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The biggest scandals of horse racing

The biggest scandals of horse racing

The equestrian is a sport that is not free of controversy. At the end of the day, it is also a business that moves large amounts of money, and the actions of those who live in it can often leave the purely sporting and transcend to the media. From doping to a network of bribes, discover the biggest scandals of horse racing below:

When doping reaches the turf

Did you think that doping was a matter reserved for humans? Well, the case of the Godolphin block will make you change your mind. One of the biggest scandals of horse racing was revealed in 2013 when, during a routine check carried out in England, it was revealed that 11 of the 40 copies belonging to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid of Dubai had received anabolic steroids for 10 years.
Many of these copies were great winners and, in addition, they would have made their owner more than 2 million euros in profits. Despite stopping the stableman for eight years, this episode further affected the already disregarded Godolphin, whose star jockey Frankie Dettori had tested positive for cocaine six months earlier.

Where is Shergar?

In the 70s, in Ireland, one of the national heroes was the equine Shergar. It was a very special issue that emerged victorious in numerous horse races, even being valued at 10 million euros in shares.
Everything was fine until February 8, 1983, when six masked and armed men kidnapped Shergar, leaving only a note that set her ransom at 5 million euros. Unfortunately, they failed to find the animal’s whereabouts or pay the ransom. The criminals were never identified.
It is known that Shergar was killed shortly after the abduction. An event that went down in history as one of the biggest scandals of horse racing.

Mr. Piloto and the poster of Los Zetas

Miguel Treviño Morales was the Los Zetas leader, a drug cartel that trafficked cocaine between Mexico and the city of Dallas, Texas. What does that have to do with horse racing? Well, a federal investigation in the United States discovered that, between 2009 and 2012, the Treviño Morales family had washed around 20 million euros through the sale of horses and their participation in races in the region.
With the help of his brother José, Treviño Morales laundered money from the cartel by buying copies of little value at an exorbitant price. The two had established a stable in Oklahoma to raise and train equines, as well as donated 16 million euros from Los Zetas in the Quarter Horse Association of America.
After a while all these examples of mediocre performance began to become great winners. In 2012, the horse Mr. Piloto won the All American Futurity at the Ruidoso Downs racecourse in New Mexico, with odds of 22 to 1.
While this is something that can happen in the world of horse racing, the victory of Mr. Piloto unleashed what would become one of the biggest scandals of horse racing. Although it has not been confirmed, Treviño Morales allegedly bribed those responsible for opening the racetrack doors so that the animal could have an advantage. Subsequently, Treviño Morales was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The operations of Dr. Gerard

Dr. Mark Gerard was an equine veterinarian and trusted man of the best equestrian teams and trainers in the world during the 60s and 70s. The reliable veterinarian led one of the biggest scandals of horse racing when he “exchanged” two almost identical specimens .
Indeed, in May 1977, Gerard bought “Cinzano” and “Lebon”, whose appearance was very similar. The first was a Uruguayan horse of 3 years, winner of several races, valued at 85 thousand euros, while the second, five years, had a value of 1,800 euros and had only won once in two years.
When Lebon died in an accident on his farm, Gerard claimed that Cinzano had been in fact, which allowed him to collect the insurance of 180 thousand euros.
Later, in 1970, the real Cinzano was registered in a race under the name of Lebon, winning against a quota of 57 to 1. With this exchange, Gerard won more than 80 thousand euros, however, the grace did not last long, because a Uruguayan journalist did notice the difference between both horses and the veterinarian was sentenced to one year in prison and the payment of a fine of one thousand euros.

The mistreatment of Asmussen

For 26 years, the equine trainer Steve Asmussen built an impressive reputation and career within the equestrian, accumulating more than 6,700 victories and 24 million dollars.
However, in March 2014, thanks to an investigation by the PETA animal defense organization, the trainer and his assistant were accused of perpetrating various forms of animal abuse, such as administering drugs to horses for non-therapeutic purposes, or the use of electric devices powered by jockeys so that the specimens ran faster.
The test of what is today one of the biggest scandals of horse racing was provided by a seven-hour video showing how many times equines were given different injections and tranquilizers.

An unsolved murder

This event occurred in 2011 has a place in the list of major scandals of horse racing. Its protagonist was the former coach of the Smoking Aces team, Les Samba, who was murdered in Australia.
The culprit of this crime remains to be resolved, because the authorities have not found him. However, what at first seemed like a simple investigation, it was revealed as something much more complex: the coach apparently had a second life and his death would be linked to a matter of drugs and debts.
The authorities also established a connection between the murder of Samba and the victory of one of the horses of Smoking Aces after two jockeys were in charge of preventing the victory of the favorites of the race. So far, the case remains unresolved.

When the jockeys conspire

Sometimes the biggest scandals of horse races do not involve the coaches, but the riders themselves. In 1974, the popular jockey Michael Hole told his trainer John Cotter that he had received an offer to stop the horse during one of the races at the racecourse in Saratoga, New York. This sparked an entire investigation into a network of bribes that compromised winners of the Kentucky Derby and other renowned jockeys.
Later, it was discovered that the head of the network was a member of the Boston mafia, Tony “Gordo” Ciulla. According to his testimony, his modus operandi consisted in bribing four jockeys separately to ensure that the already rather fat bets benefited one of the less likely horses. This must happen in the ninth race. His testimony gave rise to numerous captures throughout the country and, in exchange, Ciulla received a new identity from the authorities.
With respect to Michael Hole, who started everything, he was found dead by asphyxia in 1976 inside his car. The official cause of death was suicide, however, many believe that his death had notes of revenge for what happened, thus becoming one of the biggest scandals of horse racing.