George (The King) Anthony said his firing from Pocono Downs as the track handicapper and the host of the simulcast production was a matter of “wrongful termination” and came about only because he was trying to help horsemen secure rooms at the hotel that is part of the casino and racetrack complex.
Anthony said he was fired in the middle of the June 30 card after an angry exchange with Pocono Vice President of racing Operations Dale Rapson. Anthony said he had several run-ins with Rapson since he was hired by Pocono in the summer of 2011.
Anthony said his latest troubles began when he tried to help Brian Sears get a room at the hotel on the night of the elimination races for Pocono’s stakes-laden card on July 4. Anthony said he never told anyone at the hotel what to charge Sears, who paid a discounted rate. Anthony said the charge was $89. On Saturday nights in the summer, rooms at the hotel start at $249. He said the decision to charge Sears $89 was made by the hotel management.
“I have nothing to do with what they charge people,” Anthony said. “It’s none of my business. They could charge them $1, they could charge $1,000. I don’t care. I would just say ‘See what you can do for them, see if you can give them a rate. They are horsemen.’ Instead of them going across the street, they are in our building and they’ll be spending money. They might drink, they might have dinner they might gamble.”
Anthony alleges that when Rapson found out what Sears was charged he blamed him and went into a tirade.
“He comes barreling into my studio in front of my crew, comes in like a giant fullback, running and pointing his finger and says, ‘You know we don’t give rooms away here for $89,'” Anthony recalled. “He said, ‘I’m sick and tired of you. I’ve had enough, get the (expletive) out of here and don’t ever come back here again.’ So I got up and said, ‘with pleasure’ and out the door I went.”
Anthony said that earlier in the meet he had another fight with Rapson who demanded that he stop using nicknames as part of his presentation on his show.
“This man he doesn’t like nicknames; for some reason it bothers him,” Anthony said. “I tried to explain to him that nicknames have been in our business since the sixties. The “Red Man” for Carmine Abbatiello. “Storming Norman” Dauplaise. He hates that I call Matt Kakaley ‘Special K.’ He brought it to my attention and told me to stop but once in a blue moon I would stick a nickname in there. He gave me a couple of warnings and I said ‘take it easy, you’re getting upset over nothing.’
“On this one particular night I was giving out my best bet and said, ‘I think this horse will get ‘Simonized’ tonight,'” Anthony continued, referring to driver Simon Allard. “He comes barging into my studio in front of my people and says ‘If you (expletive) do it one more time I’‘m going to throw you the (expletive) out of here.'”
Anthony said Rapson also didn’t like it when he made suggestions such as asking the judges to post the track condition earlier, which, Anthony claims, they sometimes wouldn’t do until five or six minutes to post. He said Rapson also bristled when he said the simulcasting area was filthy.
“Here’s a guy who is totally absentee management,” Anthony said. “He is never there. He should’ve thought since I’m never there it’s nice to have a guy who is my eyes and ears.”
Anthony said he met with Pocono President and General Manager Michael Bean afterward to voice his complaints and argue for his job back but has yet to hear back from Bean.
“I told him that this guy snaps and he abuses his power,” Anthony said. “I told him this was a case of totally wrongful termination. Because of this incident he’s ruined my reputation. I’ve been dragged through the mud on the Internet. There are people out there who don’t the facts and don’t know what happened and they’re saying that I was fired for taking kickbacks for getting people cheap rooms. I don’t need a $25, $50 payoff to get some guy a room. I’m way, way above that. That’s absolute rubbish.”
Anthony also alleges that his predecessor, Randy Castellani, was fired by Rapson in 2011 after an angry showdown with Rapson.
Rapson confirmed that Anthony had been fired.
“There’s not much that I can say because we consider this an internal matter,” Rapson said. “I can tell you that this was not the result of any one thing or just one incident.”