Travers Investigation: A Job Well Done

by | 10.07.2013 | 1:47pm
One of the photos used as evidence in the Travers investigation

I praise racing commissions about as often as I play Frisbee with manhole covers, but the New York State Gaming Commission deserves credit for the manner in which it conducted the investigation into the running of the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

The NYSGC's final report on the matter was comprehensive and puts to rest any question about the use of an illegal electrical device by jockey Luis Saez on Will Take Charge, the Travers winner. This is the way racing regulators should operate: thoroughly and, in the end, transparently.

Had the regulators not done their work so thoroughly and professionally, the sport would be plagued with so-called grassy knoll conspirators who believe the game is crooked. Had New York racing stewards or the NYSGC quickly dismissed losing trainer Eric Guillot's charges – baseless and ridiculous as they have been proven to be – Saez would have a dark cloud following him throughout his career. Unfortunately, as it is, his name will be linked to the controversy for years to come and the jockey is entitled to ask Guillot, “Where do I go to get my good name back?”

If Guillot truly believed Saez carried the device, based on a video his brother took and then was downloaded to his cell phone, he should have filed a complaint with racing officials and kept his mouth shut. He didn't.

“I brought them the video,” Guillot told the New York Daily News. “I showed it to 100 people, ain't been one person to deny it yet. You see a blurry, black device go from the right hand to the left hand and then he drops it.”

It's too bad Guillot can't be billed for the NYSGC's costs of the investigation or fined – as jockeys occasionally are for a frivolous claim of foul. He seemed to almost enjoy the spotlight this case brought him and his baseless charge against Saez appeared to be part of an ongoing, senseless taunting campaign of Will Take Charge and his trainer, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. For his part, Lukas showed tremendous restraint throughout the investigation, as did Saez, refraining from portraying Guillot as the buffoon he turned out to be.

The biggest statement they made came three weeks after Guillot filed his complaint, when Will Take Charge decisively defeated Moreno – the horse who lost the Travers by a nose – thanks largely to a brilliant ride by Saez.

  • Don Reed

    Eric must be very disappointed. Devastated.

    He could have SWORN that he saw Will Take Charge getting juiced with that manhole cover.

    And that no one could find it on the track, after the race.

    • Rockbarton

      Eric Guill-who ?

      • Don Reed

        “Eric thinks we’re Guill-able.”

        • Olebobbowers

          He acted like a Sea Gull, lookin’ for a tidbit on Travers day. I’m sure he’s shocked and saddened there wasn’t one to be found.

  • HogHater

    Thumbs up too the NYSGC an glad to see that Saez had his name cleared cuss it would’ve been a lost for the young man an the sport if he wasn’t.

  • tom

    I hope Saez sues and ends up owning that crazy Cajun. The only mistake the kid made was being quoted as saying he didn’t think it had any impact on his business. That’s no way to win a defamation case.

    • NY4Horsess

      It does show the young man has grace under pressure, and the character of a good rider.

  • 4Bellwether666

    I like Moreno in spite of his trainer…

    • Knowitall

      The horse is the only one with class in that outfit. Imagine how good Moreno might be if he was in a real barn?

  • Knowitall

    Indeed EG opening his loud mouth is why the investigation had to be so thorough. He should be run out of the sport under the wide berth of his mere existence, “is detrimental to the conduct of racing.”

  • robet little t tuccille

    well lets be real here there are jockeys that do ride with it for a fact paco lopez and some others and i was told by people in the monmouth park jockey room one of the laez boys drop one on the floor in the room so lets be real…. just like no trainers drug horses… it happens…

  • DoubtingThomas

    So what did Saez tuck under the saddlecloth? The action was clearly obvious to anyone.

  • Don Reed

    Did Guillot dream up this farce all by himself or did he have help?

    • jerome partington

      why has it never been explained what he was doing pulling up by the actions of his hands it appeared that he put something under the saddle??? NO OTHER JOCK IN THE RACE DID THIS BY PULLING UP seems covering it up with a glossy investigation is better PR for racing

      • Lexington 3

        Have someone read the full report to you, Jerome. Forensic video analysis provided by the New York State Police covered that.

  • Eddie Donnally

    It was obvious to me from the beginning that Saez did not use a machine because of many reasons, the most obvious of which is that he switched sticks at the top of the stretch from his right to left hand, an action impossible if a jockey has a machine in one hand. A jockey simply cannot hold a machine, a rein and whip in the same hand. Though I am far from proud, I admit in my bio, “Ride the White Horse: A Checkered Jockey’s Story of Racing, Rage and Redemption” to using a machine on at least 50 horses. Though I am not at all advocating for their use, a machine surprises a horse and a whip used incorrectly and even correctly can cause far more pain. I expressed my view on Saez’s innocence on several article comment sections and in an article written by Bill Finley.
    I am happy that the racing media is giving the story of his exoneration as much space as his accusation.

  • Jay Stone

    Good to see a young talented rider has had the tarnish removed from his biggest win and a buffoon has proven to be what he is. Lucas has shown his hall of fame class by not getting involved in idiotic rhetoric and letting the actions of his horse seek for him.

  • Figless

    NY really seems to be getting their act together, in the old days something like this would have taken months to adjudicate, kudos all around.

  • Iceman

    Eddie Donnally stop promoting your BS book, these jocks have more talent in their baby finger than you have in your whole body. Did he or did he not it’s inconclusive, end of story. You giving your opinion means nothing because if what you wrote was true you could never have tagged in on this, you would have been whacked a long time ago, back to dream land lowlife.

    • Vivian Bell

      That, Iceman, was totally uncalled for … and incredibly misinformed.

  • George Anderson

    I think that anyone who would think is acceptable to use an electric device on a horse, SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN HORSE RACING. Sorry but your amateur who clearly can’t afford to be in the sport.

    • 4Bellwether666

      You got to be on something…Dump what ever it is…

  • Indulto

    I think this is a positive development for racing, and for NYRA in particular since it needed something to offset the food truck name fiasco which now traces back to the highest levels of authority. Saez’s sudden visibility, confirming victory, and final vindication certainly can’t hurt his career. I think the horse, Moreno, who has demonstrated admirable consistency since breaking his maiden on Belmont day and then finishing ahead of two Classic winners in the Travers, is worth watching.

  • jamrpb

    Hey Ray, did you see the video? 100, yes 100 people saw the video that CLEARLY showed “something” being transfered to his left hand. Like they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words…a video is worth a million.”
    You probably believe Oswald could get off 3 headshots in under 6.5 seconds with a bolt action rifle…ha! And the NYSGA is squeaky clean. What did you expect them to find? What about everyone that bet the 30-1 longshot to come in? Well, screw them, right?

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