Day At The Track

Gorajec letter to RCI head asks tough questions

07:19 AM 12 Jul 2018 NZST
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Ed Martin, harness racing
Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International

The Paulickreport.com printed this following letter from Joe Gorajec who served as the executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for 25 years (1990-2015). He is also a former chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (2008).

To: Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI):

I read with great interest your testimony before Congress last month in the hearing regarding the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017. In your remarks, you defended our current system of medication regulation in the United States and stated there is “total uniformity in the use of progressive penalties and substantial uniformity in adoption of testing thresholds for 30 appropriate medications deemed normal and appropriate for equine care.”

You also stated, “horseracing does as good a job or as bad a job as the Olympics or any other sport.”

Given your faith in the effectiveness of our model and your standing as the president of RCI, I would like you to review the following series of cases in Pennsylvania. Please let me know if the actions taken (or not taken) in these cases constitute the high praise that you believe our regulatory system deserves.

I'll begin on Sept. 22, 2016, with a qualifying race at the Meadows harness track near Pittsburgh, Pa. Shawn Johnston trained a horse that day named Tremor Hanover. The Pennsylvania Equine Testing & Research Laboratory (PETRL) subsequently found that Tremor Hanover raced with impermissible levels of the drug betamethasone.

Betamethasone is a corticosteroid and is listed as a Class 4 therapeutic medication. The Association of Racing Commissioners International's (RCI) Controlled Therapeutic Substance List indicates that betamethasone is impermissible at levels in excess of 10 picograms per milliliter (pg/ml) of blood. In other words, over 10 pg/ml is a positive test.

The RCI's Penalty Guidelines indicate that the penalty for betamethasone (Class 4) overage for a first drug offense within a year is a minimum $1,000 fine and forfeiture of the purse.

Mr. Johnston waived his right to a split sample and accepted the standard penalty of a $1,000 fine. No purse forfeiture was necessary as qualifying races do not have purses.

On Aug. 30, 2016, approximately three weeks before Mr. Johnston's positive test, Rich Gillock trained a horse named Treasure Quest K that raced at Meadows. The PETRL subsequently found that Treasure Quest K raced with an impermissible level of betamethasone. The horse finished third. The purse was $9,500.

On Nov. 26, 2016, at the same Meadows track, Ron Burke trained a horse named Atta Boy Dan. The PETRL subsequently found that Atta Boy Dan raced with an impermissible level of betamethasone. The horse won. The purse was $20,000.

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