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On 25 January 2018, licensed trainer/driver Mr Larry Eastman was convicted in the Bendigo Magistrates Court of five criminal charges that included using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes and engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event. Subsequently, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have issued a charge against Mr Larry Eastman under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 267 which states: Subject to sub-rule (2) the Stewards may for such period and on such conditions as they think fit, disqualify a person who is found guilty of a crime or an offence in any State or Territory of Australia or in any country. As a result of Mr Eastman’s conviction and through further investigations by HRV Stewards, charges have also been issued against the following licensed persons;  Mr Scott Dyer (8 charges), Ms Lynette Eastman (3 Charges) and Mr Danny O’Bree (2 Charges). All charges will be heard by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on a date to be fixed.     Harness Racing Victoria

An Australian gambler was able to parlay A$1,600 (US$1,245) into an incredible A$56,000 (US$43,000) after pulling off an upset win during a horserace in February 2013. While he basked in his winnings and the attention he received after the long-shot victory, some began quietly questioning how it was possible. The truth has finally come out, with the gambler among 78 looking at charges of fraud. Edward Ridgway was the prophet who foresaw Alma’s Fury winning the race that day. The track was wet, which always resulted in a poor performance by the horse. Always, except for one race. That win unleashed an investigation that uncovered a history of fraudulent bets. All of the bets were perpetrated by the same individual, Stephen Charles Fletcher, who was already in hot water for receiving insider information in various gambling activities, according to The Sydney Morning Herald report. Fletcher was first introduced to authorities in 2006 after he and his betting partner, Eddie Hayson, had won millions wagering on a rugby match. Authorities accused the pair of learning prior to the match that a key player wouldn’t be on the field due to an injury, and used the information to enter their bets. Both Fletcher and Hayson denied the allegations, and there wasn’t enough proof for a conviction. However, Fletcher was subsequently banned from gambling. From September 2012 to March 2013, Fletcher used the identities of 77 individuals, including police officers, to continue his betting activities, according to the report. He has been shown to have been behind bets placed at a number of horserace tracks around Australia, and also in Hong Kong and Singapore. In one instance, he used Ridgway’s account in a horserace in Hong Kong, turning US$233 into US$13,774. In February 2013, Fletcher made 28 bets under the names of others in racing events ranging from greyhounds in Western Australia to harness racing in Penrith. Former police officers Senior Constable Marc Smith and Senior Constable Tony Williams were also caught up in the investigation. The duo face charges for soliciting fellow officers to join in on the fraud. It has been determined that Williams met Fletcher through the latter’s friend, Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, who is also under investigation. Fletcher has now been charged with 78 counts of “dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.” Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in an Aussie prison. Knowing his propensity for using others’ identities, authorities will probably want to make sure it’s really him before sending him away. By Erik Gibbs Reprinted with permission of Calvinayre.com site

