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Columbus, OH — According to a story on The Paulick Report, several of the defendants in a federal case focusing on drug misbranding and the doping of racehorses will be arraigned via teleconference later this week. The defendants scheduled to be arraigned include Jorge Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Gregory Skelton, Ross Cohen, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., Christopher Oakes, Jason Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley Jr., Alexander Chan, Henry Argueta, Nicholas Surick, Rebecca Linke, and Christopher Marino. The teleconference is scheduled for April 2 at 2:30 p.m. To read the full story, click here. The USTA Communications Department

The California Horse Racing Board conducted two separate meetings on Thursday, March 26, by teleconference. The public participated by dialing into the teleconference and/or listening through the audio webcast link on the CHRB website. Both meetings were chaired by Dr. Gregory Ferraro, joined for the first meeting by Vice Chair Oscar Gonzales and Commissioners Dennis Alfieri, Damascus Castellanos, Wendy Mitchell, and Alex Solis. Commissioner Mitchell did not participate in the second meeting. The audios of these two meetings are available on the CHRB Website (www.chrb.ca.gov) under the Webcast link. In brief, during the first, regular meeting: Chairman Ferraro opened the meeting by welcoming Commissioner Castellanos to his initial meeting as a member of the Board. Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Commissioner Castellanos on March 10. In two separate but related actions involving both emergency and permanent rules, the Board voted to re-establish the 48-hour restriction on the administration of medications or other substances to horses entered to race unless otherwise authorized by regulation. The change to the emergency regulation went into effect immediately, while the permanent rule was approved for 15-day public notice. The Board approved a regulatory amendment prohibiting the administration of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide to 2-year-olds. The amendment also reduces by half the level that can be administered to horses permitted to race with furosemide. The Board put over to the April 22 meeting further discussion of a regulatory amendment clarifying that racing veterinarians are under the direction of Official Veterinarians, allowing racing associations input, as requested by The Stronach Group. The Board approved for public notice an amendment to the rule governing penalties that makes veterinarians and other licensees who violate shock wave therapy regulations subject to the same penalties as trainers. The Board approved a regulatory amendment requiring individuals to hold an assistant trainer's license in good standing for one year as a qualification for a trainer's license. The Board approved a requirement for practicing veterinarians to use an electronic on-line form prescribed by the Board when submitting their required veterinarian reports to the Official Veterinarian. The Board approved a regulatory amendment requiring trainers to maintain treatment records of all medications they administer to horses in their care at facilities within the CHRB's jurisdiction. The Board authorized the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club to distribute $90,839 in race day charity proceeds to nine beneficiaries and another $13,744 to four beneficiaries. The Board designated the 2020 fair racing sessions in Pleasanton, Sacramento, Ferndale, and Fresno as a combined meet for pari-mutuel purposes. The Board approved an industry agreement.to use a designated portion of Advance Deposit Wagering revenue that would ordinarily go to horsemen's purses and racetrack commissions to be used to fund a California co-op marketing program. After the conclusion of the first, regular meeting, the Board reconvened the teleconference to hold a special meeting to address a single agenda item. The Board approved a change to the license application of Watch & Wager LLC, allowing harness racing at Cal Expo to switch race days from Fridays and Saturdays to Tuesdays and Wednesdays.   Reprinted with permission of The Paulick Report

Perhaps the biggest scandal in all of U.S. sports to come out in the past year is the federal indictment of dozens of thoroughbred and harness racing insiders alleged to have been involved in doping leading racehorses. And while the initial indictments came on March 9, other indictments trickled out even as the COVID-19 disaster overtook virtually the entire news cycle. But the stunning allegations are no less stunning because of the timing. The main indictment had as its stars Monmouth Park thoroughbred big names Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis — but later ones placed Yonkers Raceway and its harness racing leading lights in its target. The Yonkers horse racing community already was reeling from the deaths of three trainers from COVID-19, including the first fatality of a New Jersey resident. Rene Allard, who at $5.8 million in purse winnings was third in the industry in North America last year, has been charged in a conspiracy involving longtime veterinarian Louis Grasso, who was indicted on Feb. 26 for allegedly misbranding drugs in interstate commerce. Last fall, according to the indictment, Grasso and another alleged co-conspirator, Ross Cohen, discussed the fact that a number of Allard’s horses had died. The disturbing conversation Cohen, according to the indictment, asked Grasso, “What’s going on with the Allard death camp?” Grasso then said “two or maybe three” horses have died from “amino acids” that caused “high fever, kidneys shut down.” “One of them just died on the table, they just cut him open and poof it died,” Grasso is alleged to have said. Cohen: “Holy f-ck f-ck did they do an autopsy.” Grasso: “Their heart rate was like triple they were breathing real heavy their membranes were going f-cking purple.” Allard — second in earnings at Yonkers so far this year — also is alleged to have sent a text message to Grasso in October 2019 that read: “I will need 3 bottles of red Acid [an anti-inflammatory drug] to go to canada Thursday.” Per the indictment, a barn raid on March 9 in Middletown, N.Y. — where Allard stabled a number of horses — led to the discovery of multiple syringes and numerous bottles of mislabeled drugs. Other harness racing figures indicted Also named is Donato Poliseno, owner of a veterinary supply business in Delaware who is alleged to have purchased and distributed PEDs from Grasso. Trainers Thomas Guido III and Conor Flynn are alleged to have obtained the PEDs from Grasso as well. Richard Banca, the leading trainer at Yonkers Raceway so far this year, was named in a separate indictment on similar charges and employed Flynn. Banca owns the Middletown, N.Y. facility that was raided, according to his indictment. “Flynn has stated, in substance and in part, that Flynn administers horses owned, trained, or otherwise under Banca’ s control, with PEDs at Banca’s direction,” the indictment alleges. Banca first rose up to the top ranks at Yonkers in 2015, producing 174 winners — more than double his previous best — and another 200 in 2016. Allard and Banca were the two trainers involved in a controversy at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 2017, when each — already banned at that track by owner Jeff Gural — turned over the reins of horses that were then allowed to race. Among the PEDs involved aside from “red acid”: Erythropoietin, better known by brand name Epogen and nicknamed “epo” in the industry and designed to improve endurance A variety of “pain shots” or “joint blocks” designed to deaden a horse’s nerves, which can result in leg fractures that require a racehorse to be euthanized Bronchodilators, or “Bronk,” designed to increase a horse’s oxygen intake The latest indictments, if proven, echo the callousness for the welfare of racehorses demonstrated in the Navarro and Servis indictments. In February 2019, Servis is alleged to have warned Navarro via text about a racing official. Navarro then allegedly told another conspirator, “He would have caught our asses f-cking pumping and pumping and fuming every f-cking horse that runs today.” By John Brennan John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record. Reprinted with permission of The njonlinegambling.com

