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Amy, 26, was the 16th-leading rider in the country last year, having won purses worth more than $2.6 million. He is 5'3", weighs 110 pounds, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and was the leading apprentice at San Juan's famous El Comandante racetrack in 1972. The next year he came north to begin his career in the continental U.S. He testified that he met Errico in various New York jockeys' rooms and, after refusing a couple of bribe offers, was threatened by Errico before finally accepting his first $1,500 fee, in the ninth race at Aqueduct on March 5, 1974, when he rode 2-1 favorite Prince Stoic, who finished sixth. At that time Errico was allowed in the jocks' rooms under a rule then in force that allowed any licensed member of The Jockey's Guild to use the facilities. Not brought up in the trial was the fact that in 1972 Errico had taken only two mounts; in 1973 one; in 1974 11, and in 1975 two. Errico's total purse earnings plus his riding fees in those four years barely exceeded $900, but he maintained his access to the jockeys' rooms.
During his time on the stand, Amy maintained that other jockeys had discussed fixing races in his presence, and he reeled off a list of names, many of which had been cited by Ciulla. Ciulla also had said that Errico had been the intermediary in his own New York dealings.
The names that came from Amy's lips caused a hush in the courtroom. He said he had talked about fixing races with Angel Cordero Jr., Jorge Velasquez, Braulio Baeza and Jacinto Vasquez, four of the six top money-winning jockeys in U.S. racing history. He also named one of Forego's riders, Heliodoro Gustines; Jean Cruguet, the jockey for Seattle Slew; Eddie Maple, the last jockey to ride Secretariat; and Venezia, Eddie Belmonte, Marco Castaneda and Jaime Arellano.
Amy has been barred from the grounds of New York Racing Association tracks, and he will appeal the suspension of his license by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. A suspension in one state is usually honored by racing authorities in other jurisdictions.
The seven races for which Amy says he accepted fix money—to hold horses back, take them wide or fail to warm them up properly before a race—were all trifecta events, with the ultimate payoffs ranging from $911 to $5,394 for each winning $2 trifecta ticket. While Ciulla, a key government witness in the New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Michigan cases, did not testify in Errico's trial, he was available to the prosecution in Brooklyn and, according to law-enforcement sources, could testify in future cases.
Errico's conviction poses many questions about horse racing's ability—or willingness—to police itself. Racing's management not only failed to lead, but it also did not follow up information generated by others. It just plain got out of the way and let federal agencies do its work for it. In fact, one person close to the investigation said the New York Racing Association "would have been happy to see the whole thing go away and die." Not only did the management of many racetracks, as well as the membership of the Jockey Club, fail to protect its customers from crimes involving millions in lost wagers, but it failed to protect the trainers and owners of horses performing in races, too. It is a shameful record. Only after Amy's testimony did the New York State Racing and Wagering Board announce that it would hold full-scale hearings into the charges.
But perhaps the public has already gotten wise to how racetracks are run, because the hard evidence shows that from 1976 to 1979 total attendance at the 89 U.S. tracks tumbled an average of 45,564 people per day. Though allegations that races had been rigged were made nearly two years ago, racing's leaders have not taken the initiative to examine this particular problem and figure out how to correct it.
The next thing certain to happen is that more trials and hearings will be held—and more of racing's silks may be sullied. Then stories will appear about tighter security at tracks and in-house investigations, but all that will merely be a matter of locking the barns after the races have been stolen. The conviction of Scamp Errico proves that this particular race is not over. It still has about an eighth of a mile to go. As always, the last eighth is the most desperate.