Trial begins for ejected Pennsylvania owner, trainer

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When the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission issued ejection notices to owner Michael Gill and his principal trainer, Anthony Adamo, on Feb. 2, 2010, to vacate Penn National racetrack, it did so with the rationale that the continued participation and presence of Gill and Adamo at the Grantville, Pa., track would “become inconsistent with the orderly conduct of the race meeting and is therefore inconsistent with the best interests of racing.”

The commission dispatched the ejection notices after 31 Penn National jockeys said they would not participate in races in which Gill-owned, Adamo-trained horses were entered to run Feb. 3. The executive director of the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association also sent a letter to the commission after compiling a list of trainers who said they would not run their horses in races in which Gill’s horses were entered on Feb. 3. Prior to those letters being received by the commission, Penn National Gaming Inc. sent a letter in late January asking for an investigation into a “previous refusal” by jockeys to ride in races in which Gill’s horses were participating and the “potential issues involving the integrity of the racing product.”

The threatened boycott by jockeys and trainers came after a number of horses owned by Gill suffered catastrophic injuries during Penn National races in late 2009 and early 2010.

But in a trial that begins today in United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Judge Sylvia H. Rambo will hear arguments from legal counsel for Gill and Adamo that the two men’s constitutional rights to procedural due process and equal protection under the law were violated by the racing commission.

Gill and Adamo filed suit in November 2010 and named as defendants in the civil rights complaint Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission chairman Corinne Sweeney; commissioners John Hannum and Raymond Hamm; former commission acting executive secretary Michael Dillon; the commission’s director of operations Joseph Mushalko; and its director of racing enforcement, Walter Remmert.

The two men are seeking judgment for alleged “deprivation of … federally guaranteed rights, for pain and suffering, for embarrassment and humiliation, for fees, attorney’s fees, punitive damages, and for an unspecified amount including interest in compensation for the damage done” to Adamo’s career as a trainer and “financial damage done” to Gill’s horse business.

Shortly after the eviction notices were served, Gill dispersed his approximately 190 horses, 49 of which were stabled at Penn National and the balance at his Chester County, Pa., training farm.

Gill was coming off a year in 2009 that saw him win 370 races and earn over $6.6 million, the complaint says, adding that over $3 mllion of that total was won at Penn National.

“The profits his horses made at Penn National subsidized the rest of Gill’s horse operation,” the complaint reads.

Adamo won 143 races from 898 starts for earnings of $2,951,584 in 2009, according to Equibase. By 2010, his numbers fell to 20 wins from 125 starts and $311,910, and by 2011 he won just two races from six stars, for $22,116. He’s had no runners in 2012.

The suit calls the threatened boycott by jockeys and trainers as “illegal” under 58 Pa Code Sec. 163.173 and 165.216. “Gill and Adamo were not violating any regulations by entering their horses for the races of Feb. 3, 2010,” the complaint says.

“To this day,” it alleges, neither Adamo nor Gill have “not been told what (they) did to warrant ejection.”

While the commission ejected Gill and Adamo from one Pennsylvania racetrack, Penn National, it permitted them to continue to race at another, Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park). The same jockeys who threatened to boycott Penn National races rode against the same Gill-Adamo horses at other tracks until Gill sold his bloodstock interests, according to the lawsuit.

Remmert and Mushalko were named in the complaint as a result of their role in suspending Adamo’s license indefinitely after he refused to travel from Fort Erie racetrack in Canada to Harrisburg, Pa., to be interviewed as part of an ongoing investigation in which he was told he was not a target. The complaint says statute requires the commission to pay travel expenses but refused to do so.

Attorney Alan Pincus is representing Gill and Adamo in the trial that is expected to last four days.

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  • stillriledup

     So, if the jocks refuse to ride and Penn Gaming says “we’re standing behind Gill/Adamo, you guys get out there and ride” and the jocks still refuse to ride, it seems to me that the entire meet/year gets cancelled which probably leads to Penn National having to go out of the live racing business. I think you sort of need jockeys to run live horse races.