SCHENECTADY – As they face federal charges for doping racehorses, five thoroughbred trainers and a harness racing owner will continue to be barred from racing in New York, the state Gaming Commission ruled. At a Wednesday morning hearing, gaming officer Michael Hoblock, who was appearing via video-conferencing, decided that the suspension of state racing licenses for trainers Henry Argueta, Christopher Marino, Christopher Oakes, Nicholas Surick, Michael Tannuzzo and horse owner Scott Mangini, will remain in place. Another six who were also indicted on federal charges for conspiring to mislabel and smuggle performance enhancement drugs into their barns, including famed trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, did not appear. Their hearing with the commission was previously adjourned and will be reconsidered after their criminal cases work their way through the courts. The 12 are among 27 trainers, veterinarians, riders and owners nationwide who had their licenses suspended on March 9 when the indictment was unsealed. At that time, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman alleged they had "designed to secretly and dangerously enhance the racing performance of horses beyond their natural ability, a dishonest practice that places the lives of affected animals at risk.” The only defendant to appear at the hearing was assistant trainer Henry Argueta. He was not accompanied by a lawyer and had some difficulty understanding the proceeding as his English is limited. However, he did understand that his license is temporarily suspended. He is listed in the Servis indictment for misbranding conspiracy and faces up to five years in prison. Servis was allegedly involved in a scheme to obtain an illegally manufactured drug called SGF-1000. The drug is designed to increase a horse's stamina and endurance. According to the indictment, Servis gave the drug to "virtually all" of the horses he trained. The indictment also alleges that the two trainers heavily doped two of their most successful horses, Maximum Security and XY Jet. Maximum Security, trained by Servis, won the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference. On Feb. 29 of this year, the horse won the world's richest race, the $10 million Saudi Cup. XY Jet, trained by Navarro, won more than $3 million in 26 starts before dying of a heart attack on Jan. 8. Navarro allegedly administered 50 injections of a performance-enhancing drug into XY Jet's mouth, according to the indictment. The indictment is the result of a two-year probe, Berman said. “These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money,” Berman said when he unsealed the indictment in March. “And it was the racehorses that paid the price for the defendants’ greed.  The care and respect due to the animals competing, as well as the integrity of racing, are matters of deep concern to the people of this District and to this Office.” If the 12 are convicted, the gaming commission will consider revoking their racing licenses permanently. Alleged doping dozen in New York State Henry A. Argueta, assistant thoroughbred trainer and exercise rider Alexander Chan, veterinarian Rick A. Dane, Jr., harness trainer  Conor J. Flynn, harness groom Scott Mangini, harness owner    Chris W. Marino, harness trainer Jorge I. Navarro, thoroughbred  Christopher W. Oakes, harness trainer  Kristian S. Rhein, veterinarian  Jason Servis, thoroughbred trainer  Nicholas K. Surick, harness trainer   Michael E. Tannuzzo, thoroughbred trainer licensed  The indictment coincides with efforts in Congress to pass the Horseracing Integrity Act, co-sponsored in the House by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam) and led in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), which would hand oversight of administering drugs to racehorses to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the governing body that runs the U.S. Olympic anti-doping efforts. The act would eliminate the current patchwork of state-by-state rules and align the nation's tracks with much of the rest of the world.  New York Racing Association, which manages the Saratoga Race Course as well as Aqueduct Racetrack and Belmont Park, supports the measure. By Wendy Liberatore Reprinted with permission of The Times Union  

