Jun 9, 2009


Peteski was named to the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame recently as he well deserved to be, having won the Triple Crown in his native land. In fact, he authored a Grand Slam of sorts by taking the unrestricted Gr 1 Molson Million at the expense of Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero and other American stalwarts. That quartet of 3-year-old races had been swept only once before when legendary filly Dance Smartly swept her male opposition. She tacked on a Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs to top off her career.

While Peteski was demonstrating class at a mile and a quarter in the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine his owner showed anything but in an inexcusable breach of good taste.

New York owner Earle Mack showed up in Toronto with an entourage from the New York City Ballet, headed by director Peter Martins. Each morning a bemused Woodbine backstretch was treated to ballet steps on the back lawns, a scene that Degas might have appreciated.

Some weeks before Mack had purchased Peteski from breeder Barry Schwartz of Montreal (not the NYRA Barry Schwartz) who was said to be in need of cash while trying to privatize Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

My assignment that day as a member of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was to interview the winning owner as he or she made their way to the winner’s circle. These sound bites are usually an innocuous 60 seconds or so in duration to fill in while the winning horse makes its way back.

Mack made his way to my camera position and we waited for a one-minute commercial to conclude.

“Make sure you tell the audience that I named Peteski for my good friend Peter Martins,” Mack suddenly blurted.

“You know that’s not true,” I responded, knowing full well that he had owned the horse but a few weeks. Peteski had raced in Schwartz colors on a number of occasions and had been named by him. “Whatever your motivation is I can promise you we are not going there.”

A strained and perfunctory interview followed while I seethed that a guy would be so obnoxious and fraudulent to tamper with coverage of Canada’s national horse race. 

I told him as much later in the Turf Çlub but he was unrepentant and went off in search of more champagne.

That happened l6 years ago and I heard little of Mack other than his being named US Ambassador to Finland.

Then he popped up again down in Florida, posing as a white knight in getting an ethics bill passed in that legislature. Give me a break. Who’s going to reform the reformer?