Gordon Jones, horse racing reporter and handicapper for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, was arrested at an Arcadia hotel Saturday morning on suspicion of felony bookmaking.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. vice officers, who joined Arcadia police in arresting Jones, 49, and his 20-year-old daughter, Joanne, said the two had been accepting bets from students at a handicapping class they conducted at the Santa Anita Inn, across the street from the Santa Anita racetrack.
Jones--who currently is covering racing at Santa Anita--has advertised the fact that he has been hosting a daily "Pick 6 Club" in a banquet room he rents at the Santa Anita Inn.
Fellow sportswriters said in a Times article last month about gambling in racetrack press boxes that it was not uncommon for Jones to bet $5,000 a day at the track, with a good chunk of the money coming from student members of the club, who pay Jones $15 a head to share in his handicapping opinions and any wagering profits.
"We're saying that what he was doing at the handicapping school was bookmaking," Lt. Jerry Stern of the sheriff's vice bureau said.
Jones' daughter, Stern said, "was assisting her father."
Deputies said their monthlong investigation, initiated at the request of Arcadia police, included an "undercover operator" posing as a "student." As a result of the probe, arrest warrants were issued.
Investigators said that during the arrests, which occurred at about 11:45 a.m., officers confiscated $1,503 that Jones was holding in his hand, numerous records and "a lot" of envelopes filled with money.
Arraignment for Jones and his daughter on multiple bookmaking counts was set for March 12 at Santa Anita Municipal Court in Monrovia. The two were released at 3:45 p.m. Saturday on bail of $2,500 apiece.
As he walked from the police station to a waiting car, Jones told reporters he did not believe he had done anything wrong.
"I've been running a public handicap club for six years--here and at Hollywood Park," he said. "No one ever told us before that there was any wrongdoing. . . . I'm sorry it had to all blow up like this. It's something we have to work out, but it's simply a technicality."
Leslie Ward, Herald Examiner sports editor, said: "We are looking into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Gordon Jones on bookmaking charges. But until we've had a chance to investigate thoroughly, it would be premature to discuss the matter in detail.
"We are, however, certainly aware that Gordon has conducted handicapping seminars for horse racing fans for some years. But this is his personal business, which he operates completely outside the newspaper and has no connection with his duties as a sportswriter here."
Jones--who has a Ph.D. and formerly taught journalism at Arizona State University and USC--has long been an avid proponent of wagering on the sport that he covers for the Herald Examiner and has written about in several books.
"I choose to emphasize the betting aspect," Jones told a Times reporter last month.
"These are wonderful animals that make up the game, and there are a lot of interesting horsemen that participate, but without betting, there would be nobody at the track to watch them," Jones said. "And there is just as much competition among horseplayers as there is among the horses and the horsemen. . . .
"If it ever came down to a choice between covering racing and handicapping, I would prefer to do the handicapping."
Jane Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the racetrack, said Jones' club is one of several "handicapping schools" that operate in the Arcadia area, none of them in affiliation with the track.
Jones publishes an advertisement for his club in the Daily Racing Form, using the title, "Prof. Gordon Jones."
The ad promises that the "regular $15 admission includes continental breakfast at your own table, official program, special guest interviews, Prof. Jones' unique speed handicapping X-ray of all 9 races, plus latest money management guidelines!"
\o7 Contributing to this story were Times staff writers Edward J. Boyer and Bill Christine.