Harness racing trainer Richard Banca has become the 28th person identified in the horse doping scandal that yielded indictments against some of the biggest names in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. Banca’s name was not among those listed when indictments were announced Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He was arrested Monday and released after posting a $200,000 personal recognizance bond. That another name has surfaced fuels speculation that the investigation launched by the FBI and the Department of Justice will yield more names, perhaps many more. The court documents regarding Banca include a deposition from FBI agent Bruce Turpin, who links Banca to Louis Grasso and Conor Flynn, who were among the 27 indicted Monday. Like the others, Banca is being charged with “misbranding” drugs. Turpin testified that Banca’s property in Middletown, NY was searched Mar. 9 and that the FBI found a number of illegal substances and handwritten notes with instructions on how to administer those drugs. Turpin lays out a scenario where Flynn, Grasso and Banca worked together to illegally administer drugs to horses and says that Flynn was Banca’s assistant. “I have learned that Grasso has, on multiple occasions, supplied Flynn with adulterated and misbranded performance-enhancing drugs for Flynn to administer–or deliver to others to administer–to racehorses,” Turpin testified. In further testimony, Turpin reports: “Based on my discussions with an agent who has spoken with a confidential source, I have learned that Flynn has stated, in substance and in part, that Flynn administers horses owned, trained, or otherwise under Banca’s control, with PEDs at Banca’s direction. In 2011, Banca was sanctioned by the New York Racing and Wagering Board for Oxymetazoline violations and given a 90-day suspension and a $1,000 fine. Banca, 34, has won 1,695 races, including 42 this year. After never having more than 82 winners in a year, his win total shot up to 174 in 2015 and he won 200 races in 2016. The horses he had entered Monday night at Yonkers were scratched. By Bill Finley Reprinted with permission of The Thoroughbred Daily News

A Victorian harness racing trainer-driver has been disqualified for six years, after admitting to injecting a horse with potassium so stewards wouldn't find out it had been fixed for a race. Scott Dyer has also admitted to acting corruptly by being aware that another trainer had fixed horses by 'drenching' them. Drenching involves putting a tube down a horse's throat to put substances into them that give them an unfair advantage on the track. Dyer pleaded guilty to five breaches of Australian Harness Racing Rules over the incidents in December 2014, at a hearing of the Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in May. It disqualified him from training and driving for seven years and 34 days, but he asked the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review the decision. The breaches came to light when police intercepted calls made by another registered trainer, Larry Eastman, between October and December 2014. The calls revealed that on December 8, after the horse Waterslide had won a race at Charlton and stewards called for a post-race blood sample, Dyer injected the animal with potassium to hide the substances that had been put into it earlier to give it a racing edge. He also drove the horse Sukovia in Horsham on December 15, after discussing with Eastman that another horse, Dynamic Dick, would be stomach tubed. Before another race in Swan Hill on December 2, Dyer was also aware through Eastman that the horse Cashisking would receive the same treatment. Eastman went on to plead guilty to five criminal offences, including using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes and engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event. He was convicted and fined $20,000. In reviewing Dyer's case, VCAT member Reynah Tang decided a disqualification of 10 years and four months would fit the bill. But he discounted the penalty to six years when considering Dyer's guilty plea and the delay in his case coming before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board. He also considered the potential impact of the disqualification of his depression, which a psychiatrist confirmed he had been dealing with since 2013. There was also a lack of evidence that Dyer had benefited financially from the offending and he remained on the Newstart Allowance, Mr Tang said. By Marnie Banger   Australian Associated Press       VIC - VCAT Decision - Scott Dyer 15 November 2019   On 14 November 2019, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) released its decision in relation to an application for review lodged by former licensed person Scott Dyer regarding a decision of the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 22 May 2019. Background On 22 May 2019, Mr Dyer pleaded guilty at a HRV RAD Board hearing to five charges that related to a Victoria Police investigation that lead to criminal charges being issued against licensed trainer Larry Eastman. The HRV RAD Board determined charges regarding Mr Dyer interfering with a post-race blood sample; failing to drive a horse on its merits; possession of a syringe containing the substance potassium on a racecourse; and corrupt or improper conduct in relation to information he had about the prerace stomach-tubing of ‘Cashisking’ on 2 December 2014 and ‘Dynamite Dick’ on 15 December 2014. Mr Dyer was disqualified for a period of 8 years. The HRV RAD Board media release can be found here. VCAT Hearing On 8 October 2019, VCAT Member Tang heard submissions from Allan McMonnies for Mr Dyer and Adrian Anderson for HRV. In the VCAT Decision, dated 14 November 2019, Member Tang set aside the penalty decision of the HRV RAD Board, and in its place substituted a total effective disqualification of six years. Mr Dyer will be disqualified until 25 June 2024. The full VCAT decision can be viewed here. Harness Racing Victoria