An aggrieved harness racing bettor has gone to court to recoup more than $31,000 in winnings he said he was cheated out of when a doped horse won a race in New Jersey two years ago. Leading figures in harness racing said they had never before heard of such a lawsuit, which accuses the trainer of fraud and racketeering. The general practice is to reallocate the purse to other owners in the event a winning horse is later proven to have been doped, but not to pay back bettors. The trainer's lawyer said the lawsuit was flawed, and that he might demand its retraction. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, represents an effort by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to open the gates for more litigation by bettors, which the animal rights group hopes would dramatically curtail illegal horse doping. PETA contends that injured horses are sometimes dying on the tracks because they were doped illegally or overmedicated to keep them running when they should be recuperating. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jeffrey Tretter, an experienced gambler from Granite City, Illinois. The lawsuit says Tretter placed wagers through an online betting site on a harness race at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Jan. 15, 2016. The horses he picked to place first through fourth instead finished behind Tag Up and Go, who had been a longshot in the race. Meadowlands later revealed that Tag Up and Go had tested positive for EPO, a banned performance-enhancing substance, based on blood samples taken in December. As a result, trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr. was barred from competing at Meadowlands, but there was no redress for bettors such as Tretter. According to his lawsuit, he correctly picked the horses that finished second, third, fourth and fifth behind the doped horse in a variety of wagers that would have paid a combined $31,835 if Tag Up and Go had been disqualified. The lawsuit alleges fraud on the part of Bresnahan and the company that owned Tag Up and Go. It also alleges violations of the federal and state anti-racketeering laws known as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), contending that the federal law was violated because Bresnahan was engaging in interstate commerce. The suit asks that Tretter be recompensed for his lost winnings in the race and be awarded additional punitive damages. Bresnahan, who runs a stable in Manalapan, New Jersey, referred The Associated Press to his lawyer, Howard Taylor, who said the lawsuit would not hold up in court. According to Taylor, the testing involving Tag Up and Go has no official standing in the U.S. legal system because it was conducted at a racing lab in Hong Kong. He also said the suspension imposed by the Meadowlands on Bresnahan was the act of a private business, and did not represent any official finding of wrongdoing by the trainer. Taylor said he planned to contact the New Jersey law office representing Tretter, demanding that they retract the lawsuit and apologize to Bresnahan. "If not, we're looking into filing a suit for libel," Taylor said. In February 2016, Bresnahan issued a statement insisting he neither administered EPO to Tag Up and Go, nor authorized anyone else to do so. "This news was a complete shock to me and obviously very upsetting," he wrote. Shortly after that statement appeared, Meadowlands announced that a second horse of Bresnahan's had tested positive for EPO. Bresnahan also was fined and suspended for 60 days for illegally administering the painkiller oxymorphone to a horse called Mr. Caviar in 2012, according to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. The owner of Meadowlands, Jeff Gural, has been among the leaders in harness racing trying to curb doping. The Tag Up and Go doping case emerged through one of his initiatives, establishing "out of competition" drug testing that subjects horses to the possibility of testing at any time. But he said unscrupulous trainers are constantly changing tactics to avoid detection. "It's a cat and mouse game, the same as in human sports," Gural said. "They know what drugs are being tested for — they try to stay one step ahead." There has been some federal engagement in the fight against horse doping. For example, a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania last year won the conviction of a horse trainer at Penn National race track on charges of conspiring with three veterinarians to fraudulently administer prescription drugs for her horses on race days. There is also a bill pending in Congress that would establish a national anti-doping and medication authority for horse racing in the U.S., operated under the oversight of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, known as USADA. The bill, introduced in the House last year, has not advanced out of committee. Gural said he supports the bill as a needed step toward standardizing rules that now vary among the 38 different racing jurisdictions in the U.S. Many leading harness racing figures oppose the bill, including Mike Tanner, CEO of the U.S. Trotting Association. "There are too many holes in it," said Tanner, who worries that the bill would impose significant new costs on owners to underwrite additional drug testing. PETA is critical of horse racing, but is pushing for reforms rather than actively campaigning for an all-out ban. The group hopes the lawsuit will curtail doping. "Horses continue to be drugged, bettors get cheated, and trainers get slaps on the wrist," said PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo. "Maybe if they're hit squarely in the wallet, they will pay attention and stop hurting horses." By David Crary Reprinted with permission of ABC News

A 69-year-old Brisbane man has been charged over allegations of harness racing match-fixing. Police say the man rigged the outcome of harness races at Albion Park in Brisbane and Globe Derby Park in Adelaide, and fraudulently purchased harness racing horses while disqualified from any involvement in racing. The Redcliffe man was charged on Wednesday with match-fixing, fraud and receiving tainted property, and will appear in the Redcliffe Magistrates Court on January 8. He is the fourth person to be charged with match-fixing offences as part of a joint investigation by the Queensland Racing Crime Squad and the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. Reprinted with permission of The West Australian

Queensland harness racing fixer Barton Cockburn has been warned off for life from all race tracks in the state. In a Brisbane court on Wednesday, 28-year-old Cockburn was fined $5000 after pleading guilty to three charges of match fixing at the Albion Park Paceway in November 2016. The driver-trainer was one of three people charged with match fixing offences in April this year by detectives from the Queensland Racing Crime Squad after an investigation of match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. On Friday, Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett announced he had cancelled Cockburn's license and advised him he had been warned off for life from all race tracks in Queensland. "Mr Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing – thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Mr Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." QRIC warns about severe bans for fixing Participants in Queensland's three racing codes have been put on notice they face severe bans if they engage in match-fixing. Queensland Racing Integrity Commission boss Ross Barnett said harness driver Barton Cockburn, who pleaded guilty to match-fixing charges in the Magistrates Court last week, had been warned off for life. The ban means Cockburn can't attend any racetrack in the world. "Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing, thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." Cockburn was one of three people charged with match-fixing offences in April this year after the Racing Crime Squad investigated match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. He was fined $5000 with no conviction recorded. Barnett said the addition of two more full-time investigators to the RCS would bolster the commission's commitment to integrity.