    Im not sure what Penn National could have done other than what they did. Was there another way that they could keep taking Gill/Adamo entries and still be able to run a live race meet?

    As far as the jocks boycott ‘illegal’ i’m not sure how you can tell a jockey that he or she has to ride if they don’t feel like it. Seems like grasping at straws.

  • stillriledup

     So, if the jocks refuse to ride and Penn Gaming says “we’re standing behind Gill/Adamo, you guys get out there and ride” and the jocks still refuse to ride, it seems to me that the entire meet/year gets cancelled which probably leads to Penn National having to go out of the live racing business. I think you sort of need jockeys to run live horse races.

    Im not sure what Penn National could have done other than what they did. Was there another way that they could keep taking Gill/Adamo entries and still be able to run a live race meet?

    As far as the jocks boycott ‘illegal’ i’m not sure how you can tell a jockey that he or she has to ride if they don’t feel like it. Seems like grasping at straws.

  • Elktonstable

    This case boils down to whether or not Gill and Adamo’s fundamental constitutional rights were violated by Penn National and the PA Racing Commission when they ejected them and barred them from running their horses.  The action was taken to prevent disruption of the meet which would have occurred with a jockey boycott. On the surface one could say that the action taken was appropriate and their was no disruption. On the other hand, Gill et al contends that they violated no rules and were ejected without sufficient evidence of that fact and were therefore unable to defend themselves against the action and allegations made.  One possible defense for PA is a rule that loosely states that a trainer or owner may be ruled off if they conduct their business in a maner that is disruptive or detrimental to raicng.  No doubt there will be a firey debate over this issue.  The troubling part of this case is whether a racetrack should be permitted to eject you in a way that denies your right to plead your defense (the other side of the story).  If this basic right is not upheld, the avenue for abuse is wide open for racetracks to do as they see fit. Past experience tells us that racetracks and those that manage them are not always right and they are subject to corruption and predjudice like anybody else. Therefore the system of appeal to higher courts ensures the basic rights of Gill and Adamo. This is an extremely important case and has aspects that apply tyo all of us at one time or another. Personally, I think a hearing with the complaining jockeys and Gill and Adamo should have been scheduled before the ejection. The same can be said for Guererro if he did not receive a hearing (I don’t know if he did).  The choice between giving race authorities unrestricted control or keeping them in check to an extent that protects our basic rights is the battleground here. I vote for the constitution no matter how frustrating an enforcement issue might be.

    • roseann cherasaro

      I think you make a good point here.How do you deal with this..hearing from the jocks would have been the way to go.There has to be a better way to do this and make it stick when needed.

  • Elktonstable

    This case boils down to whether or not Gill and Adamo’s fundamental constitutional rights were violated by Penn National and the PA Racing Commission when they ejected them and barred them from running their horses.  The action was taken to prevent disruption of the meet which would have occurred with a jockey boycott. On the surface one could say that the action taken was appropriate and their was no disruption. On the other hand, Gill et al contends that they violated no rules and were ejected without sufficient evidence of that fact and were therefore unable to defend themselves against the action and allegations made.  One possible defense for PA is a rule that loosely states that a trainer or owner may be ruled off if they conduct their business in a maner that is disruptive or detrimental to raicng.  No doubt there will be a firey debate over this issue.  The troubling part of this case is whether a racetrack should be permitted to eject you in a way that denies your right to plead your defense (the other side of the story).  If this basic right is not upheld, the avenue for abuse is wide open for racetracks to do as they see fit. Past experience tells us that racetracks and those that manage them are not always right and they are subject to corruption and predjudice like anybody else. Therefore the system of appeal to higher courts ensures the basic rights of Gill and Adamo. This is an extremely important case and has aspects that apply tyo all of us at one time or another. Personally, I think a hearing with the complaining jockeys and Gill and Adamo should have been scheduled before the ejection. The same can be said for Guererro if he did not receive a hearing (I don’t know if he did).  The choice between giving race authorities unrestricted control or keeping them in check to an extent that protects our basic rights is the battleground here. I vote for the constitution no matter how frustrating an enforcement issue might be.

  • McGov

    Not a Gill fan…he doesn’t make the hero list…but I hope he wins.  Racetracks need to deal properly with their problems and stop passing the buck.  It’s far too easy to rule off an owner or trainer, only to see them set up shop in a neighbouring state.  This kind of approach stinks of corruption, even though in this case it is likely directed at a worthy target, resources must be spent proving this illegal conduct.  Once it is proven, then we can step out of the speculation room and into ahhhhhh haaaa room.

  • McGov

    Not a Gill fan…he doesn’t make the hero list…but I hope he wins.  Racetracks need to deal properly with their problems and stop passing the buck.  It’s far too easy to rule off an owner or trainer, only to see them set up shop in a neighbouring state.  This kind of approach stinks of corruption, even though in this case it is likely directed at a worthy target, resources must be spent proving this illegal conduct.  Once it is proven, then we can step out of the speculation room and into ahhhhhh haaaa room.

  • roseann cherasaro

    I think you make a good point here.How do you deal with this..hearing from the jocks would have been the way to go.There has to be a better way to do this and make it stick when needed.

  • Mike D

    Aren’t racetracks able to refuse entries from ANY trainer?  Meaning, they can expel ANY trainer/owner without cause?

  • Mike D

    Aren’t racetracks able to refuse entries from ANY trainer?  Meaning, they can expel ANY trainer/owner without cause?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

    If owners do not want to endanger their horses and their jockeys don’t want to ride against horses owned by someone who has a reputation for claiming and running horses that break down a lot, they have a right to refuse to run or to ride.

    Gill and Adamo can whine all they want, but it does not seem to an outsider that they have a leg to stand on, horsewise or legalwise. Pun intended.

    • FSTFRANK1992

      ARE YOU KIDDING EVRYBODY KNOWS WHAT GOES ON AT PEN THE CROKEDST TACK IN US THATS WHY I LOVE TO PLAY THERE FIGURE OUT THE FIX AND JOIN IN..2 YEARS AGO I HAD A HORSE RUN FIVE TIMES THERE AND RAN LAST OR NEXT TO LAST ,PUT HIM IN GOINGLONG AND TIPA AGENT TELLS ME BET YOUR HORSE TONIGHT HE WILL RUN 1RST OR 2ND, GOES OFF 45 TO 1 WINS FOR FUN FOLLOWING WEEK SAME AT 10 TO I  ITS THE PITTS UP THERE

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

    If owners do not want to endanger their horses and their jockeys don’t want to ride against horses owned by someone who has a reputation for claiming and running horses that break down a lot, they have a right to refuse to run or to ride.

    Gill and Adamo can whine all they want, but it does not seem to an outsider that they have a leg to stand on, horsewise or legalwise. Pun intended.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

     Someone had to do something. Whose responsibility is it to decide what is in the best interest of the entire race meet? It doesn’t make sense that the jockeys should have to threaten a boycott, or the owners, there should be clear cut areas of responsibility and when the decision is made to ask an owner and trainer to leave, that should be it.

    Now Gill and Adamo are asking the judicial system to decide something that should be under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.

    Next time perhaps owners and jockeys should file lawsuits and tie everything up in court including the races….that should satisfy Gill and Adamo shouldn’t it? Then everybody would lose.

    Does the above make sense?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

     Someone had to do something. Whose responsibility is it to decide what is in the best interest of the entire race meet? It doesn’t make sense that the jockeys should have to threaten a boycott, or the owners, there should be clear cut areas of responsibility and when the decision is made to ask an owner and trainer to leave, that should be it.

    Now Gill and Adamo are asking the judicial system to decide something that should be under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.

    Next time perhaps owners and jockeys should file lawsuits and tie everything up in court including the races….that should satisfy Gill and Adamo shouldn’t it? Then everybody would lose.

    Does the above make sense?

  • DavidB

    When someone from Penn National Gaming types the phrase “integrity of the racing product” does smoke come out of the keyboard? Just askin’.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

      yes, and their hair is set on fire as well.