Some of Queensland's leading veterinarians and scientists have stepped up their campaign to get Australian racing regulators to implement an immediate moratorium on prosecutions for alleged misuse of cobalt. The move follows the nine-month suspension handed to veteran Toowoomba trainer Harry Richardson on cobalt charges last week. In Queensland alone there are nearly 30 cobalt cases across the three racing codes which remain unresolved. The six member group recently wrote a letter to the Australian Racing Board, Australian Harness Racing Board and Australian Greyhound Board, in which they set out their concerns. The letter said: The current test method employed to detect cobalt salts in urine was inappropriate and prone to "false positives" due to Vitamin B12 and urine concentration effects and could therefore result in convictions of innocent parties. It was clear that some trainers had incurred "positives" from cobalt exposure in feed and environment outside of their knowledge or control. The experts questioned the use of population studies on race day samples from horses with unknown exposure in feed supplements and the environment, to set a "threshold". They believed there was confusion and misinformation regarding both the potency and potential toxicity of cobalt salts. The group requested regulators provide financial and administrative support to a multi-disciplinary Committee of Inquiry to find a consensus approach to future regulation of cobalt use in racing animals. One of the members of the group, David Dawson, said the signatories to the letter emphasised they endorsed the efforts of regulators to identify and punish those who sought to gain an advantage by unfair means - which included use of performance-enhancing substances. Dawson, the former chief scientist of Queensland Department of Health Pathology services, said the governing bodies had an obligation to the industry to act. "It is a problem which is deeply impacting on the industry and deserves immediate action," he said. Reprinted with permission of nine.com.au 

A deadly venom found in sea snails which can paralyse fish within a second has emerged as the latest chemical suspected to have infiltrated horse racing, with authorities scrambling to organise testing for the powerful painkiller. Racing NSW and Racing Victoria integrity officials on Monday confirmed they had started screening for the mystery drug, which has subtypes known to be infinitely stronger than morphine. It can also be extracted to be used for therapeutic purposes on humans in the form of the conotoxin-based Prialt. Racing stewards have received intelligence that a form of sea snail venom has been imported into Australia and used to manage pain in horses suspected to have raced in both the thoroughbred and harness codes. It is unclear in which state the latest fad is said to have emerged, but the Herald understands multiple racing authorities have been tipped off about its use and developed laboratory testing to weed out those who have dabbled in the product. The substance is not entirely new to the industry and was understood to have been in use more than decade ago, but until recently had not again been on the radar of racing officials. It's understood to dissolve from a horse's system very quickly and can help numb any pain before heading to the racetrack. Sea snails are generally found in the bottom of the ocean in tropical climates. Racing NSW said it had the ability to retrospectively test stored samples for the substance. It hasn't yet confirmed any positive swabs stemming from the chemical. "When we get information we act on it and we have a screen for this drug now," Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys. "At the moment it is not a part of the normal screening process, but we have the ability to target it and test for it." RV executive general manager of integrity Jamie Stier confirmed his organisation had begun testing for the drug as part of its normal screening process. Australian scientists from several universities have previously been working on developing new pain relief drugs using the chemicals from sea snail venom, which can be administered when morphine is no longer sufficient. It has traditionally been hazardous to use on humans given the bad side effects it can induce, including hallucinations, memory loss and confusion. But it is seen as a future alternative for pain relief given it is thought to be less addictive than opioid-based painkillers. Researchers are hoping with more funding for trials conotoxins could be in clinical use within 10 years. Venomous sea snails have been known to kill the nervous system of fish almost instantly before they eat their prey. The suspected infiltration of the chemical into horse racing is the latest scourge for the industry, which earlier this year was rocked by the ban to Australia's most prolific thoroughbred trainer Darren Weir for possession of electrical shock devices. Victorian-based Weir was rubbed out for four years and is still the subject of an ongoing police investigation. Racing NSW stewards are also investigating the finding of human growth hormone (EPO) in a fridge at the property of Kembla Grange trainer Mick Tubman. He has been stood down from training. NSW Police have also charged a nurse from Wollongong Hospital with the alleged theft of EPO from the hospital. By Adam Pengilly and Chris Roots Reprinted with permission of the Sydney Morning Herald   SEA SNAIL VENOM - Sea snail venom contains hundreds of peptides known as conotoxins, which are used to cause paralysis or death. The chemical allows the venomous snails, who are carnivorous, to prey on animals as large as fish. - When used in humans, the chemical produces an analgesic effect by stopping the transmission of nerve signals. - Only one conotoxin-based painkiller, Prialt, is currently on the market, and can only be injected into the spinal cord. The drug also has multiple side effects such as hallucinations, memory loss and confusion, limiting its use. - Multiple groups of Australian scientists are currently working on a safe, oral version of the drug for humans, with recent breakthroughs set to reduce the nation’s reliance on addictive painkillers. - In 2010, Australian scientists injected venom from the cone snail to a group of laboratory rats which resulted in a reduction in pain "100 to 500" times more effective than commonly used pain relievers such as morphine or gabapentin. Lead researcher of the study David Craik says one of the biggest advantages is that the drug uses "different receptors" in the brain in comparison to highly-addictive opioids such as morphine. Sarah Keoghan

