If `Scalped' wins at Churchill, it's just the ticket for trainer

ON HORSE RACING

Horse Racing

April 29, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Sometimes in life you just need to kick back and have a little fun. Let's have some fun with Scalped Ticket (although James Casey certainly didn't).

No, Casey, the Maryland trainer and veterinarian, had no fun with a scalped ticket two years ago at the Kentucky Derby. But Casey may get the last laugh - in court and on the track.

If you'll recall the story, which columnist Dan Rodricks chronicled in the news pages of The Sun, Casey was arrested in 1999 at the Derby after offering to sell a scalped ticket to a police officer. He was incarcerated in a chain-link cage at Churchill Downs and then held in a filthy Jefferson County jail cell with at least 10 other prisoners. One sexually groped him repeatedly, Casey said.

Casey was imprisoned for 13 1/2 hours and treated worse than a common criminal, he said. And for what?

He went to the Derby looking for two tickets. He found three with a scalper. The scalper insisted that Casey buy them all - $42 tickets for $100 apiece. Casey did. Then he was approached by a man who asked whether he had extra tickets. Casey said he had one. He offered to sell it for the same price he'd paid for it. The alleged buyer was an undercover police officer. Casey was arrested for ticket scalping.

Upon his release, an enraged Casey fought back. Instead of paying the $250 fine, he spent what he said amounted to $10,000 in legal fees and travel expenses.

First, a Kentucky judge dismissed the case. Then, a prosecutor pursued it again, only to have another judge dismiss the case.

Now, for the fun.

Casey, who trains eight horses at Laurel Park, bred a mare he'd claimed, Till Whenever, to the stallion Weshaam. The resulting foal, a filly, looked pretty good. She was born in 1999, the same year as Casey's nightmare. He named her Scalped Ticket.

On April 4 at Aqueduct, in her first race, Scalped Ticket zipped to a 6 1/4 -length victory in a 4 1/2 -furlong maiden-special-weight sprint. Casey was impressed.

Next he's planning on running her in a 2-year-old stakes against males. Where? Churchill Downs. When? On Saturday, Kentucky Derby day.

"My reason for going down there is not to try to stick it to them," Casey said. "It's to try to win the race."

One can merely take Casey at his word. He said where he's trying to stick it to them - Louisville and its police department for illegal arrest, the Jefferson County corrections department for sexual assault - is in court. Casey has filed suit. The case is scheduled for trial July 9 in Louisville.

Special after all?

After declaring Captain Steve out of the Pimlico Special, trainer Bob Baffert said last week that he's reconsidering.

After winning the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 24, Captain Steve wasn't doing so well at Santa Anita Park, Baffert said. But last week, after Tiznow was injured, Captain Steve suddenly perked up at Churchill Downs.

Tiznow, the reigning Horse of the Year, injured a vertebra in his back and will miss about two months' training, said his trainer, Jay Robbins. Tiznow would have been Captain Steve's main competition in the May 12 race at Pimlico.

If Captain Steve makes the trip, he could line up against these prospective starters: Albert the Great, Include, Milwaukee Brew, Pleasant Breeze and English invader Sergeant York.

Pick Four, win more

Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operations officer for the Maryland Jockey Club, said the Pick Four wager at Pimlico has been such a success that the track will offer enriched Pick Fours on Preakness Day and the day before.

On May 18, Pimlico will offer Pick Fours on races 4-7 with a guaranteed payout of $25,000 and on races 9-12 with a guaranteed payout of $50,000. The 11th race is the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.

Then on May 19, Pimlico will offer Pick Fours on races 4-7 with a guaranteed payout of $100,000 and on races 9-12 with a guaranteed payout of $200,000. The 11th race is the Preakness.

The takeout will be 14 percent, the same as with the daily Pick Four.

Tammaro service held

A memorial service for Baltimore native and former Maryland trainer John Tammaro Jr., 75, was held Monday in Lexington, Ky. Tammaro drowned after his car slid into a canal near his home in southern Florida.

His son, John, who trains at Bowie, said his father took a wrong turn on his way home from Gulfstream Park. Trying to turn his car around near a boat ramp, he apparently backed up too far and slid into the water, his son said.

No services are planned in Maryland. His son said anyone wishing to pay tribute to his father, a jockey before turning to training, could make a contribution the Disabled Jockeys Fund, c/o The Jockeys' Guild, P.O. Box 250, Lexington, Ky., 40588-0250.

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