      • Tannerracestable

        Like that Progressive insurance ad where the 2 guys are standing there in smouldering, singed pants and say, “no mas pantalones.”

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

          YEAH!

  • DavidB

    When someone from Penn National Gaming types the phrase “integrity of the racing product” does smoke come out of the keyboard? Just askin’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheldon.glass Sheldon Glass

    “While the commission ejected Gill and Adamo from one Pennsylvania racetrack, Penn National, it permitted them to continue to race at another, Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park). The same jockeys who threatened to boycott Penn National races rode against the same Gill-Adamo horses at other tracks until Gill sold his bloodstock interests, according to the lawsuit.”
    What Penn should have done is find replacement riders or scratch horses that could not find riders. How long do you think these pinheads would have boycotted the races when they see their mounts winning while they are spectators. When did the tail start wagging the dog? I am not o fan of Gill or Adamo, but this sounds like illegal criminal activity to me by the “jockeys”  

    • WILLIAM L. ANTON

      It is not illegal for the jocks to not wish to ride a Gill or Adamo mount.  They are not boycotting. As independant contractors they are allowed to pick and choose the assignments they wish.  The track cannot make them ride certain horses. NOW!! if they did and a jock gets hurt on one of those mounts which they (jocks) deemed dangerous (due to Gill/Adamos’ past performance) then you would see a rather large law suit.  Is this Catch 22, I guess.

    • Yovankajojo

      they did the same thing to a few people in west va,but unlike Mr.Gill these people didn’t have the money to fight 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheldon.glass Sheldon Glass

    “While the commission ejected Gill and Adamo from one Pennsylvania racetrack, Penn National, it permitted them to continue to race at another, Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park). The same jockeys who threatened to boycott Penn National races rode against the same Gill-Adamo horses at other tracks until Gill sold his bloodstock interests, according to the lawsuit.”
    What Penn should have done is find replacement riders or scratch horses that could not find riders. How long do you think these pinheads would have boycotted the races when they see their mounts winning while they are spectators. When did the tail start wagging the dog? I am not o fan of Gill or Adamo, but this sounds like illegal criminal activity to me by the “jockeys”  

  • Joe

    IF race horses had a voice and rights that protected them against cruelty and fraud,

    IF horse racing chose to become ethical and humane, was pretty much abuse-free and drug-free on race-day, race-week and race-month with justified, publicly disclosed, exceptions to medicate horses to offer comfort and cure minor ailments,

    IF all horses in training were adequately protected against abuse and fraud by being placed under constant surveillance and tracked, off-competition fitness and soundness monitoring with rest and retirement being mandated by regulatory veterinarians to protect horses, riders, ethical trainers and by extension buyers and horseplayers,

    IF abusing race horses, including with legal and illegal “treatments” like shock wave therapy, electric shocks and whips, with misused therapeutic drugs turned into destructive painkillers and dope, and with designer drugs, illegal drugs and contraband to intentionally deceiving horses, regulatory vets, jockeys, horse buyers, horseplayers and all by transforming unfit, spent, sick and injured horses into fitter, healthier, faster and stronger gambling tools,

    IF willingly endangering the lives of horses and riders, causing immense pain and suffering for profits and ego gratification became criminal acts, racing would no longer attract and spawn deviants and this lawsuit would not be.

  • Wingtips

    Don’t you have to go shock another horse with an electric cord?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

    yes, and their hair is set on fire as well.

  • WILLIAM L. ANTON

    It is not illegal for the jocks to not wish to ride a Gill or Adamo mount.  They are not boycotting. As independant contractors they are allowed to pick and choose the assignments they wish.  The track cannot make them ride certain horses. NOW!! if they did and a jock gets hurt on one of those mounts which they (jocks) deemed dangerous (due to Gill/Adamos’ past performance) then you would see a rather large law suit.  Is this Catch 22, I guess.

  • deadmoney

    The PHRC is filled with political hacks but racing, at PEN or anywhere else, does not need the likes of Gill, Adamo and Delahoussaye.

  • Tannerracestable

    Like that Progressive insurance ad where the 2 guys are standing there in smouldering, singed pants and say, “no mas pantalones.”