Bagdad harness racing trainer Paul Williams has been fined $3000 over a positive swab returned by his horse Chasing Cheetahs at Devonport three months ago. A urine sample taken from Chasing Cheetahs, who finished fourth in the C2/C3 Pace on March 8, contained arsenic levels above the allowable threshold. Williams pleaded guilty to presenting the horse to race when not free of all prohibited substances. Stewards suspended half the fine on condition the trainer does not offend again in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, an unnamed harness racing participant has been fined $1500 over an incident at the Mowbray race meeting on May 3. The participant pleaded guilty to "acting in a manner detrimental to the industry" by deliberately causing damage to another participant's vehicle. Half the fine was suspended on condition there is no further offending in the next 12 months. Stewards refused to name the person involved as they said the incident was related to a on-going court case. Harness racing returns to Devonport on Friday night with two heats of the Raider Stakes and a prelude to the Granny Smith Stakes. Greg Mansfield Reprinted with permission of The Advocate

In response to questions received from the industry, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) wishes to clarify that routine diagnostic veterinary examinations of race horses are allowed within the 24-hour period prior to racing provided no medications, drugs or substances are administered. Info Bulletin No. 70 – Ban on Race Day Medication: Introduction of a Standards-Based Rule March 29, 2019 The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is implementing a ban on race day medications as of April 19, 2019 that will prohibit the administration of medications, drugs and substances to any horse entered to race starting 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  For Standardbred horses, this includes Qualifying Races. This standards-based rule is critical to protecting horses, participants, the betting public and the integrity of racing as a whole. The rule changes, which include prohibiting contact between horses entered to race and veterinarians in the 24 hours prior to racing, except in cases of emergency, can be found in the Directives: Standardbred | Thoroughbred POLICY STATEMENT It is in the best interest of the horse, the human participants, the betting public and the public at large that horses race free of medications (other than Furosemide when properly enrolled in the Ontario Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (E.I.P.H.) Program). THE ISSUE Medications administered within 24 hours of a race have resulted in adverse health outcomes of race horses.  Medications administered on race day have the potential to mask physical or behavioural problems in a horse and/or to alter the performance of a horse. These administrations can pose a risk to the health of the horse and participants while warming up or racing. The betting public and the public at large are unaware of the specifics of these administrations.  This standards-based rule aligns Ontario more closely with other major racing jurisdictions in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.  For example, in the United States, 28 out of the 33 states with pari-mutuel betting have implemented a ban on race day medications.   IMPLICATIONS The new standards-based rule will enhance the health and safety of the horse, the safety of the participants during the warming up of the horse and in the actual running of the race. The standards-based rule defines the timeframe of the ban as being 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  This rule is not intended to prohibit normal non-medicated feedstuffs, water and non-medicated shampoos and non-medicated topical applications.  IMPLEMENTATION The AGCO will implement the standards-based rule through the following communications with the horse racing industry:    An educational component, consisting of Industry Notice Reminders and Information Bulletins; Paddock meetings; and/or Training sessions for trainers and grooms at each track, led by AGCO Race Officials and Commission Veterinarians. Race Line newsletter articles Twitter posts Website updates For more information, on-duty Race Officials may be contacted at: https://www.agco.ca/race-day-contact-list Questions about this process may be directed to AGCO Race Officials. CONTACT US Online: Anytime via the iAGCO online portal By mail and in person: Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario 90 Sheppard Avenue East Suite 200-300 Toronto, Ontario M2N 0A4 By telephone: Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) General telephone: 416-326-8700 Toll free in Ontario: 1-800-522-2876  

With the Kentucky Derby coming up this weekend, horse racing is making its annual pilgrimage to the front page, as millions of people place bets and make plans for the big day. The excitement, the grandeur, and the tradition of one of America’s oldest sports captivate many into watching the buildup to what is essentially a two-minute race.  But the excitement doesn’t come without controversy. Horse racing still has a ways to go in terms of improving its reputation of drugging horses. In states without bans, horses are often drugged right before the race, which can increase the chances of animals getting hurt. Injuries often lead to horses being euthanized.  Thoroughbred horse racing is the biggest offender. Known for their speed, Thoroughbred horses run in the Kentucky Derby, as well as other well-known races. The Thoroughbred industry has been mired with controversy due to the use of Lasix, a drug that helps horses avoid nosebleeds caused by hemorrhaging during intense physical activity, allowing them to run faster for longer. But after 23 horses broke down and were euthanized over the course of three months at Santa Anita Park in California, all high-stakes Thoroughbred races agreed to phase out Lasix by 2021.  Standardbred horse racing, or harness racing, is less lucrative than Thoroughbred racing, but still draws a crowd at places such as The Meadows race track in Washington County, as well as other race tracks in Pennsylvania. This type of racing requires the horse trot instead of full-out run, all while pulling a small cart with a driver. Standardbred is not without doping, but the offenses aren’t as numerous compared to Thoroughbred racing. A bill in the U.S. House hopes to change some of that culture, but it has so far failed to get the support of most of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation and the state’s biggest race organization, Penn National Gaming, which owns race tracks and casinos across the country and in Pennsylvania, including The Meadows and Penn National Race Course. Advocates of the bill say the support of Pennsylvania is crucial to make into law, but will it gain enough support in the Keystone State?  Pennsylvania isn’t usually considered a major horse racing hub like Kentucky or New York, but Marty Irby of Washington, D.C.-based Animal Wellness Action says Pennsylvania is in the top 10 of horse racing states. There are six racing tracks in the commonwealth that hold Thoroughbred and Standardbred races, and some with some sizable purses. Irby says Pennsylvania isn’t the worst offender when it comes to animal welfare issues, like drugging horses on race day, but it’s not a shining example either.  “Pennsylvania isn’t the worst, but it is really at the bottom at the barrel,” says Kirby. “You don’t have a presence there that seems to be willing to crack down on the abuses.” According to horse racing news site Paulick Report, Pennsylvania hasn’t integrated the Association of Racing Commissioners International penalty system, which calls for long suspensions and harsh fines of up to $50,000 for repeat drug offenses. Instead, Pennsylvania offenders typically just have races disqualified and sometimes fines as low as $500.  Irby says problems in Pennsylvania are common in other states. With 38 different racing consortiums in the U.S., it is hard to get commissioners to agree on standard rules for drug testing. That’s why Irby is advocating for the Horseracing Integrity Act, a bill in Congress to create national rules pertaining to the horse racing industry, including standardized drug testing and creating a ban on race-day drugging.  The co-authors of the act are U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-New York) and Andy Barr (R-Kentucky), and both represent districts with a large horse racing presence. The bill so far has gathered 50 co-sponsors, with only two from Pennsylvania, U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) and Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery). Race organizations like the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes are backing the bill, too.  Irby says for the bill to have a chance, more members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation and Penn National Gaming need to lend support. Irby says since support for animal welfare is popular among Pennsylvania politicians, he expects more representatives to co-sponsor the bill.  U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills), Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters) all have records of supporting animal rights bills, but have yet to co-sponsor the Horseracing Integrity Act. A request for comment to Penn National Gaming was not returned.  In the end, Irby believes the bill isn’t just about the health of race horses. He thinks the bill will give confidence to horse racing fans that the sport is clean, and thus could boost its viewership.  “This is not a heavy lift for anyone at any track in America to support." By Ryan Deto Reprinted with permission of the pghcitypaper

