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Jelinsky-thoroughbred owner link scrutinized

Finally, it appears the thoroughbred racing community in Kentucky is beginning to look into the relationship between the bookmaking Jelinsky brothers and high-rolling horse owner Ahmed Zayat.

The Lexington Herald-Leader’s Janet Patton reports that Kentucky racing regulators are exploring the connections between Zayat and Michael and Jeffrey Jelinsky, who pleaded guilty last year in Las Vegas in connection with their illegal bookmaking and money laundering activities.

It’s considered unethical for a horse owner to associate with illegal bookmakers. Zayat is suspected of making loans to the Jelinskys.

Las Vegas sources informed more than a year ago that Zayat was betting with the brothers. Others have floated rumors that the thoroughbred owner had partnered with them.

From the newspaper:

"We’re looking into the relationship," said Marc A. Guilfoil, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Zayat’s horse Eskendereya is a top contender for the Kentucky Derby this year.

According to financial documents filed in his bankruptcy case in New Jersey, Zayat lent $657,500 to members of the Jelinsky family from November 2006 to February 2008. Zayat told The New York Times the money is not owed to him from gambling but from personal loans made to the brothers because he was a friend of their father.

The Jelinsky brothers pleaded guilty in February 2009 to operating an illegal gambling business using offshore race books as well as casino race books in Las Vegas from 2005 to August 2007.

The brothers forfeited nearly $5 million.

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