Two out of three of the defendants found guilty in June this year of ‘Obtaining by deception’ in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution of a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud have been sentenced in the Wellington High Court today. Michael O’Brien, guilty of five charges, received a sentence of imprisonment for four years, six months. Kevin Coffey, guilty of one charge, was sentenced to home detention for 12 months. Paul Max, guilty of three charges, will be sentenced in the Wellington High Court on 27 July. The case involved the manipulation of gambling licenses and grants and the offending was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand and the SFO. It was a significant case in New Zealand for the ‘Class 4’ gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs. SFO Director, Julie Read said, “The sentences imposed today reflect the very serious nature of the misconduct in this case. The proceeds from pokie machines, intended to provide community funding for sport, health, education and other activities, were directed to entities nominated by Michael O’Brien so that he could obtain a personal benefit amounting to $6.86 million.” ENDS For further media information Andrea Linton Serious Fraud Office 027 705 4550 Note to editors CRIMES ACT OFFENCES Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,— (a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or (b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or (c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or (d) causes loss to any other person.  (1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered. (2) In this section, deception means— (a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—   (i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or   (ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or (b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or (c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.  ABOUT THE SFO The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act. The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption. The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption. This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy. The SFO has three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams. The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers. Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”  Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”  In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to: the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or; the suspected scale of the fraud and/or; the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or; any relevant public interest considerations. The SFO’s Annual Report 2016 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz The SFO Twitter feed is @FraudSeriousNZ

Verdicts were handed down in the trial of three people, including harness racing trainer Mike O'Brien,  charged with offences in relation to a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud in the Wellington High Court today. The defendants; Michael Joseph O’Brien (58) of Blenheim, Paul Anthony Max (60) of Nelson, and Kevin Coffey (57) of Hastings, faced Crimes Act charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’. Michael O’Brien has been found guilty of five charges, Paul Max has been found guilty of three charges and the remaining defendant has been found guilty of one charge and not guilty of one other. The manipulation of gambling licenses and grants was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The investigation was a significant case in New Zealand for the ‘Class 4’ gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs. SFO Director, Julie Read said, “Funding from pokie machines provides millions of dollars of community funding for sport, health, education and other activities every year. Operation Chestnut has been effective in enabling the DIA to pinpoint areas where compliance can be lifted in the sector so that pokie machine benefits can continue without the risk of manipulation or potential criminal activity.” The defendants were remanded in custody by Justice Dobson to next appear for sentencing on 13 July. Andrea Linton Serious Fraud Office 027 705 4550 BACKGROUND TO INVESTIGATION A Pokies 101 guide is available at this link: http://www.dia.govt.nz/Gambling it describes how the Class 4 gambling sector in New Zealand operates. CRIMES ACT OFFENCES Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,- (a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or (b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or (c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or (d) causes loss to any other person. (1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered. (2) In this section, deception means- (a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and- (i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or (ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or (b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or (c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person. ABOUT THE SFO The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act. The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption. The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption. This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy. The SFO has three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams. The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers. Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”  Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”  In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to: the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or; the suspected scale of the fraud and/or; the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or; any relevant public interest considerations. The SFO’s Annual Report 2016 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz The SFO Twitter feed is @FraudSeriousNZ

A Marlborough harness racing identity says the Crown has failed to prove basic elements of charges alleging he was behind a scheme to deceive gambling licensing authorities. In a nearly two-month trial, it was alleged Department of Internal Affairs, which issues licences for pokie gaming machines and the trusts that distribute the profits, was kept in the dark about one man's involvement in a trust intended to channel gambling profits towards racing clubs. Michael (Mike) Joseph O'Brien​, 57, of Blenheim, was in the department's bad books. At the High Court in Wellington on Thursday, O'Brien's lawyer, Bruce Squire, QC, said the department and its inspectors held a "deeply entrenched conviction" that O'Brien was an unsuitable person to be involved in that type of gambling. READ MORE: * Deception alleged in control over pokie machine gambling and profits * Trial ends for elderly pokie gaming fraud defendant Pat O'Brien ​* Defence evidence given in pokie machine profit fraud trial * Long-running pokie gambling fraud trial enters final stages But O'Brien had never been convicted of a Gambling Act offence, and had never been given an opportunity to respond to the claimed unsuitability. The Crown has alleged O'Brien and two other men hid his involvement with setting up and running a trust, Bluegrass, to operate pokie machines and distribute the profits, and with three businesses where machines were sited. But Squire said another defendant had told the department of O'Brien's involvement, and they issued licences for the trust anyway. The court has heard that O'Brien was earning more than $1 million a year lobbying on behalf of racing clubs wanting grants from gaming money. He would invoice the clubs for his services at the start of the season and the Crown alleges O'Brien would then influence or control the grants process so that the clubs received about three times the amount they paid him. One of the men standing trial with O'Brien said there was evidence that the department knew of, and approved, the lobbying arrangement. There were no charges relating to the lobbying or the money received.  In his final address to Justice Robert Dobson, the man, who is representing himself, said he told the department what he knew of O'Brien's involvement helping in administration and advice for O'Brien's father, who was setting up Bluegrass. He said that alongside that information, he told the department O'Brien was not "directly" involved in the trust, which was correct in the context the statement was made. All three defendants pleaded not guilty. O'Brien faces five charges, two relating to the trust and three relating to the gaming machine venues.  Paul Anthony Max, 60, of Nelson, was charged in relation to the three gaming venues, and the 56-year-old man whose name was suppressed faced the two charges relating to the trust. The charges dated from between 2009 and 2013. When the trial began, 15 charges were laid but 10 were dropped. The trial had also begun with O'Brien's father, former New Zealand Harness Racing chairman Patrick O'Brien, 83, of Blenheim, facing charges. The charges against him were stopped due to ill-health.  The Crown alleged that Mike O'Brien in effect directed the grants made to racing clubs, but Squire said the evidence did not support that. One list suggested less than one-quarter of the amounts on O'Brien's "wishlist" were approved.  O'Brien could not have controlled or influenced the grants process without the complicity of the committee that approved grants, and no committee member said their independence was compromised, Squire said. Squire said there was no evidence to support the Crown allegation that O'Brien had influenced grants other trusts made. Reprinted with permission of Stuff  