The 2018 Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Program conducted by US racing regulatory bodies found continued substantial compliance with racing’s medication and anti-doping rules and little support for claims that the use of drugs to mask pain when horses race is rampant. As it does each year the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) released a summary of the collective results of the individual state programs conducted in 2018. In 2018 horses competing in 95,618 individual races were tested, 43,574 flat races (quarter horse and thoroughbred combined) and 52,044 standardbred races. This represents a reduction from the previous year when horses from 98,883 races were tested. On average 3.2 horses were tested in each flat race and 2.26 horses tested in each standardbred contest. In 2018, there were 1,561 violations of the medication rules out of 258,920 samples tested, meaning that 99.4% of all tests found the horse to be compliant with the rules. It also means that the facts do not support claims that a substantial number of horses are racing under the influence of pain masking medications as all testing labs routinely screen for the presence of such drugs. Such instances do occasionally occur and are reflected in the violations that are found and prosecuted. The ARCI has described violations involving Class 1 or Class 2 substances as instances of “doping”. Violations involving substances of a lesser class often involve overages of medications deemed therapeutic or authorized by US federal law for veterinary use. There was a dramatic drop in doping instances from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, 11% of all violations found were for Class 1 or 2 substances. In 2018, that number dropped to 6.8% of all violations. In 2018, there were 107 findings out of 258,920 samples tested for these substances deemed to have the greatest effect on performance, or 0.04% of all samples tested. In 2017, there were 169 findings out of 293,704 samples, or 0.06% of those tested. Violations involving Class 3 substances were 26.2% of all adverse analytical findings in 2018, a slight increase over the 24.5% detected in 2017. There were 409 Class 3 AAF’s in 2018 - 0.16% of all tested - compared to 376 in 2017 - 0.13% tested. Violations involving substances deemed least likely to affect performance - Class 4 and 5 substances - accounted for 66.9% of the adverse analytical findings in 2018, slightly up from the 64.5% of AAF’s in 2017. Clear Rate: In 2018, 99.4% of all samples tested were determined to be clear of any substance that would trigger an adverse analytical finding (AAF). In 2017, the clear rate for all US horse racing was 99.5%. For Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races, the clear rate in 2018 was 99.13% and the rate for Standardbred races that year was 99.71%. By comparison, the 2017 Annual Report of the US Anti Doping Agency indicates that their clear rate for human sport was 99.12% for Olympic, Paralympic and Global Service Testing. The 2019 World Anti-Doping Agency’s Testing Report shows that their “clear rate” is 98.57%. “Horse racing and human sport share the same challenges in combatting those who cheat. While the overall clear rate is comparable, I do not believe anyone is under the illusion in either human sport or horse racing that we are catching everyone who will attempt to cheat,” said Ed Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International. “Industry investments in anti-doping research and a greater emphasis on expanded investigatory staff at the regulatory agencies and racetracks is essential if we are to effectively combat this threat,” he said. Rebecca Shoemaker Assistant to the President & CEO Association of Racing Commissioners International

