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Friday, April 12, 2013

Case Returning? A Door Closed on Pena?

Two interesting stories from Harness Racing Update.  The first involves the possibility of Walter Case Jr. being licensed in Pennsylvania to race.  According to the article, the PHRC will look favorably at licensing Case provided a racetrack agrees to let him drive there; the only issue being no one wants to be the first one to stick their head out.

I for one am in the corner of letting Case return provided it is with a probationary license as he deserves a chance to prove that he has finally gotten control of his demons.  That being said, I must disagree with his attorney's characterization of this being a 'second' chance.  If given a license, this would be more like a fifth or sixth chance.  Here's hoping Walter is able to secure a track willing to let him race and the PHRC granting him a probationary license with mandatory drug testing part of the conditions and a requirement he keeps his foot from 'twitching'.

The second story regards embattled trainer Lou Pena.  While the PHRC has given Pena a license Harrah's has refused an entry from him, claiming they need to conduct a full review of his situation.  To make his situation worse, the NJRC has refused to license him and as a result, any recognized training facility in New Jersey is unable to house his racing stock, meaning he has lost his home base of Gaitway farms.  Losing a central training base makes it harder for Pena to have horses racing both in Pennsylvania and New York. (Update: Pena is starting a horse at Pocono Downs this coming Wednesday.)

Interesting is the fact Pena has not attempted to start a horse at Yonkers Raceway yet.  It may just be the case he doesn't yet have a horse he feels can compete over the half mile oval or, in what is pure speculation, it could be the grapevine has told Pena not to bother entering there.  If this is the case, what I feared could be coming true; while being licensed to race Pena may have a problem finding a track in the lucrative Northeast racino market willing to let him in.  He may have no choice but to return to California to race.  


JLB said...

Please check Pocono entries on April 17, race 9, post 8.

Anonymous said...

In case you haven't been paying attention, while Lou hasn't been able to "officially" race horses in his name, there has been no shortage of "fake Pena" horses racing, often several in any given race. The "suspension" probably made Lou even stronger, as now his entourage can often pick up 3-4 checks a race, instead of just one.

Anonymous said...


There's no reason Lou Pena shouldn't be an active trainer. If New York hadn't messed up on its own rules in the case against him, maybe we'd know whether every state should give him the boot. Until then, he's a horseman with fewer violations than many trainers running who are entering horses daily.

As for Walter Case possibly returning as a driver, racing commissions and tracks everywhere should say, "Not now, not ever." If the only thing in his past was the criminal case, it would be different. Case routinely broke racing's rules and often didn't pay the fines associated with his actions. He also snubbed the bettors when he didn't show up for drives, or wasn't in any condition to drive and track judges sent him away.