The American veterinarian who was famous for his connections to the 1977 Lebon betting fraud has died aged 76 in Los Angeles.
Mark J. Gerard passed away from complications associated with a stroke he suffered while working at a local stable.
Mr Gerard was a high-flying veterinarian during the 1960’s and 1970’s and looked after the world famous Secretariat.
However, Mr Gerard is best known for his alleged involvement in a major betting scandal that ensued after he purchased two horses from Uraguay named Lebon and Cinzaro.
Lebon won his first American race start at 57-1 odds.
However, it was later discovered that this horse was in fact Cinzaro, who was the top three-year-old in Uraguay at the time.
Both horses were believed to have been killed after the betting scandal took place to dispose of all evidence.
Mr Gerard placed $US 1,800 on the ring-in to win the race, earning him prize money of more than $80,000.
He was later sentenced to a year in jail and fined $1,000 for his deemed involvement.
Mr Gerard’s sister, Joyce Aimee Titchnell, still believes her brother took no part in the fraudulent behaviour.
“Every time he had to put down a horse, you couldn’t talk to him for days,” Titchnell said.
“So I can’t see him doing anything to a horse.
“It’s just so foreign to anything he would have done.”
Ms Titchnell said that while she never discussed the events in detail with her brother, he always maintained his innocence.
“The only thing he would always say was he was not guilty,” she said.
“I have never figured it out. He was making a lot of money. He was at the top of his game. He had it all. It never made sense to anyone.
“My brother was considered the most important vet in the country.
“If anybody had a real problem with a horse, they would call (Mark) in.
“He could take care of horses like no one.
“It was a mystery that will probably never be solved.”