  • FSTFRANK1992

    ARE YOU KIDDING EVRYBODY KNOWS WHAT GOES ON AT PEN THE CROKEDST TACK IN US THATS WHY I LOVE TO PLAY THERE FIGURE OUT THE FIX AND JOIN IN..2 YEARS AGO I HAD A HORSE RUN FIVE TIMES THERE AND RAN LAST OR NEXT TO LAST ,PUT HIM IN GOINGLONG AND TIPA AGENT TELLS ME BET YOUR HORSE TONIGHT HE WILL RUN 1RST OR 2ND, GOES OFF 45 TO 1 WINS FOR FUN FOLLOWING WEEK SAME AT 10 TO I  ITS THE PITTS UP THERE

  • Harry Buchanan

    Your integrity is a “disgrace to horse racing”. How many states are you banned from training!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Training horses is one thing drugging horses is another and has no place in horse racing. Why did so many of Gills horses break down during the Penn National meet in question?????????????????? and had to be destroyed.

  • Harry Buchanan

    In reply to Delahoussaye

  • Yovankajojo

    they did the same thing to a few people in west va,but unlike Mr.Gill these people didn’t have the money to fight 

  • TonyWick

    In response to FSTFRANK1992, I’m curious to know who the agent was for Tipa at that time. I’ve been at Penn National for over 25 years and I knew the agent very well that worked for Tipa for several years. I have never known this agent to ever tout a horse. he never got involved in the business in that way. If this is a way of trying to implicate that a certain agent was fixing races, go bark up another tree pal. you’re way out of line with this accusation.

  • TonyWick

    In response to FSTFRANK1992, I’m curious to know who the agent was for Tipa at that time. I’ve been at Penn National for over 25 years and I knew the agent very well that worked for Tipa for several years. I have never known this agent to ever tout a horse. he never got involved in the business in that way. If this is a way of trying to implicate that a certain agent was fixing races, go bark up another tree pal. you’re way out of line with this accusation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Baker/100000670932928 Kathryn Baker

    YEAH!

  • Queen’s cellmate

    The Gill-Adamo situation was just another problem at Penn National that wasn’t handled properly because management has no guts and they laid it all in the lap of the racing commission. This track continues to cover up a multitude of problems instead of trying to find solutions. Without a doubt this bush track is the dregs of the racing world. they can be compared to a giant turd floating in a toilet. This foul smelling turd consists of incompetent management,race fixing, racing secretary and stewards giving favors to certain trainers, jock agents having access to computers in racing office to view entries, illegal drugs and shocking of horses, a self serving Executive director of the local HBPA who has not done his job for the horsemen, jockeys owning horses and numerous hidden ownerships. This is only a tip of the iceberg but I’m sure the New York Times will have quite a bit to say in the coming weeks. But the best part is that the FEDS someday are going to flush this giant turd right down the toilet. It can’t happen soon enough.

    • Rjr44

      Yes, Penn Nationial does have a right to deny stalls to any owner or trainer. And, yes, again, jockeys could refuse to ride a horse or the entire stable of horses of a particular outfit.

      But, in a legal sense, what exactly did Michael Gill do to warrant Penn Nat’s decision to bar him? Why was Gill and Adamo basically ruled off the grounds and out of the sport?

      Gill allegedly spent over $5 million in the business, buying and claiming horses at numerous tracks over a number of years  Since horse racing has been in a down cycle for far too many years, one would reasonably think that the industry should actually **embrace** a Mike Gill or any others who was willing to support and invest in this sport to the tune that Gill has.

      Penn Nat’s actions actually is the typical arse-backwards thinking too often demonstrated by racetracks in this sport of ours.

      • http://www.winnerscirclepartners.com/ Stewart Nickel

        Gill claimed countless horses and ruined them….how is this possibly good for any facet of the game?  He claimed (4) horses from me for too much money in each case so I wasn’t upset financially but they were all sound and ended up spiraling down the claiming ranks with no success.  When other trainers claimed the horses after they dropped significantly in price the horses performed better but were never the same again. 

