May 9, 2002

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson will sell his sizable horse racing interests because some of his followers objected to his involvement in a sport driven by gambling.

Robertson, whose involvement in thoroughbred horse racing was first detailed by The New York Times in a story last month, said in a letter that he will sell his interests in the sport by November, when a nearly two-week sale of breeding stock is held in Keeneland, Ky.

``I am sorry that my fondness for the performance of equine athletes has caused you an offense,'' he wrote in a reply sent this week to followers who had written to say they disapproved of his involvement in horse racing.

In the letter, Robertson wrote that competition among horses has been part of every society that owned them, and that as a child, he used to race his horses against others ``over country roads or rolling pastures.''

``Very frankly, none of this brought any sense of embarrassment to me because I felt then, and feel now, there is nothing wrong with contests of skill, either between human athletes or equine athletes,'' he wrote.

However, he concluded, ``for your sake and the sake of others like you,'' he will dispose of all his horse racing interests by November.

``He wants to be above reproach, so he'll do whatever he has to do,'' said Angell Watts, spokeswoman for the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, Va.

She said Thursday the holdings were Robertson's personal investments and not affiliated with the network he founded. The value of the holdings was not immediately available, but include a 2-year-old colt purchased last year for $520,000, the Times reported. The horse was later named ``Mr. Pat'' after Robertson.

Robertson declined an interview with The Associated Press, but his personal assistant, G.G. Conklin, said Robertson's decision to divest himself of his racing stock was met with sadness by network employees who know that his interest in horses has been lifelong and passionate.

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