Few events on the English summer social circuit rival the annual Royal Ascot horse races, where betting to win plays well back in the field to the thrill of seeing and being seen. But instead of sipping champagne and hobnobbing with top-hatted British aristocracy, Ascot regular Gary Tanaka spent all of last month confined to his son’s New York apartment -- wearing an electronic anklet, his passport in the hands of the authorities -- as a condition of his bail.
In May, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service charged the 61-year-old Tanaka, owner of racehorses in the U.S. and Europe, with the theft of client assets from New Yorkbased fund manager Amerindo Investment Advisors, a firm Tanaka founded with Cuban-born socialite Alberto Vilar in 1980.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has also brought a joint civil action against the two men, stemming from the alleged misappropriation of $5 million from Lily Cates, mother of film actress Phoebe Cates. Other dubious transactions are also being investigated, according to Kay Lackey, the SEC’s assistant regional director in New York.
Although Tanaka, who is out on $11 million bail and awaiting his day in court, couldn’t make the Ascot event, his best-known horse, Rakti, ran on opening day. Rakti, the past victor of such prestigious contests as the Lockinge Stakes, was favored to win at the meet.
But on his way to post for the Queen Anne Stakes, Rakti was spooked by a spectator. The horse -- notorious for his skittishness -- raced to the start, wasting precious energy. (The Irish Times described Rakti as “bonkers.”) Valixir, owned by the Aga Khan, won the race.
Tanaka’s horse placed second.