        If you followed Gill’s horses you would know this was the typical pattern.  He may have gotten a few good races following a claim (maybe because he was getting credit for the previous trainer’s work) but in very few cases did his trainers actually improve a horse and they certainly didn’t have any durability. 

        He likes to tout how much money he pumped into the game and how many purses he won.  He won the purses based on shear number of horses and races run rather than improving horses and/or having a strong earnings per start statistic (the real barometer of success).  He pumped money into the game by claiming countless horses but in most cases the horses went downhill after they were claimed and this hurt the overall claiming market.  Whether it was poor horsemanship or whatever he may have been doing to them on his private property, the end result was the same.  And he can tout “people bought my horses that were supposedly sore” all he wants….this doesn’t change the fact that the great majority of horses he claimed went downhill and were never the same again.

        As an active claiming owner I had no problem with Gill claiming my horses for too much money.  But the damage he did to the overall horse population far outweighed any value individual owners would get from his illogical claims.

        Gill is bad for racing, period. 

  • Queen’s cellmate

    The Gill-Adamo situation was just another problem at Penn National that wasn’t handled properly because management has no guts and they laid it all in the lap of the racing commission. This track continues to cover up a multitude of problems instead of trying to find solutions. Without a doubt this bush track is the dregs of the racing world. they can be compared to a giant turd floating in a toilet. This foul smelling turd consists of incompetent management,race fixing, racing secretary and stewards giving favors to certain trainers, jock agents having access to computers in racing office to view entries, illegal drugs and shocking of horses, a self serving Executive director of the local HBPA who has not done his job for the horsemen, jockeys owning horses and numerous hidden ownerships. This is only a tip of the iceberg but I’m sure the New York Times will have quite a bit to say in the coming weeks. But the best part is that the FEDS someday are going to flush this giant turd right down the toilet. It can’t happen soon enough.

  • Rjr44

    Yes, Penn Nationial does have a right to deny stalls to any owner or trainer. And, yes, again, jockeys could refuse to ride a horse or the entire stable of horses of a particular outfit.

    But, in a legal sense, what exactly did Michael Gill do to warrant Penn Nat’s decision to bar him? Why was Gill and Adamo basically ruled off the grounds and out of the sport?

    Gill allegedly spent over $5 million in the business, buying and claiming horses at numerous tracks over a number of years  Since horse racing has been in a down cycle for far too many years, one would reasonably think that the industry should actually **embrace** a Mike Gill or any others who was willing to support and invest in this sport to the tune that Gill has.

    Penn Nat’s actions actually is the typical arse-backwards thinking too often demonstrated by racetracks in this sport of ours.

  • http://www.winnerscirclepartners.com/ Stewart Nickel

    Gill claimed countless horses and ruined them….how is this possibly good for any facet of the game?  He claimed (4) horses from me for too much money in each case so I wasn’t upset financially but they were all sound and ended up spiraling down the claiming ranks with no success.  When other trainers claimed the horses after they dropped significantly in price the horses performed better but were never the same again. 

    If you followed Gill’s horses you would know this was the typical pattern.  He may have gotten a few good races following a claim (maybe because he was getting credit for the previous trainer’s work) but in very few cases did his trainers actually improve a horse and they certainly didn’t have any durability. 

    He likes to tout how much money he pumped into the game and how many purses he won.  He won the purses based on shear number of horses and races run rather than improving horses and/or having a strong earnings per start statistic (the real barometer of success).  He pumped money into the game by claiming countless horses but in most cases the horses went downhill after they were claimed and this hurt the overall claiming market.  Whether it was poor horsemanship or whatever he may have been doing to them on his private property, the end result was the same.  And he can tout “people bought my horses that were supposedly sore” all he wants….this doesn’t change the fact that the great majority of horses he claimed went downhill and were never the same again.

    As an active claiming owner I had no problem with Gill claiming my horses for too much money.  But the damage he did to the overall horse population far outweighed any value individual owners would get from his illogical claims.

    Gill is bad for racing, period. 

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