Gambler sentenced over death threat

BOLTON, England -- A gambler who threatened to kill Breeders' Cup Turf winner Conduit unless the horse was withdrawn from a race last summer has been given a suspended jail sentence.

A court in England heard Monday that Andrew Rodgerson warned a racing stud manager not to run Conduit in a Group 1 race at Ascot last July after he forgot to place a bet on behalf of a syndicate.

Conduit went on to win the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 25, a score that would have led to the syndicate winning about $80,500. The 26-year-old Rodgerson sent threatening text messages and e-mails to Peter Reynolds, the manager of the Ballymacoll Stud Farm in Ireland.

Ten days before the race he texted Reynolds: "Dear Peter, we would just like to warn you should Conduit run in the King George then the horse will be killed."

Five days later he followed up with an e-mail which read: "Dear Peter, I don't believe you are taking the threat of death to Conduit very seriously. We want the horse removed from the King George this weekend. If you cooperate the horse will live. There are people living in and around Newmarket who are ready and willing. There will also be people around at Ascot on Saturday."

Rodgerson was arrested two days before Conduit won the race. He was sentenced to 34 weeks in jail, suspended for two years, after he pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening to commit damage.

After winning the King George race, the 4-year-old Conduit finished fourth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, won the BC Turf at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 7 and then ran fourth in the Japan Cup on Nov. 29.