Mango betting 'personal matter' De Francis: VP's gambling hasn't interfered with work HORSE RACING

August 09, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Pimlico/Laurel operator Joe De Francis defended track executive Jim Mango yesterday, saying that even though his senior vice president of mutuels and development gambled extensively, "he is not addicted to gambling. It never interfered with his work. And the decision to amend an employment contract we have with him was made mutually."

De Francis referred to a recently added clause in Mango's contract that says that he could be fired if he continues to gamble.

Mango agreed to stop gambling on July 1, according to a report in Saturday's Washington Post detailing Mango's gambling habits.

De Francis said Mango will not be fired, "and I can say absolutely and unequivocally, there have been no improprieties in the way he has handled his job."

In his position, Mango supervises the track's entire pari-mutuel system.

It is not illegal or against the rules of the Maryland Racing Commission for track executives to gamble, and the state racing commission said it has no reason to investigate Mango's activities.

Racing commissioners, track owners, even previous general managers have wagered at the track.

However, racing officials, such as stewards, racing secretary's office personnel and jockeys' valets, are prohibited from betting, and jockeys can only bet on their own mounts through the horse's trainer.

"This is purely a personal matter," De Francis said. "It was something that we both saw was pointed in the wrong direction, and we took steps to nip it in the bud. . . . Jim Mango is not a horse or a jockey, and if he bets he can't affect the outcome of a race."

Mango's betting habits were hardly a secret at the track. He has discussed them with other track executives, employees and reporters in the past year.

"It was my suggestion that I add the clause to my contract," Mango said yesterday. "I saw something that I wanted to repair, and that's the way I went about it."

"How bad was my betting? . . . It was just a few races a day. There are rumors that I'd bet maybe $500, $600 wagers at a time. But that's crazy."


Brassafrass, a first-time starter owned by Elaine Bassford and trained by King Leatherbury, was destroyed before the fifth race at Pimlico. The 2-year-old Marine Brass filly lost her rider in the starting gate, broke through the doors and then ran loose for one circuit. Outriders attempted to catch her but failed. She ran through a small hole between the gate and the rail, tore up her chest and shoulder and broke a leg. . . . Pimlico/Laurel executives De Francis, Mango and Marty Jacobs will keep an economic interest in a track being built by the Lone Star Jockey Club in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but have relinquished managerial duties because the principal Lone Star partners, Jim Musselman and Preston Carter, merged with Hollywood Park racing executive R. D. Hubbard. De Francis said a strategic policy committee has been established concerning Maryland-Texas participation in such areas as joint simulcasting. . . . Premier Mombo, the longest shot in the eight-horse race, won the $44,450 Toddler Stakes. The filly is owned by Guy B. Snowden, president of GTECH Corp., which supplies Maryland's pari-mutuel and lottery equipment.

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