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Stop Horse Racing

Horse Abuse and Fixed Races

NY Daily News  1/14/05

Milk shake-down

Top trainer among first busts in alleged horse-race fix ring


A One Rocket in win that cops say was fixed.  

A One Rocket & trainer Greg Martin  

A top New York horse trainer and a Mafia-linked betting ring were charged yesterday with illegally doping a horse that won a race at Aqueduct as part of a $200 million gambling enterprise.

Thoroughbred trainer Greg Martin, along with a prominent harness driver and a mob-tied bettor, allegedly tried to fix a Dec. 18, 2003, race by slipping the horse a potent performance-boosting concoction just before post time.

The mixture -impossible to detect in Aqueduct's postrace drug tests - helped the little-known horse, A One Rocket, blaze out of the gate to win by an amazing 10 lengths.

"They doped a horse to ensure that the horse would win," said Benjamin Gruenstein, an assistant U.S. attorney. "This is not a one-time deal. This is something that was happening regularly."

Cops say the bet-on-a-sure-thing gang also doped horses and tried to fix races at Belmont and other tracks nationwide, with most of the horses finishing in the money.

But few enjoyed the stunning turnaround of A One Rocket.

Martin, 37, started training the unheralded A One Rocket after he won a relatively minor race on Dec. 13, 2003.

Five days later, the horse was entered in a higher-caliber race by its stable, International Equine Acquisitions, which co-owns a horse with Yankee manager Joe Torre and has former St. John's basketball coach Mike Jarvis on its payroll.

Martin then held a series of meetings with bettor David (Pebbles) Applebaum and harness driver Rene Poulin.

On the morning of the race, prosecutors say Poulin used a hose to give A One Rocket a dose of the so-called milk shake.

The odds on the horse plunged from 3-to-1 to 9-to-5 as illicit bets poured in - allowing bettors in the know to come away with a $5.60 payoff on a $2 bet.

Just after the race ended, Applebaum called his son, apparently to let him know they won big.

Martin, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Frank (Pancho)

Martin, faces up to 20 years behind bars on federal gambling, race-doping and fraud charges.

Applebaum, 56, of Ardsley, Westchester County, was hit with the same charges, along with his 21-year-old son, Jonathan, and Poulin.

Applebaum, Poulin and Martin pleaded not guilty last night in Manhattan Federal Court. They were released on bond.

The Big A scam was part of a much bigger scheme in which 17 people, including three reputed Gambino associates, brokered millions in illegal sports and racing wagers, prosecutors said.

The ring, led by several members of the Brooklyn-born Uvari family, took in as much as $80,000 a day in illicit bets from big-time bettors who paid a $100,000 initiation fee.

The Uvaris - Gerald, 67, Cesare, 63, and Anthony, 39 -

would place those bets with offshore betting houses and get a cut of every dollar wagered.

The scheme allowed the bettors to evade the Internal Revenue Service - and also enabled them to place large wagers without affecting track odds.

The Uvaris, in turn, used those gamblers' losses illegally to declare tax deductions, prosecutors charged.

Cops have seized millions in profits, including $500,000 from Marvin Meyerowitz, a 63-year-old Hackensack, N.J., man. They want to take Applebaum's homes in Westchester County and Las Vegas and are still eying suspects.

"We have a long way to go," NYPD Detective Matthew Moroney said.

Magic elixir that makes hooves fly Horse-racing insiders call it a "milk shake" - a virtually undetectable way to boost a horse's performance.

It works like this: A trainer or stable hand uses a garden hose to suck out the contents of a horse's stomach.

Just before the horse is to run, a mixture of baking soda, sugar and sports drink is poured through the horse's nose and down its throat.

The potent mixture does not include any banned drugs that might turn up in a post-race urine test.

But veterinarians say it slows or stops the release of toxins into the horse's bloodstream, preventing it from tiring as it pounds down the backstretch.

Dave Goldiner

Originally published on January 14, 2005  

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