Exercise-induced Pulmonary Hemorrage (EIPH) has been a recognized condition in horses since the early 18 century. While the amount of bleeding in horses varies, it is universally recognized that the vast majority of horses in training and racing do indeed bleed. The advent of the flexible endoscope confirmed in studies that in thoroughbreds the stress put upon them, proved that up to 75 per cent of them bleed in training and more so in racing. Other studies done on standardbred and thoroughbreds, after running three races, showed that 100 per cent of these horses bled at least once, evidenced by blood in the trachea. The cause of the bleeding is the amount of pressure experienced that racing puts on the pulmonary veins, four times the normal pressure. The pressure causes fibrosis and in turn Pulmonary fibrosis scars and thickens the tissue around and between the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, which decreases the lungs ability to function and decreases the racing life of the horse. I have attended multiple-day seminars with experts from all over the globe on the topic of the race day administration of Lasix. In North America, Lasix is the most popular medication for treating EIPH because studies have shown that it is the most effective treatment in decreasing the amount of bleeding and therefore the scarring and thickening of the tissue around the lungs. In many of the English speaking countries around the world conducting racing, where race day use of Lasix is prohibited, it is nonetheless permitted up to race day because it is acknowledged to have the desired therapeutic effects in controlling EIPH. One has to ask if it is recognized as necessary in training because of its control of this problem, when the stress is not as severe as when a horse competes in a race, then what is the rationale for withholding it on race day, where four times the normal pressure in the racing environment exists? It has been said that when our horses, mainly thoroughbreds, go overseas they compete quite well without Lasix. That is indeed true, perhaps because they have a least had the benefit of controlling pulmonary hemorrhage long enough to achieve success over their foreign competitors. Overseas competition is against horses that are using something far less efficacious than Lasix, or worse nothing at all, to address the long term effects occasioned by the increased stress in racing. Those who want to join the community of Lasix-free racing point to the alleged masking of other substances, but the controlled administration of the substance; the hourly limitation on its use pre-race( 4-4 1/2 hours); the testing for threshold overages of the substance, has put that argument to bed. Now the newest mantra for the elimination of race-day Lasix, is the horrible, horrible loss of life at Santa Anita Racetrack. The false claim being, that while the rest of North America continues to help the horse racing on Lasix, without nay correlation to catastrophes, Lasix is being inexplicably blamed as the proximate cause of those catastrophes. The problem, is the potential for the elimination of a recognized effective tool in controlling and minimizing, EIPH that helps the horse cope with the effects of stress. Santa Anita should be shut down immediately until the true causes of these catastrophes can be accurately determined and corrected. The factors point initially to the track’s surface and under-footing, but the more precise answer must be determined by analyzing all of the multiple possible factors, Lasix, being clearly not the culprit. Without closing down Santa Anita immediately, the industry, thoroughbred and standardbred alike, comes under tremendous pressure from all those looking to eliminate the industry anyway. Santa Anita is providing fuel to a fire that threatens the game, by racing more in the face of its undetermined cause of these catastrophic breakdowns. Allowing continued suffering at Santa Anita is intolerable and unacceptable and should not continue. Enough is enough and if one is looking to blame Lasix, it is suggested that one look elsewhere. Every industry organization needs to be heard on any and every false narrative out there. No benefit can be achieved by being silent on issues that threaten our existence. Joe Faraldo

HARNESS Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards conducted an inquiry on Monday February 4, 2019, in relation to a report from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that cocaine was detected in the urine sample taken from MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ following its win in Race 5, the NAVAL ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA PACE (2125m) at Penrith on Thursday October 18, 2018. The ‘B’ sample was confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Licensed trainer Mr Richard Baverstock and stablehand Mr Adam Baverstock appeared at the inquiry. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis were presented and HRNSW Regulatory Veterinarian Dr Martin Wainscott also presented evidence to the inquiry. HRNSW Stewards issued the following charge against Mr Richard Baverstock pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190 (1), (2), (3) & (4) as follows: AHRR 190.  (1)  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. (2)  If a horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1) the trainer of the horse is guilty of an offence. (3)  If a person is left in charge of a horse and the horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1), the trainer of the horse and the person left in charge is each guilty of an offence. (4)  An offence under sub rule (2) or sub rule (3) is committed regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse. Mr Richard Baverstock was found guilty and disqualified for a period of two years and six months commencing from December 21, 2018, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Richard Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; Class 1 Prohibited Substance; The seriousness of the offence; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Richard Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Richard Baverstock’s not guilty plea. Acting under the provisions of AHRR 195, MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Mr Richard Baverstock was advised of his right to appeal. HRNSW Stewards issued a charge against Mr Adam Baverstock pursuant to AHRR 190(1), (3) & (4) in relation to the results of the urine sample obtained from MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ. Mr Adam Baverstock was found guilty and disqualified for three years nine months to commence from January 22, 2019, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering that penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Adam Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; Class 1 Prohibited Substance; The seriousness of the offence; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Adam Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Adam Baverstock’s not guilty plea. In addition, HRNSW Stewards issued a charge against Mr Adam Baverstock pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 250A(1)(a) as follows: 250A.  (1)  A person carrying on or purporting to carry on an activity regulated by licence at any time or carrying on official duties at a meeting commits an offence if: (a)  a sample taken from him or her is found upon analysis to contain a substance banned by Rule 251A. That charge related to a urine sample taken from Mr Adam Baverstock on Monday December 17, 2018. A report from Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) certified the presence of the cocaine metabolites Ecgonine Methylester and Benzoylecgonine. The ‘B’ sample was confirmed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia. In relation to that charge, Mr Adam Baverstock was suspended for a period of six months to commence from January 22, 2019, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering that penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Adam Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; The seriousness of the offence; The prohibited substances involved; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Adam Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Adam Baverstock’s not guilty plea. The Stewards ordered that the penalties imposed upon Mr Adam Baverstock are to be served concurrently. Mr Adam Baverstock was advised of his right to appeal.     Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. HRNSW INTEGRITY CONTACTS: MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  mprentice@hrnsw.com.au GRANT ADAMS | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •  gadams@hrnsw.com.au

