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Politics no place for horse play!

Sep 9, 2003 7:36 AM

WE WERE JUST HORSIN’ AROUND: That was the view of a major Louisiana politician when he was called on the carpet for owning a portion of two racehorses, without putting up any money for their purchase or upkeep.

The problem came last week when it was revealed that the House Speaker Charlie DeWitt held the partnerships with Bryan Krantz, the owner of the Fair Grounds racetrack who had bred the two horses and had provided DeWitt and a lobbying friend with their ownership interest.

"It’s a well-known fact," said a fellow politician, "that Charlie DeWitt is the point person for the Fair Grounds."

What really created controversy was when DeWitt proposed legislation that would have voided a recent supreme court ruling that put the Fair Grounds in a $100 million hole for under-paying the horsemen with video lottery revenue. Krantz has since filed for bankruptcy protection.

DeWitt denied working on Fair Grounds’ behalf. "I don’t deal with Bryan (Krantz) that much. He’s a friend of mine but we don’t ever discuss business," he said.

As for the horse partnership, he said, he had wanted to get back into horse racing and felt that the partnership would accomplish that purpose. The partnership was dissolved when one horse died and the other was retired.


A WYNN/WIN FOR MARYLAND? Gamers will have their eyes focused on Maryland when the legislature returns in January. Even the influential House Speaker, Mike Busch, has said it will be a do-or die-session for the state’s gambling supporters.

That’s what makes it so interesting for Steve Wynn, whose Maryland lobbyist, Ed Wayson of Annapolis last week proposed three Las Vegas-styled casinos in additiona to slots at the state’s racetracks.

Wayson obviously knew that full-fledged casinos won’t fly. Not only is Busch opposed, but so is the governor, Robert Ehrlich.

But what about a deal such as the one proposed for the New York Racing Association, in which the tracks bring in an outside operator to provide the gaming expertise while the property and the machines are owned by the state lottery officials?

Maryland’s state coffers certainly would benefit from having Wynn’s expertise running their gaming operations. We’ll keep an eye on this one.


”˜TWAS A MATTER OF PRIDE: It won’t take long for the excited horseplayers to forget the names of the horses involved, but the race itself will be long remembered.

That’s the match race held at Del Mar on Sunday involving the meet’s leading jockeys: Julie Krone and Pat Valenzuela. It was hyped as a girl/boy thing, but it really wasn’t. As Krone explained, she drew the horse entered by trainer Bob Baffert while P-Val would ride the entry of Trainer Summer Mayberry.