A Blenheim-based harness racing personality earned more than $1 million a year as a result of influencing or controlling grants from pokie gambling machine profits, the Crown alleges. Horse trainer Michael Joseph O'Brien, 57, is accused of setting up a trust to operate pokie machines in pubs and clubs and being the unseen hand behind it, including controlling where gambling machine profits would be distributed. The Crown says O'Brien's scheme was to invoice racing clubs for "lobbying" for grants on their behalf, and then arrange for the clubs to receive grants of about three times the amount he invoiced them. It was alleged that, from 2006, O'Brien received "substantially more" than $1m per racing season through the invoicing scheme, totalling $11.5m by 2013. He did not face charges relating to the invoicing scheme. READ MORE: * Deception alleged in control over pokie machine gambling and profits * Trial ends for elderly pokie gaming fraud defendant Pat O'Brien ​* Defence evidence given in pokie machine profit fraud trial One racing club representative told the court he would rather not have paid O'Brien's invoices, but O'Brien was "really successful" in lobbying for funds for the club. O'Brien and two others are on trial at the High Court in Wellington facing charges relating to the way O'Brien's involvement in a grant-making trust, and bars and cafes that contained pokie machines, was concealed. The three have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Final addresses for all three were expected this week. On Wednesday, prosecutor Grant Burston said that, through O'Brien's hidden interest in businesses where the pokie machines were placed, and the trust, he could sway the grants process. It depended, however, on being able to conceal his involvement from the Department of Internal Affairs, which regulated the industry, because O'Brien believed the department would not approve the licences if it knew he was involved. There was evidence he had become frustrated with the difficulty of getting gambling money grants for racing clubs, which led to a decrease in his own income. From earning $1.74 million from the racing club invoices in 2007, his earnings dropped to $1.32 in the 2009 racing year. In 2009 he decided to set up his own trust, Bluegrass, to operate the pokie machines in venues he acquired, and control the grants process, it was alleged. From there, racing club income to him or an associated party swung up, and reportedly reached a high of $1.92m in the 2012 racing year.  O'Brien has pleaded not guilty to five charges dating from between 2009 and 2013. At the start of the trial, the Crown laid 15 charges against defendants including O'Brien, but later a decision was made not to proceed on 10 of the charges, dating from 2007 to 2010. O'Brien and a 56-year-old man whose name was suppressed faced two charges of obtaining an operator's licence for Bluegrass, and control over the proceeds of gambling, by falsely representing that O'Brien was not involved. O'Brien and Paul Anthony Max, 60, face three charges relating to getting venue licences for three businesses in 2009 and 2010 by concealing O'Brien's involvement. Max allegedly held O'Brien's interests in his name to conceal O'Brien's involvement. O'Brien's ailing father, Patrick Francis O'Brien, 83, had been one of the defendants but, soon after the trial started on February 27, the judge removed him on health grounds. Patrick O'Brien was a former chairman of Harness Racing New Zealand. The defendants begin their closing addresses to Justice Robert Dobson, sitting without a jury, on Thursday. Reprinted with permission of stuff.co.nz

