By Ray Paulick
Wednesday was our third day of the continuing saga of Michael Gill, the controversial mortgage broker/horse owner from New Hampshire. We first broke the story on Monday about an incident that took place at Penn National racetrack last weekend when jockeys voted not to ride in future races where the field included a Michael Gill-owned horse. The jockeys took the unprecedented action after one of Gill's horses, trained by Darrel Delahoussaye, broke down past the finish in Saturday night's fifth race, causing a trailing horse to fall. Jockeys were quoted in subsequent published reports that they didn't feel safe because of what they said was an unusually high injury rate among Gill's horses.
“We did it for safety concerns,” jockey Tom Clifton was quoted as saying by the Thoroughbred Times. “We've got horses left and right snapping legs off in front of us, and every time it happens, three or four guys behind him go down, too. At what point do you say, 'Listen, this is getting out of control.' That's why we did it, strictly as a safety concern. I have nothing against Michael Gill. I've ridden races for him before. I'm just getting tired of watching my fellow riders and horses go down that don't deserve to.”
On Tuesday, we gave Gill a chance to provide his side of the story—and he did. He made a number of claims that some individuals told the Paulick Report are just not true, including a statement that “all of the horses go to retirement programs” when they can no longer race.
Prominent owner Maggi Moss, like Gill active in the claiming ranks, was following the story and contacted the Paulick Report Tuesday, asking if we would run her “open letter” to Gill, asking him to “please get out of racing.”
Gill has long been a lightning rod for controversy in this industry, and all three stories created a firestorm of comments from readers, some anonymous and some posting under their own name. These comment boards can be tough, but we didn't think the criticism of Gill (and, yes, there were defenders, too) would prompt him to respond with a bizarre, rambling and threatening message that included a vow to sue me, Maggi Moss, jockey Tom Clifton and Penn National horseman Layne Gilforte.
Following is Gill's post:
“This is my first email response ever. I am the owner of these horses not the trainer. Every one of my trainers has strict instructions that if a horse is sore, you don't run that horse and there is not a trainer that has worked for me that will dispute that by name. I give away more horses than anyone in this industry and I have a bill of sale for one dollar for each and everyone. Many of these horses are still running but not for me.
“None of my horses have tested positive for anything. So when you see the comments on these blogs they are coming from trainers like Mr. Guilforte that won't tell you that I claim a bunch of his horses and he cries each and every time and I mean big tears, Maggie Moss who has horses running in Penn now an has Stephanie Beatie to claim horses, and the other bloggers? Jockeys I don't use. So when you win $3 million dollars out of a little track in Western Pennsylvania their motives are pretty clear. The other group of bloggers hates horse racing all together, and jump on every opportunity to give me a black eye. Every one of these horses were bread to race, otherwise they would not be here and trust me they do not come cheap.
“I want all you bloggers to pay attention because class is in session: Gillforte, Maggie Moss, Mr Clifton, Ray Paulick, pay particular attention. Have you all heard of liable? And antitrust? If you think I am kidding about suing you, you haven't been paying attention. I have never made a threat and not followed through. I have a case in the Supreme Court right now. I am going to have horse racing as my business, and my hobby will be punishing each and every one of you pinheads, so happy blogging you have my attention.”
For the record, we're not scared.
And we're certainly not going to let the threat of a frivolous lawsuit intimidate us or prevent us from taking a closer look at Gill's racing operation.
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