The owner of Kentucky Derby winner, I'll Have Another - Paul Reddam - who once owned standardbreds, said he could never be involved in harness racing ownership again while administrators' like the New York State Racing and Wagering Board were controlling the industry.
“There’s no incentive for someone like me, or the general public in fact, to get involved when the only press harness racing seems to get is negative press.
“Poor ole Lou (Pena) has been on the end of a witch-hunt. I’ve known Lou for about 20 years now and I know that he got to the top through a lot of sweat and hard work - not by cheating. He's a very good horseman.
“They (the Board) have got the cart and the horse definitely mixed up here,” Reddam told Harnesslink.
The 56-year-old was referring to the Board’s suspension of Sacramento’s Lou Pena last month for 1,700 equine drug violations in nearly 700 races.
Reddam, a former philosophy professor at California State University in Los Angeles, thinks logically when it comes to racing. He loves the sport and has proven to be a success both with his career and in racing ownership.
He reached the pinnacle of thoroughbred racing on May 5, 2012, when his Santa Anita Derby winner I'll Have Another - the colt be bought for $35,000 - streaked to a clear victory in the Kentucky Derby and, then followed that with a win in the Preakness.
But Reddam’s hopes of becoming the first owner of Triple Crown champion in 34 years were dashed when I’ll Have Another suffered a swollen left front tendon while being housed at a detention barn.
It was the start of tendinitis, and because it could have taken six months to treat, the champion was retired.
Asked what his thoughts were on tightened security detention barns, Reddam replied:
“Pre-race testing would have solved this and it would have also protected the public. They decided a few days before the race to have a detention barn, and I wasn’t happy with that.
“I’m not saying my horse would have not got hurt had he not been there but it did disrupt his training routine. All I know was that he was 100 per cent fit going into the barn and now we have been forced to retire him. It’s just another variable in racing that we don’t need.
“As in the case in with Lou Pena, the rules need to be adjusted so everyone in racing is on an even playing field,” Reddam said.
He had harsh words for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
“Get your head out of your behind and do what’s right for harness racing.”
But Reddam’s own trainer, Doug O’Neill was recently found guilty of drug charges.
In May 2012, after a two-year legal battle with the California Horse Racing Board, O'Neill was found to be responsible for a horse that tested with excess carbon dioxide levels above the permitted level of TCO2.
As a result he was not found guilty of "milk-shaking" the horse - providing an "illegal performance-enhancing mixture," O'Neill was deemed responsible for the animal's care, and barred from horse racing for 45 days and fined $15,000.
“Lou’s case is not about returning a positive. He never did a thing wrong and ended up on the end of a witch-hunt. It’s a jealousy thing. Harness racing hates to applaud winners. It’s absurd. I haven’t spoken to Lou for a while because I haven’t been involved now for a couple of years.
“I think it’s terrible what harness racing is doing in North America. They are continually shooting themselves in the foot and making all the wrong headlines,” Reddam said.
“The people who make the rules are ruining it for all the loyal owners, great horses and hard-working trainers and drivers who give their lives to the sport,’ he added.
Reddam said he wasn’t surprised why the general public were not taking to harness racing.
“When we read about harness racing we read about cheats – and in Lou Pena’s case they aren’t even cheats. Why aren’t there more positive stories out there?
“The Board claims integrity but they are actually killing the sport,” he said.
Reddam was introduced to racing by a friend working as a standardbred groom when he was in high school in Windsor, Ontario. He attended meetings at Windsor Raceway that eventually led to his involvement as an owner while working as a university professor in Los Angeles.
But like the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, he believed his favorite old track and Ontario Liberals were examples of how harness racing should not progress.
“Windsor Raceway has been degenerating for quite along time. What’s the motivation to close the slot parlour? Just like anything, you have to put capital dollars in to keep your business feasible. It seemed like they had a thriving horse economy in Ontario and the carpet was pulled out from underneath them - boom! It’s going to cost a lot of job loss," Reddam said.
His best standardbred was 59-win pacer (1:54.1) Riviera Hanover, and entered thoroughbred ownership in 1998 by claiming Ocean Warrior.
But it was via galloping that Reddam has found success in North America and in Europe. He won Breeders' Cup races with Wilko in 2004 and Red Rocks in 2007. Some of his many stakes winners are Square Eddie, Elloluv, Sharp Lisa, Cash Included, Swept Overboard and Mistical Plan.
Reddam graduated from the University of Windsor with a bachelor's degree in psychology. He then obtained a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Toronto.
In 1979, he moved to California to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California and made his home in that state. In 1995, he established a mortgage lending company, Ditech, and sold the business to General Motors in 1999.
He is currently the president of Anaheim-based Cash Call, the mortgage refinancing and high-interest personal loan company.
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) Paul Reddam and Doug O’Neill announce I'll Have Another's retirement
(2) J. Paul Reddam Family: "I'll Have Another"
(3) Paul Reddam, I'll Have Another's Owner:
(4) MPP Taras Natyshak congratulates Kentucky Derby winner and Windsorite Paul Reddam
(4) Paul Reddam interview: