Jun 29, 2011

NY racing's greatest scam

Dr Mark Gerard died yesterday. That name won't mean a thing to most readers. But to anyone with an interest in either the sport of horse racing or the sport of scam-making, this guy was a true gem.

Mr Gerard was a race track vet in the 60's and 70's, rising to the apex of his profession. Now, how did he gain that lofty standing? Try these legendary names of the turf: Secretariat, Kelso, Riva Ridge, Canonero II and Carry Back. Yep; he was the primary vet for each of them during their New York careers.

But, that achievement didn't seem to be quite enough for Mr Gerard, He needed more, more, more! So he came up with a grand scam: switch the identities of two race horses (one a plug, one a champion), enter the champ into a cheap race under the plug's name, and push the money across the betting windows for a Big Score. It worked -- to perfection. Well, at least until a phone call was made to racing officials a month later.

So tees up the Cinzano affair.

The great Sports Illustrated writer Bill Leggett wrote a typically fine piece in 1977 on this matter, just when the details were starting to percolate and before it went to trial. Here it is:


Now listen very carefully. This is the story of two racehorses from Uruguay, one the best in that nation's history, the other a $600 castoff. It is the tale of a veterinarian who tends thoroughbreds as illustrious as Secretariat, of an elegant blonde shopping for a saddle horse in Montevideo, of a jockey not famed for his virtue bringing home a 57-to-1 shot at Belmont Park, of workouts in the dark of night, of a dead horse in a town dump, of a $10,000 bet that went wrong and a $1,300 bet that went right. It is the case of a ringer at America's most famous racecourse and a $150,000 insurance fraud. READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE

1 comment:

Wendy K said...

I think it is very cool that you are again writing more about Saratoga as of late. I know you don't live here full time anymore, but I for one appreciate the ongoing concern you have for the city.

Yes the Saratogian is a waste of newsprint. Very amateurish. My subscription which for my family goes back to the 60's is something I found no worth to it and ended it this year. The other papers in the area don't really pick it up either and there aren't any good bloggers concentrating on Saratoga that are worth reading. So we'll take what we can get out of you!