06/21/2009 11:00PM

Hoosier denies coercion claim


An official of Hoosier Park in Indiana has acknowledged that the track gave its racing secretary a list of trainers who were supposed to receive specific stall allotments, but the official also said that the list was only a recommendation and not a demand tied to horsemen's support of pro-Hoosier legislation.

Jeff Smith, the general manager of Hoosier, said in an e-mail that the track has withdrawn "the stall recommendations in question" and that the track's parent company, Centaur, has requested an outside investigation into the circumstances surrounding the distribution of the list.

"We have conducted a preliminary internal investigation and do not believe that stall privileges or anything else of value were offered or exchanged in support of any legislative initiative," Smith said in an e-mail sent Friday night.

Last week, Hoosier Park's racing secretary, Raymond Cook, said in a letter distributed to horsemen and in an interview that officials of Hoosier and Centaur had given him the list and warned him that his job was in "serious jeopardy" if he did not award the stalls as listed. Cook said that the list of stalls was reached in agreement with a horseman, Larry Smallwood, who has worked with Hoosier on legislation that would reduce the amount of money the track pays to the state from slot-machine revenues.

On Friday, the Indiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said that it would meet on Tuesday to discuss the evidence in the case and decide whether to take action against Smallwood, who is on the horsemen's association's board of directors.