Now that Nick Surick has been sentenced to 62 months in federal prison, something needs to be said out loud to the governing bodies and organizations that are supposed to govern and police harness racing: You did nothing! Do not take any credit for aiding or participating in the FBI’s prosecution of a few criminal horsemen.
As a matter of fact, while the FBI was doing your job last April, you were busy holding an annual conference telling the betting public that overall, horse racing was an honest sport. What was your reasoning? Because 99.57 per cent of the ARCI’s post-race testing was clear. Well, of course 99.57 per cent of your post-race testing was clear because your post-race testing is a joke! I am positive that 100 per cent of the criminal horsemen approve of this laissez faire approach to policing harness racing.
FBI testimony proves that not only are PEDs in widespread use in harness racing but it also proves that the dopers have no fear in getting caught. And why should they? Racing commissions have reduced the fines for most infractions and rarely issue suspensions for post-race positives. The only penalty of real consequence by today’s commissioners is the purse redistribution. What stands out to the betting public is the lack of effort by the state commissions to police harness racing and the lack of support for the federal government to get involved.
After 50 years of being a fan, nine of those years owning and breeding, I am ready to just give up. The FBI just proved what we already knew to be true we just didn’t have the physical evidence to confirm our suspicions. PEDs and drivers taking bribes to stiff their horses is still rampant in harness racing. Testing will never be adequate and racing commissions have no desire to clean up the sport. Not one convicted horseman was caught by pre or post-race testing. Not one! The cheaters know the PEDs they are using are still invisible to testing. When the FBI finishes their prosecutions of the indicted horsemen the policing of harness racing will go back to business as usual. So why should a young sports gambler trust his or her gambling dollar to an industry that refuses to police itself?
Steven D. Woodall / Wilmington, IL
Gural: More to do to create level playing field
While I was not surprised that Surick got a long sentence, I was somewhat surprised to learn that this was a result of the efforts by the USTA considering that the USTA had an opportunity to amend the existing HISA legislation to suit our needs which would have cost nothing and instead decided to budget an additional $500,000 to cover their legal fees in trying to have the law declared unconstitutional. I doubt anyone would really believe that these arrests were the result of actions taken by the USTA.
It has cost me personally well over $1 million to put these criminals behind bars. If we get the information that the FBI has relating to who else was involved it will be a blackeye for the sport and could put the subsidy in danger. In any case, we have made a lot of progress but there is still more to do to create a level playing field that some of us aspire to.
Jeff Gural / owner The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs
You can own Delvin Miller’s home
While in the market for a new home in rural Washington County, PA I was made aware that harness racing legend Delvin Miller’s home/estate is on the market. It is so tempting to throw caution to the wind and make an offer on it. If the walls in this home and barns could talk, what stories it would tell. I’m still trying to convince my wife to go for it, but in the meantime this is an exceptional opportunity to the right buyer to own a truly historic property.
Larry Zalewski / Pittsburgh PA