has been following what is going on with Pena and he himself is wondering if racism is involved. 

Now two or three people wondering if racism is a factor with Pena, does not make it so but there is no way to prove racism is or isn't involved in the horsemen's and fans' criticism. However, it may be time for some self reflection from Pena's critics.




Pacingguy said...


Thanks for your comment. Number 1, I didn't say it was racism, but I have a couple of friends in the indusrty that suggested there could be an element of it. One in particular wonders why no one is complaining about The Burke Stable opening up such a lead at the Meadowlands, yet if it was Pena, they would have. If you read what I mentioned, I would make an assumption off of one month's standings.

Secondly, I am not even suggesting the tracks are being racist and concur Mr. Pena has a lot of questions to his background. I personally think the right thing was done at the Meadowlands.

However, a lot of people in the racing industry raised their voices that something must be wrong, even people not racing against him. He became a poster child for everthing wrong while questions could have been asked about other trainers.

So the question is why Pena? I am not suggesting deliberate racism, but institutional racism; the type people are not conscious off.

And lastly,I am a believer in the right of exclusion. Personally, I think the person should have the right to explain their side of the story before they are excluded, but I realize that causes potential legal liability vs just being told you are not welcome.

Reader said...

Well said Pacingguy!


It seems that too many individuals are thin skined and when desperate they will play the race card,with all thesecivil rights organization, ACLU, and last but definately not at the rear is the federal civil rights statuescab be applied, i wonder why this issue never reared it's head as racial when horsemen of other ethic groups and religious donominations was denied stalls which im sure was a bigger issue and denied many an owner, trainer the right to raceand compete in the days when one had to be on the track grounds for their entries to be excepted, i myself was told by an owner when he asked the race secretary at a local N.Y track why he was denied stalls, the reply he received was do you jews and italians think you are taking over this business

Pacingguy said...

Allen, sadly back then institutional racism was accepted. When my parents bought a house, the deed said the Catholic Church in town had the first right of refusal to buy the house. Why? To keep the 'wrong' people out of town.

Those days it was wrong, these days it is equally wrong. You are right, some people play the race card to quickly. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong.

I certainly don't think Gural was wrong to exclude him. On the other hand, I think what YR did was toss him so other people could win races and they may have let him back in when the NY 16 got suspended.

LI Guy said...

I think Pena initially peaked everyone's interest was the fact he's from the west coast and a b-track where he was mediocre at best. He came on like gangbusters. I think if he was from Canada (WEG circuit) or midwest he would have been tolerated like the Burkes , Coleman ,etc.

William Child said...

You may be interested to know that Dean Atkinson is facing a criminal prosecution over these matters.

mcasa78 said...

This is very interesting givin that I know people that were good friends with Lou Pena when he trained and drove at Cal-Expo. At last check I believe that Mr.Pena has not had any PROOF of wrong doings at these other tracks, the point is that coming from little track Cal-Expo somehow makes him look like a crook, he races at some of the best harness tracks anywhere and they STILL cannot find any TRACE of violations, the problem is maybe just maybe Lou Pena is a real horseman that because he came from Sacramento that somehow what he has done cannot be explained. Well until these tracks can REALLY PROVE IT..He should be allowed to race at any of those tracks back east and it is a shame that THEY are putting this clamp on him because he WINS too much as a trainer??? Why is it that whenever track it may be Meadowlands,Yonkers,Chester,etc. that this person has done very well at all of them, so are we saying that these places are stupid in dealing with this or could be that there is something to be said for the little guy coming here from Cal-Expo no less and that it can't be done, Well Mr. Pena is indeed proof that It can be!!! We may not have the purses and the appeal but we have some great horsemen out here who also know a thing or to about winning. The only thing Pena is guilty of is trying to win races like the rest of us!!

Pacingguy said...


First, let me say I believe I have been fair with regards to Lou Pena in this blog (If you have not read all my entries, you can search for 'Pena' in the top left of the blog home page and it will pull up my articles concerning him.

I have never convicted him of wrong doing, nor have I said he innnocent; I have tried to keep my thouhts on Mr. Pena out of my columns and be as fair as possible. I will be the first one to point out that he has never been caught with a 'magic' bullet. I even mentioned what you are suggesting; someone suggested Pena can be this good legitimately.

That being said, anyone who can improve a horse that well; have a 100 win lead in the training standing at Yonkers before his exclusion can make one wonder if something is not right. They are legitimate questions.

One person I know suggested the trainers that have come to the tri-state area are not that good; just people taking their chance on winning some of that slot revenue.

May I point out that Ed Hensley, and the Planos have been doing quite nicely outside of California, though certainly not at the level of Pena, so you can be a good trainer out of California.

However, a private entity has the right to exclude the same way you have the right to not allow a professional with a license to do business in your state on your property. I would hope it be used rarely and the person be given an opportunity to make their own case.

For all those tracks you mention, the Meadowlands is not a surprise since ownership is the same as Tioga and Vernon Downs who exclude him. Yonkers lets him race after what I have to wonder a questionable three month exclusion. Chester Downs and Pocono Downs except entries from him as well. The only other track I am aware which excludes him is the Meadows.