Day At The Track

Prominent owner speaks out on new ruling

11:06 AM 11 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Howard Taylor
Prominent owner Howard Taylor spoke out on new rulings set by WEG and Jeff Gural-owned tracks.

The following letter was submitted by harness racing owner Howard Taylor.

It seems that the industry is not concerned, but I believe that everyone in harness racing should be up in arms over the recent announcement from the partnership of Jeff Gural and WEG.

For those who live in a cocoon, these entities have announced that they will bar owners of horses from participating at their tracks if one of their horses tests positive for a class 1 or 2 medication, as well as a TCO2 or steroid positive. In this day and age of advanced testing at microscopic, nonperformance enhancing levels, it is non just likely, but probable that many innocents will suffer.

Imagine you were a small time trainer, in the business all your life with marginal success. You finally get the big horse you wanted for all your life. You have him prepped for the Meadowlands Pace or North America Cup. But days before you enter, one of the owners of your horse has a trainer in another state, who you never met, receive a positive for a class 2 substance at 5 Picograms (Billionth of a gram). Your horse is now barred from the race.

How about the big owner with horses in many different barns, with many different partners. A trainer gets a positive with a horse you never heard of, but which is owned by someone whom you have only marginal dealings. You may have never met him (think fractional ownership) BARRED!

You wonder how this is legal as you make your stakes payments faithfully, and the track accepted them. However, the courts have rules that this is legal.

They own the tracks so they can make the Rules. They can even change them on a whim as we have seen them do, when it affects their interests adversely.

They not only believe that they can dictate terms, but also how you can race. I used to own a small part of Lady Shadow. She regularly beat most horses, including one name Solar Sister. Solar Sister is owned by Clay Horner, Chairman of the Board of WEG.

Two weeks before last years Roses Are Red Stake, I received a call from Jaime Martin, the Director of Racing. He told me that he was being pressured to not allow her to participate while she was trained by Ron Adams. He suggested that we switch trainers. I asked if Adams was barred and he acknowledged that Ron regularly raced there.

He indicated that she would likely be barred if Adams trained her at the time of entry. Against my suggested we gave in and switched barns. Incredibly, Ron Adams was allowed to race another horse in the same race.

These people are petty and vengeful. They are intent on ruining the sport they claim to be saving. In his announcement, Clay Horner couldn't help himself but to cite Lady Shadow as an example of conduct he is seeking to correct. Yet, Lady Shadow was found with an excessive level of Clenbuterol, a Class 3 substance, and thus would not have been affected by the Rule.

Traditionally, horsemen don't get involved until it affects them or their pockets. This Rules is so far reaching that it likely will affect many. Unfortunately, by then it will be too late.

Horsemen must do something now, before it is too late. We should just refuse to stake horses to races they control. We should avoid the entry box at their tracks. Turn on them before they turn on you. I personally own a lot of horses with many different trainers. Some I have no control over. But, I have asked my trainers to avoid racing at Freehold North (The Meadowlands) when possible.

I have several top caliber horses which will not be staked to races controlled by these egomaniacs. And, if it does affect me personally, I will simply exit the business. Forewarned is forearmed. Horsemen beware!

Howard Taylor,  Philadelphia, PA

 

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