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Wednesday, April 19, 2017) — Increased out-of-competition testing, investing in additional investigators and research into emerging threats is the most effective way to catch — and, more importantly, deter — cheating in horse racing. That was the big take-away from the drug-testing forum on opening day of the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s 83rd annual conference on Equine Welfare and Racing Integrity at the Charleston Marriott. The panel featured Dr. Scott Stanley of the University of California, Davis, which conducts that state’s horse-racing testing; Dr. Anthony Fontana of Truesdail Laboratories; and, speaking via teleconferencing, Dr. George Maylin, the longtime director of the New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory. Also on the panel was Brice Cote, a former standardbred driver and detective in New Jersey State Police’s racetrack unit who heads the integrity efforts at The Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs harness tracks. Even if the panelists expressed varying beliefs on the prevalence of rules-violators, they all emphasized the importance of out-of-competition testing — taking samples from horses in between races — as a way to detect substances that no longer show in traditional blood or urine tests from samples taken immediately after a race but still could have an impact on a horse’s performance. "The only way we're going to stop this is by intelligence-based policing and out-of-competition testing," Cote said. “Most jurisdictions have very good drug testing,” Stanley said afterward. “We do robust testing, and most of the labs are accredited as well. Now we look at big challenges. And when you look at big challenges, you can make those mountains into molehills, or you can take them off one at a time and get them knocked down. We are doing both. We are taking the ones that have legitimate concerns for the industry, like cobalt when that came up. We found that, set a threshold, established rules and made that go away — quickly. Steroids, anabolic and corticosteroids, those now are well-regulated. This are big wins for the industry. They weren’t low-hanging fruit either. We still have some challenges that have now climbed the tree, they’re higher up. And we need to knock those off.” Stanley discussed the potential of “biological passports” as a tool, in its infancy of development for equines, that could be used in out-of-competition testing. The testing would provide a baseline result to which subsequent testing both pre-race and between races could be compared. “If they change abruptly, if the bio-markers tell us this horse was given an anabolic agent, we don’t have to detect it,” he said of the exact substance. “We’d be able to say, ‘This horse cannot naturally produce this profile. It has to be enhanced.’” “Informed testing, focused testing and targeting testing is something we need to put more emphasis on,” said ARCI president Ed Martin. “Out of competition testing should be expanded, but it’s real value doesn’t come until you’ve expended the research dollars to be able to detect the substances not being detected in the existing out-of-competition testing.” Also Tuesday: A panel of administrative veterinarians discussed keeping horses’ treatment records and the trust issues that arise among equine practitioners, horsemen and regulators as to proper use. Dr. Scott Palmer, New York’s equine medical director, said that regulators getting horses’ treatment records can benefit horsemen and veterinarians because of the research made possible. He noted that Depo-Medrol was the most popular corticosteroid used in joint injections up until 2012. Unknown at the time, the medication could pool in other tissue and stick around longer when used in hocks and stifles, trickier joints than ankles, Palmer said. “We discovered that Depo-Medrol could be found in the joint in a blood test of a horse as long as 100 days after the administration period,” he said. “The idea that you go on the (Racing Medication & Testing Consortium) guidelines and see 21 days for Depo-Medrol is a risky business. It wasn’t accurate, because there was such a variation in the amount of time that the Depo-Medrol would be discoverable in a post-race blood test.” Palmer said that, with what was learned from knowing the location of injections and the timing of administration, veterinarians were cautioned about using Depo-Medrol in the first place. He said that today in New York if a veterinarian uses Depo-Medrol, the horse must be tested for the substance before running. “That’s a good example how we can use the research findings from the medical records, the treatment records to protect people and help create a better regulatory policy,” Palmer said. A morning panel brought various perspectives on how to promote the good in horse racing while not ignoring issues facing the sport. Wagner to players: ‘Regulators do strive to get it right’ Judy Wagner, outgoing ARCI chair and horse racing’s First Lady of Handicapping, had a message for her fellow horseplayers. Wagner is the 2001 National Horseplayers Championship winner, the horseplayers’ representative on the board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the vice chair of the Louisiana Racing Commission. With her one-year term as ARCI chair ending Thursday, she’ll hand the baton to chair-elect Jeff Colliton of the Washington Horse Racing Commission. “As a horseplayer — and this is a message that I want to get across to horseplayers: Regulators do strive to get it right,” she told the audience at the Charleston Marriott for the three-day conference. “We really want to make the players, everybody in the industry, feel that we have an industry of integrity. “Let handicappers know that they have a product that they can respect; they don’t have to handicap the rumors that this trainer is doping horses or whatever. And saying that, I wish that we could educate the public that there is a difference between d-o-p-e and legal medication to help the horse. There is a place for therapeutic drugs.” Committee recommends banning Clenbuterol for Quarter Horses The Quarter Horse Racing Committee voted 5-3 to recommend amending the ARCI model rule to prohibit the bronchodilator Clenbuterol in Quarter Horse and mixed-breed races, with testing in blood serum and plasma, urine and hair permitted. The recommendation now goes to the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee for consideration, then the Model Rules Committee and ultimately the ARCI board, if approved at each step. Clenbuterol is a useful therapeutic medication to treat respiratory ailments, but its abuse to build muscle mass sparked American Quarter Horse Association officials to request that it be completely banned in their breed. The abuse is not seen with Thoroughbreds, for which such muscle build-up could impede running that breed’s longer distances, officials said. The AQHA officials requested that the rule be breed-specific. “We don’t feel it is our job to take it away from other breeds,” said Janet VanBebber, the AQHA’s chief racing officer. “But we readily acknowledge that there is abuse within our breed of the sport.” The three racing jurisdictions voting against the recommendation said they thought it should be banned for all breeds. Ed Martin ARCI president