Betting anomalies have been identified and police say more arrests are possible as the probe into alleged corruption in New Zealand harness racing widens to the Auckland region. Thirteen harness racing figures have so far appeared in court after being caught up in the 18-month Operation Inca race-fixing investigation by the National Organised Crime Group. Many of the racing identities cannot be named for legal reasons and have denied match-fixing and other charges. They are awaiting a High Court hearing in February for name suppression to be argued. The charges came after raids on multiple stables and properties in Canterbury, Invercargill and Manawatu in September. Today, police revealed investigators from the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) and detectives from the National Organised Crime Group have this week conducted further enquiries in the Auckland region. "A number of people have been interviewed as part of this week's enquiries, and betting anomalies have been identified in at least one race in May 2018," a police statement said. "The RIU is considering charges relating to the breach of rules around driver betting in relation to these anomalies. "Further arrests and charges by police are also possible." Christchurch District Court heard on Wednesday that a male driver in his 50s has been charged with conspiring with another person to manipulate a race result earlier this year by "administering a substance" to a horse before the race "in order to gain a pecuniary advantage, namely the winning stakes". Defence lawyer Phil Shamy said the man denied the charge and would elect trial by jury. Judge Raoul Neave granted him interim name suppression which will be reviewed when he comes back to court – along with others charged over Operation Inca – on March 25 next year. North Canterbury trainer Andrew Douglas Stuart, 42, who has previously entered not guilty pleas to three race-fixing allegations, faces a fourth fixing charge. It's alleged that with another man he "manipulated the overall result" of a race earlier this year by deception and without claim of right. A 40-year-old Canterbury man who denies three race-fixing charges and who is yet to enter pleas on two unrelated drugs charges had another drugs charge laid this week. Graham Henry Beirne, a 71-year-old Christchurch man, previously denied two race fixing charges, and faces a third charge. Defence counsel Richard Raymond QC asked for no plea to be entered on the new charge, and Judge Neave remanded him until March 25. Three other men – aged 50, 35 and 26 – deny race-fixing allegations, as does Palmerston North man Brent Stephen Wall, 47, and 44-year-old Rolleston-based horse trainer Nigel Raymond McGrath. Others face drugs charges that their lawyers say is unconnected to the horse racing investigation, including Elie Sawma, a 42-year-old Christchurch hairdresser charged with supplying the Class B controlled drug MDMA, possession of MDMA, and offering to supply the Class A drug cocaine. Another accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is yet to enter pleas. Some of the accused were remanded by Judge Raoul Neave to a Crown case review hearing on March 25 next year, while others will be back in court on January 29. By: Kurt Bayer NZ Herald reporter based in Christchurch   Reprinted with permission of The New Zealand Herald

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today considered a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1) against licensed trainer Kylie Hughes. ARHR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under AHRR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Ms Hughes related to a post-race urine sample collected from the horse ‘Nevada Rocket’ after it won Race 2, the ‘Mildura Holden Pace’, at Mildura on 22 February 2017. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain a prohibited substance, namely cobalt, at a concentration greater than 200 µg/L. This result was confirmed by the Racing Science Centre in Brisbane. The HRV RAD Board considered the statements of Investigative Steward Neal Conder, RASL Scientific Manager Paul Zahra and veterinary consultant Professor Paul Mills. Ms Hughes pleaded guilty to the charge, before the HRV RAD Board heard submissions on penalty from both parties. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered Ms Hughes’ 25- year involvement in the industry, her good record over this period of time, and her guilty plea. Also considered were the circumstances of a partially concurrent Harness Racing New South Wales matter that led to this inquiry being adjourned on 28 September 2017, and resulted in Ms Hughes being disqualified between 20 April 2017 and 3 September 2019. The Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board (RADB) is established under section 50B of the Racing Act (1958). The RADB is an independent Board established to hear and determine appeals in relation to decisions made under the rules to impose penalties on persons and to hear and determine charges made against persons for serious offences. In handing down its penalty, the HRV RAD Board highlighted the significance of the rules in relation to prohibited substances in harness racing, the importance of conducting races fairly and with integrity, along with the protection of horses and the participants involved in the industry. In considering all of these matters, the HRV RAD Board imposed a 12-month disqualification. It was ordered that the disqualification be backdated to commence on 28 September 2017, the date of the original hearing, and be served concurrently with the HRNSW penalty. The HRV RAD Board also ordered that ‘Nevada Rocket’ be disqualified from Race 2 at Mildura on 22 February 2017 and that the placings be amended accordingly. HRV RAD Board Panel: Judge Graeme Hicks and Rod Osborne.   Harness Racing Victoria  

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