This week's feature story focuses on horse doping and fraud allegations at Calder Race Course, Florida's biggest and most lucrative track.
During our two-month investigation, we also got our hands on more than 600 pages of city and state police records. Horse tracks, of course, are colorful places by nature -- bizarre enough to inspire a recent HBO drama just about the characters there. Police records reveal no shortage of drama at 21001 NW 27th Avenue, from allegations of masked men ambushing people in the parking lot to a bizarre equestrian sex crime.
Keep reading for the 10 craziest incident at the track recorded in recent police reports.
10. "Tu tienes perico?"
On July 29, 2009, Miami Gardens police responded to a tip about a Hispanic male selling cocaine from the horse barns, or "backside," at Calder Race Course. An undercover cop approached the suspect and asked for coke in Spanish slang ("tu tienes perico?"). The dealer handed over a zip-lock bag full of yayo. He was arrested.
9. Delivery Service:
Another suspected drug dealer was arrested after getting stopped riding his bicycle around Calder. Miami Gardens police discovered 10 grams of pot and a digital scale on the man.
8. Family Fraud:
Back in 2009, Yvonne Mead left town to visit her daughter for a few weeks. She left several checks to utility companies and asked her son, Dennis, to mail them. Instead, Dennis crudely crossed out the companies' names and wrote in his own. Then he took them to Calder Race Course where employees cashed them for him, according to a Miami Gardens police report. New Times couldn't find any record of Meade being charged with a crime, however.
7. Counterfeit Cash:
In October of last year, Eduardo Cross plunked down two crisp $20 bills while gambling. But the bills were fake. When a Calder employee called him on it, he threw his remaining counterfeit cash on the ground and tried to flee, according to a police report. When interviewed by cops, Cross claimed he was approached by an unknown Jamaican who offered to give him fake bills to place bets in return for 10 percent of the winnings. Like Meade, however, Cross doesn't appear to have been charged with a crime.
6. Christmas Came Early:
Someone either won or lost big at Calder Casino on December 13 of last year. That's when a series of gunshots rang out in the afternoon. One bullet even shattered the window of Calder's recently opened poker club. No one was arrested.
5. Parking Lot Ambush:
On a December night in 2010, Norma Vargas was driving through the Calder parking lot towards the casino when a masked figure suddenly appeared in her headlights. The man pointed a handgun at her windshield, but Vargas swerved out of the way and didn't stop. No one was ever caught.
4. "Want me to take you out?"
Shortly after midnight on a Monday morning last October, a fight broke out at Calder. When police arrived, Vincent Howard told them he had been beaten by a group of males. One of them, Robin Sadiq Mohammed, had allegedly pointed a gun at Howard and said: "What you want to do motherfucker? Want me to take you out?"
Cops pulled Mohammed over and found a black handgun under the car seat. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, but the charge was later dropped.
3. Armed Robbery:
A year ago, Brinks security guard Alvaro Lopez Ramos was shot and killed during an armed robbery at Calder Casino. Police arrested five for the deadly theft, including a Calder employee and another Brinks guard. The robbers made off with $345,000, some of which they spent at Seminole Hard Rock Casino before being caught.
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2. Sad, Sad Suicide:
On January 21, 2010, police found a man dead inside Calder. He was slumped on the ground with a gunshot wound to his head. Next to his body were pictures of a woman and a young girl, likely his family, and a note "indicating sadness/depression," according to police. His death was ruled a suicide.
1. Horse Rape:
By far the strangest recent crime at Calder occurred nearly four years ago, on September 7, 2008. Horse trainer Laura Posada arrived at her barn on the backside of the track at 4:30 a.m., like usual. But she quickly noticed that things weren't right. The lights were on inside and a lawn chair was parked just outside one of the stalls. Inside the stall, Posada found a bloody Heineken bottle tossed inside the feed trough. The horse, a five-year-old filly named "Something More," had its head against the wall as if drugged.
When Posada lifted the horse's tail, she found its vagina "bloody and ripped." She called the cops and a veterinarian, who determined that the horse had been raped with the beer bottle. A Calder hot-walker (a stable-hand who exercises the horses) was suspected and interviewed over the bizarre act of bestiality, and DNA samples were sent to a lab. But no one was charged.