Walter Case Jr hasn’t driven since finishing third behind the Joel Wheeler trained Jamie My Boy at Plainridge Racecourse back on November 28, 2008.
Case served four years of a five year sentence at the Belmont Correctional Institution (Ohio) from 2004 for a felonious assault after stabbing his then-estranged wife Nadine in the back with a steak knife. He was a model prisoner.
Case had just 25 drives at Plainridge from November 21-28 before being told he couldn’t drive again. He won 10 of those races when he was able to get a brief clearance to race.
But his road back since has been filled with obstacles, legal issues and detractors. The 52-year-old has applied to drive again and early indications suggest the New York reinsman could be back doing what he does best this season. As well as being the sixth greatest driver of all-time, Case has also amassed $43.7 million in purses.
Earlier this month Case applied for a Pennsylvania racing license and is still waiting to hear back from authorities. His attorney, Howard Taylor was cautiously optimistic. “I am as optimistic as I can get,” said Taylor, who is also a respected standardbred owner.
He explained getting Case back driving again was a twin-edged process. Not only must he be granted a license but one of the three Pennsylvania harness tracks must be willing to allow him to drive. “There’s always the issue of whether the tracks will let him participate. I have not received a final word on that but I am hopeful.
“Any track that can let him race should be banging the door down to welcome him. The handle goes up everywhere he goes. “I have received preliminary indications that are positive. The Commission said they would look favorably upon the request if a track would let him in. Preliminary indications with the tracks have been good.
“It looks like Mr. Case could be back soon,” Taylor said.” “There’s a flicker of hope now,’ he added. An absolute genius on the racetrack, Case’s career has been stalled on several occasions due to substance abuse, but he always returned stronger than ever. Last year Case’s hopes were dashed yet again when the Massachusetts Racing Commission denied his application ruling that he “lacked sufficient moral character” to be licensed.
Case’s spirit was mauled and his wife Luanne told Harnesslink and he almost gave up on retruning to the sulky again, but last month he sought Taylor’s help and reapplied for his license again. Track managers and administrators gave him some positive feedback which has fuelled his fire.
Taylor said he would not push the Pennsylvania Harness Commission to make a ruling on Case’s application until he has an assurance from one of the state’s tracks that it will permit his client to drive. Case was optimistic without getting carried away.
“I want to make my come-back at Pocono Downs. I spent a year there in 2000 and I was the leading driver.
“I really liked it there and The Meadows is a long way away and I’ve never driven at Chester. I’m familiar with Pocono,” Case said.
Case is the sixth leading driver of all time. In 1998 he won 1,076 races, a record until Tim Tetrick beat that in 2007.
“I feel good and I am happy with the way I am physically. I’m not sure anyone has ever come back after 10 years. If Michael Jordan sat out for 10 years you know he’s not going to come back and score 50 points the first night.
“All I really want is a chance,” Case said.
Case’s past violations shows approximately 750 such acts of disobedience since 1984. Compare that to the benchmark of class on the track, John Campbell, who has amassed just over 60 during the same period.
Case is a champion reinsman and he deserves what will likely be his last chance, but for now it’s merely a wait-and-see game.
( Courtesy Duane Ranger, Editor Harnesslink )