Police Confirm Iavarone Death Threat

Following a segment on ESPN during last week’s Breeders’ Cup in which IEAH Stable co-president Mike Iavarone revealed a death threat against him and his family prior to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), there have been widespread reports and internet comments casting doubt on Iavarone’s claim. That claim was confirmed Friday by the Nassau County Police Department.


Lt. Andrew Mulrain provided a detailed report to Bloodhorse.com on the death threat and the department’s actions.


“I’m the commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department’s special investigation squad,” Mulrain said. “Among our other responsibilities, we handle the gang unit and counter terrorism, and we also do protection, working with the State Department and the Secret Service.


“We had already been assigned to the Belmont Stakes, which is one of the largest events the Nassau County Police Department handles, particularly when there’s a Triple Crown at stake. We assign up to 200 to 300 police officers for traffic detail as well as security. So we were already going to be assigned to that detail.


“We deal with our intelligence people, so we knew there had been some chatter on the Internet, and we set up a free speech area for protesters, because there are always some animal rights activists that are concerned about events like this. Whenever the circus comes to town they protest, so we knew we were going to get some protesters.


“A couple of days before the Belmont, an unsigned letter with obviously no return address was received by the Tallahassee Police Department in Tallahassee, Fla., which they faxed to us. It was postmarked June 3, 2008 to the Tallahassee Police and marked urgent. Inside was a totally unsigned letter that said someone is going up to the Belmont Stakes and is going to kill the owner and trainer of Big Brown -- and Big Brown was underlined -- if the horse gets hurt or killed, indicating it was probably an animal rights activist. It ended by stating that no one is going to be safe there. The letter was forwarded to my detective squad. We had no way of validating the threat, but we already had a security detail in place, and because it was a specific threat against two specific individuals – the owner and the trainer – I re-deployed some of my detectives at this event, and we did in fact assign detectives to be in the area of the Iavarone family as well as the trainer of Big Brown.”


Because the letter was received by the Tallahassee Police Department, the actual investigation of the threat was handled by their department. According to Mulrain, in New York it was considered aggravated harassment, but because no one has stepped up to claim responsibility, he is unaware of the status of the investigation in Tallahassee. Their role was to assure the safety of everyone at Belmont Park that day, in particular the Iavarone family and Dutrow.


“I can verify that there was a death threat and we did assign detectives to them, shadowing them the better part of the day,” Mulrain said. “My understanding is that some people did attempt to contact one of the detectives assigned to the case, but he has since retired. He was an outstanding officer who was also assigned to our joint terrorism task force here. I think he was the only source they were trying to get to and they couldn’t get a response from him because he no longer worked for the force.”


Iavarone said he was incensed reading two blog reports casting doubt on his story.