Unfounded cheating allegation at Travers stains jockey's reputation


Last week the New York State Gaming Commission dismissed charges against jockey Luis Saez that alleged he used an illegal electrical device in winning the Travers Stakes on Will Take Charge.

The Travers was nearly two months ago, but the wheels of justice move slowly. In the meantime, these false charges put forth by Eric Guillot, trainer of Travers runner-up Moreno, tainted Saez’s reputation. The general public tends to remember the juicy accusation and not the legal acquittal.

The decision on these charges comes at the same time as a case involving baseball superstar Albert Pujols and former player and radio host Jack Clark.

Clark, on air, accused Pujols of using steroids. He cited a source who since has denied making the allegation. Pujols has filed a slander lawsuit seeking damages that he said will be donated to charity. The radio station then fired Clark after one week.

I doubt Saez has the financial resources that Pujols has to hire a team of lawyers to right a perceived wrong.

In fact, Saez told the Daily Racing Form that he doesn’t believe the false charges will affect his business.

However, bigger issues are at stake — in the court of public opinion. Many racing fans will believe, until the end of time, that Saez used a buzzer. And the horse racing industry suffered a loss of integrity at a time when it needs all the integrity it can muster.

The person who walks away scot-free from this is Guillot. In his heart, he believed Saez cheated. But isn’t it kind of unfair that after the commission findings he can shrug his shoulders and just say “never mind” to the matter?

Another person who should be mad is D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Will Take Charge. His horse now has beaten Guillot’s horse Moreno twice, in the Travers and then the Pennsylvania Derby.

Lukas and Saez have acted with class while a thorough investigation proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the charges were not true.

Who knows? Maybe during a big party on Breeders’ Cup weekend at Santa Anita Park, Saez, Lukas and Guillot will meet at the bar for a round of drinks. Sure. I would pay to be a fly on the wall to hear that conversation.

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■ KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE BOOK — Many out-of-town horseplayers this week might be interested in betting their favorite 2-year-olds in the Kentucky Derby Future Book at Wynn Las Vegas. If the horse or horses you like aren’t listed, ask John Avello for a price, and he’ll give you one.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.