April 12, 1995 in Sports

Bergsrud Implicates His Ex-Agent Banished Jockey Testifies Agent Nelson Inquired About Fixing Playfair Horse Races

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Suspended jockey Scott Bergsrud testified Tuesday that his former agent asked him if he was interested in “making some extra money” by withholding his mount in a 1993 race in Spokane.

The agent, LeRoy Nelson, is appealing a Washington Horse Racing Commission suspension of his license in a hearing at the state attorney general’s office in Spokane.

Nelson, of Vancouver, Wash., was one of six who were suspended last June for alleged race fixing at Playfair Race Course in November 1993.

Nelson obtained a court order that allowed him to work through the 1994 season.

As an agent, Nelson lined up riding assignments for two of the most successful jockeys at Playfair, Bergsrud and Mark Hadley.

Nelson said he will deny Bergsrud’s allegation when the hearing at the state Attorney General’s office in Spokane moves into its third day. Nelson is scheduled to testify this afternoon before administrative law judge David G. Hansen.

The conversation with Nelson, Bergsrud testified, took place before the 10th race on Nov. 5.

Bergsrud said Nelson called, asking if he was “interested in making some extra money.”

The jockey said he told Nelson he wasn’t interested.

Assistant attorney general Eric Mentzer asked if Nelson explained how Bergsrud could make extra money.

“Holding the horse back out of the top three placings,” Bergsrud said.

Nelson was asked outside the attorney general’s office to comment.

“I never called him, for one thing,” Nelson said. “That never happened. I looked it up. The horse we’re talking about - Irish Design - was scratched that morning, when we were doing the draws (setting the lineup for the race).

“There would be no reason for me to call him that afternoon and try to do something like that when the horse wasn’t even in the race,” Nelson said.

Bergsrud on Monday agreed not to appeal for reinstatement of his license - basically accepting a lifetime ban in the state - for an understanding that he would not be subjected to criminal prosecution.

Attorneys general for the commission - Mentzer and Mary Tennyson - spent the afternoon identifying pattern wagers that excluded horses ridden by suspended jockeys Tim Masters, Jeff Jones, Bergsrud and Darren Parker.

The commission’s lawyers are attempting to link winning tickets cashed by Nelson to the fixing of trifecta races at Playfair in November, 1993.

At the center of the alleged fixing scheme, investigators claim, is former trainer Dale Norwick of Pasco, who is in jail for a conviction unrelated to horse racing.

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