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Tuesday, April 18, 2017) — Are our testing laboratories catching the cheaters? And are our racing officials getting it right? Those are among the hot-button topics that promise insightful and lively discussion at the ARCI Conference on Racing Integrity and Welfare that runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Charleston Marriott. The three days of panels and presentations address issues facing members of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which represents the only independent entities recognized by law to license, make and enforce rules and adjudicate matters pertaining to pari-mutuel racing. Paul Matties Jr., winner of the 2016 National Handicapping Championship, will provide a horseplayer’s perspective into whether today’s racing officials are making the correct calls. Joining Matties on the “Questioning Whether Racing Officials Get It Right” session on Wednesday morning will be veteran steward Hugh Gallagher, chair of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program and the New York Racing Association’s first safety steward, and Maryland Racing Commission executive director and ARCI treasurer Mike Hopkins. Outgoing ARCI chair and 2001 NHC tournament winner Judy Wagner serves as moderator. “Any time I can represent the horseplayers, I’m always honored,” said the 47-year-old Matties, a professional gambler and horse owner from Ballston Spa, N.Y. “It’s become commonplace in the industry over time that the players are the ones who are forgotten when decisions need to be made. I’m optimistic that somebody is reaching out. All horseplayers go about things in different ways. I’ve been thinking about it, so I can represent everybody — not just what I believe. I’m going to think of it as we’re a group. “I’m not going there to be critical of anything that has been done in the past. Let’s look at future things. I’m excited to go, and I’m curious what kind of things I’ll be asked. I hope Judy doesn’t take it easy on me. I want it to be substantive.” Wagner, who is vice chair of the Louisiana Racing Commission and the horseplayers’ representative on the board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the panel is part of ARCI’s outreach to players to “listen and ensure a product that has a high level of integrity. “We want this panel — and the others at the conference — to provide unvarnished insight and dialogue on how we can improve, as well as what we are doing right.” “ARCI members work for the public and not any aspect of the industry,” said ARCI president Ed Martin. “We are always careful to keep the horseplayer in mind with everything we do.  Horseplayers outnumber everyone else and keep the sport going. We should never forget that. “There are many racing-related meetings each year by various groups, but the annual RCI conference is the only one where industry issues and potential solutions are discussed directly with the people who actually make and enforce the rules throughout North America and parts of the Caribbean. The regulatory standards determined at this meeting more often than not actually become the policy affecting everyone involved in racing.  The RCI members are the only truly independent arbiters of racing-related matters as designated by the various laws that have empowered them.” Other panels at the conference: “Drug Testing Forum: Are We Doing It Right? Are We Catching the Cheaters?” “Veterinarians: Racing Records and the Trust Issue” “The Adjudication System: Is there a Better Way?” “Policing the Backside: A View From the Front Line” “Regulating the Whip and Crop” “Promoting Racing - Putting our Best Foot Forward in a Storm of Negativity” Presentations include “The Challenge in Adapting New Technology and Opportunities to Statutory Limitations.” Meetings include: model-rules committee, drug testing standards, ARCI’s annual business meeting and board organizational sessions as well as the regulators’ Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing committees. Wednesday’s luncheon speaker features Bennett Liebman, Esq., the Albany Law School’s Government Lawyer-in-Residence, giving a talk entitled, “Confessions of a Recovering Racing Regulator.” The complete agenda and information about speakers can be found at http://bit.ly/2oGkAcj. Ed Martin, ARCI president

