It wasn't exactly Katie Couric interrogating Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign when Southern California horseman and radio host Roger Stein invited embattled owner Michael Gill on his show Sunday morning. “Michael Gill has a heart,” Stein said during his introductory remarks, adding that it “bothered me to no end when it looked like they are trying to get rid of him.”
Gill, the center of controversy because of a high number of breakdowns at Penn National and a boycott by jockeys there, defended his stable's safety record, criticized Penn National jockeys and their agents along with the track's management and racing surface. He said he will file lawsuits against “jockeys and trainers and racetracks.” He also said there is widespread jealousy over his success which he said is attributable to the fact his horses are given throat surgeries and treated with EPM medication. “It's like Kentucky Fried Chicken giving out their recipe to the competition,” he told Stein.
Despite that success, Gill said he is getting out of racing again—but this time for good. “Right now,” he said in response to a question from Stein about whether there comes a time when enough is enough. “You're going to walk away?” Stein said. “Yeah,” said Gill, saying that his family has “slept in a hotel for two nights” out of fear that his critics are “going to send hit squads to my house. … I've got five children and two stepchildren and I'm not going to have them fear about being home,” he said. “Maybe I can replace (racing) with some peace and quiet and deal with that.”
“You might be a tough guy, but you're a good-hearted tough guy,” Stein said to Gill. “When you leave, they'll never replace you, Michael…after looking at everything I feel for you.”
Said Gill: “Sometimes in this game you've got to fold to win.”
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