Last fall, when jockey Ben Feliciano completed his five-year suspension from all race tracks for taking part in a fixed race at Bowie in 1975, Pimlico General Manager Chick Lang said he hoped Feliciano would never be allowed on the track again.
When the Maryland Racing Commission allowed Feliciano, who also spent two years in jail on a race-fixing conviction, to work on the track as an exercise rider last fall, Lang publicly denounced the three commissioners who voted to allow his return.
Wednesday, after it became public that Lang had relented and allowed Feliciano to work at his track, Racing Commissioner J. Neil McCardell, one of the commissioners who voted to allow Feliciano back, was outside Lang's office, ready to praise him for the turnabout and also to poke a bit of fun.
McCardell said, "I respect Lang for changing his mind. It takes a good man to do that, especially since most of us in racing know that Feliciano has made an honest effort to straighten out his life. I just want to remind Lang that he mentioned names when he denounced the reinstatement of Feliciano and remind him of how we commissioners (McCardell, Frank Cucchia and Porter Hopkins) spell our names."
Lang said, "I'm not made of stone. I've known Benny and his wife for years. People I respect have spoken on his behalf and I simply changed my mind. The fact that my son is the agent for Benny's son had nothing to do with it. Anyone who knows me knows that I make up my own mind. In this case, I changed it."