Patrick O’Brien, the former Harness Racing NZ chairman, appeared by video-link in a the Wellington High Court on his 83rd birthday on Monday. He is accused, with his son, Mike O’Brien, and two others, of multiple counts of obtaining gambling licenses and funds via deception. The doyen of New Zealand’s racing industry, now frail and infirm, denies the charges against him, as do the other three. The prosecution asserts that Mike O’Brien, 58, described in court as a racing lobbyist engaged in helping racing venues to obtain grants, was denied a gambling license in 2005 for reasons of conflict of interest. Subsequently, it’s alleged, he encouraged others to establish companies on his behalf in order to obtain gambling licenses. Also on trial is Paul Max, 60, and a former Department of Internal Affairs employee who cannot be named for legal reasons. The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible in New Zealand for issuing licenses under the Gambling Act.     Grants For Cash It’s alleged that Mike O’Brien controlled millions in pokie profits for his own purposes via a company called Bluegrass Holdings. He also allegedly ran a scheme where he received kickbacks from racing clubs in return for grants. Prosecutor Grant Burston said Michael O’Brien exercised “significant influence” over Bluegrass Holdings, a fact that the others were aware of, and which they concealed from Internal Affairs Inspectors. Charitable trusts, such as Bluegrass claimed to be, are permitted to distribute the proceeds of their gambling operations to underfunded racing venues. But, according to Burston, Mike O’Brien ensured those proceeds went to the clubs that gave him the best kickbacks. Racing Ain’t What it Used To Be In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, apparently conducted two years ago when the fraud investigation was launched, but first published only last week, Mike’s father Patrick claimed he set up Bluegrass for the benefit of clubs after government funding dried up.    “The taxes the government take out of it don’t leave enough for the clubs to exist on,” he said. “When I was growing up you went to the pictures on your push bike and on Saturday there was nothing else to do unless you played football. “Now everyone goes to the beach or goes to the hills. They’ve got casinos to go to and pokie machines to go to. The pubs are open to midnight. A day at the races is no longer the attraction it used to be. They’re not betting now what they were betting 30 years ago. “The take for the clubs, particularly those with poor dates and country venues … they’re not getting enough to exist.“ The prosecution intends to call 46 witness, while the trial is expected to last six weeks. By Kylie Taylor Reprinted with permission of the onlinecasino.com site

Hunter harness racing was rocked by news late on Friday that the licence of harness racing trainer-driver Josh Osborn had been suspended over alleged betting activities. Osborn, who is ninth on the NSW drivers’ premiership with 31 wins from 159 starts, was the leading Hunter reinsman this season. The grandson of legendary trainer-driver Dick Osborn was stood down by Harness Racing NSW stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule 183, which allows the suspension of licences pending the outcome of an inquiry. “HRNSW has taken these measures after obtaining information indicating that betting accounts in the name of Mr Osborn had bets recorded on horses in races in which he participated, in contravention of Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 173,” HRNSW said in a statement. He was yet to be charged but stewards suspended his licence given, among other factors, the “extremely serious nature of such conduct and absolute nature of AHRR 173 offences”.  Meanwhile, Newcastle and Menangle meetings on Saturday night had been pushed back to later times but were still going ahead as of Friday night despite predicted extreme heat. The first of 10 races at Newcastle is set down for 7.04pm and Menangle’s Chariots of Fire meeting will begin at 6.48pm. Former Keinbah-based training team Shane and Lauren Tritton have Salty Robyn and Anything For Love in the group 1 Chariots Of Fire, in which Lazarus was an odds-on favourite. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald  

Columbus, OH--- According to an article in Newsday published on Friday (Oct. 28), former leading harness racing owner/breeder David Brooks, died in federal prison on Thursday (Oct. 27) in Danbury, Conn. of undisclosed causes. Brooks, 61, was the former executive of DHB Industries Inc. and was in the midst of serving a 17-year sentence after he was convicted in 2010 on a 17-count indictment that included conspiracy; securities, wire and mail fraud; insider trading; and obstruction of justice. Operating as Perfect World Enterprises and Bulletproof Enterprises, Brooks and his brother Jeffrey owned more than 800 horses when he was convicted, including 2004 Little Brown Jug winner Timesareachanging. The prison where Brooks was recently transferred is expected to issue a detailed report regarding the circumstances of his death in the near future. To access the full article please click here. For an article that appeared in The Atlantic shortly before his conviction, please click here. USTA Communications Department 

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have issued 39 charges under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) against licensed trainer/driver Mr Nathan Jack. The first 37 charges were issued under the provisions of AHRR 230 which reads as follows: Except with the consent of the Controlling Body a person shall not associate for purposes relating to the harness racing industry with a disqualified person or a person whose name appears in the current list of disqualifications published or adopted by a recognised harness racing authority.  It is alleged that from 7 January 2015 until 23 October 2015 Mr Jack did associate with NSW disqualified person Jackson Painting for the purposes of harness racing, including allegations of communication about the chances of competing horses, race tactics, ownership decisions regarding horses and the purchase of veterinary substances.       One further charge was issued under the provisions of AHRR 245 which reads as follows: A person shall not direct, persuade, encourage or assist anyone to breach these rules or otherwise engage in an improper practice. One charge was issued under the provisions of AHRR 246 which reads as follows: A person who has reasonable grounds for believing that someone is behaving, may behave or has behaved in a way causing, likely to cause or which has caused a breach of these rules shall promptly bring the matter to the notice of the Controlling Body or the Stewards. Both of these further charges also relate to Mr Jack’s alleged communication with Mr Painting. Other information in relation to this matter has been referred to HRNSW Stewards.  These charges will be heard before the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on a date to be fixed. Harness Racing Victoria

A local harness racing trainer who injected a racehorse with performance-enhancing drugs in 2010, then was caught six weeks later intending to do it again, has been fined $3,750 and is “branded with the scarlet letter of a cheat,” the prosecutor in the case said Friday. Derek Riesberry’s convictions for fraud over $5,000 and attempted fraud over $5,000 mark the first time in Canada horse doping was prosecuted criminally, instead of having regulatory agencies such as the Ontario Racing Commission hand out fines and suspensions. Riesberry, 46, now carries a criminal record, noted assistant Crown attorney Brian Manarin, speaking at the end of a 5½-year legal odyssey that took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. “He’s been branded with the scarlet letter of a cheat, which is a terrible thing,” he said. “He’s going to have to do a lot of things to make amends for shooting up a horse with a performance-enhancing drug.”  Manarin said there’s a difference between cyclist Lance Armstrong using performance-enhancing drugs and Riesberry injecting them into a horse, Everyone’s Fantasy, before it ran in Race 6 on Sept. 28, 2010, at Windsor Raceway. “The horse has no choice,” said Manarin. The horse was a defenceless victim in the hands of an unscrupulous trainer, Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin said as he passed sentence — a $2,500 fine for the fraud (injecting a horse) and $1,250 for attempted fraud (being caught with drug-filled syringes). People bet $12,746 on Race 6. Though Everyone’s Fantasy was injected with the drugs prior to the race, it finished in sixth place, out of the money.  On Nov. 7, 2010, Riesberry was intending to inject another horse, Good Long Life, but was caught before he had the chance. The horse was scratched from Race 3. The public placed bets totalling $11,758. Horse doping threatens the horse industry’s reputation and sends the public to other forms of gaming, Hugh Mitchell, the CEO of Western Fair and a longtime horse racing executive, said in an impact statement to the court. “It’s imperative the bettors always feel they are betting on a fair and ethical product,” he said. “Those who threaten (the industry’s) future through fraudulent practices must be held accountable.” Mitchell said he’s seen the “deplorable” effects of drug abuse on horses. “These horses are strong, beautiful, loyal animals and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” Riesberry’s licence is suspended. He has been working on a local farm, taking home $465 a week. His lawyer Andrew Bradie said his client has no intention of ever getting back in the business. “I believe he realizes he made a mistake and shouldn’t have done it and he’ll never do it again,” Bradie said outside the courthouse. Speaking to the Star’s Nick Brancaccio as he left the courthouse, Riesberry said: “It’s over with, glad to be done and I’m moving forward with my life.”  Both sides in this case thought the fine was fair. Riesberry had no previous criminal record, and he had no record of problems with the racing commission. Though he made a serious error in judgment, he shouldn’t go to jail, Manarin said. “But he should get a criminal record, which is what he got.” Manarin said the decision to go after Riesberry criminally was made in 2010 at the request of the OPP. Officers who investigated the horse doping told him that some of the penalties imposed by the racing commission were not enough to deter people, Manarin said. Now that Riesberry is convicted, “we’ll just see how it shakes out with respect to less or more cheating in the industry.” A second local trainer, Chris Haskell, is facing similar allegations, but his case has been delayed while awaiting the outcome of Riesberry’s case.  Drugging horses to enhance their performance is animal abuse, Ontario Racing Commission CEO Jean Major said in an impact statement to the court. Not only is it cheating, but it also can injure the horse as well as endanger everyone else participating in a race, he said.  “The offence has brought the integrity of horse racing into question,” he writes. “If allowed to continue without appropriate deterrents, such conduct could jeopardize the future of a multimillion-dollar sector of the Ontario economy.” by Brian Cross for The Windsor Star Reprinted with permission of The Windsor Star  

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