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LEXINGTON, KY - The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) recently named Marc Laino, Executive Director of the Illinois Racing Board (IRB), the recipient of the 2014 RCI Len Foote Award.   The Len Foote Award is the highest honor bestowed on racing commission executive directors in North America. The award was presented at the annual awards luncheon held on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lexington, KY. Laino has been employed in various capacities since 1987, including Deputy Director, State Director of Mutuels, and Board Investigator. He has served as the Executive Director since 2003, and currently chairs the RCI Wagering Systems Security Committee. "Marc has been a tremendous asset to the Illinois Racing Board and to RCI, and there is a pleasure to honor him with the Len Foote Award," said RCI President Ed Martin. "Marc is not only an expert on flat and harness racing, but his knowledge of wagering security is rivaled by few." RCI also honored James P. Gowen, Vice President and Secretary for the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau (TRPB), with the 2014 William H. May Award. The award is presented annually to an individual or group who has shown "meritorious service" to the pari-mutuel racing industry. Past recipients include Stanley Bergstein, John Gaines, and Steve Barham, the 2013 recipient. Gowen, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, has been involved in racing investigation since joining the TRBP as a field investigator in 1973. Gowen has worked at numerous racetracks across the United States, and was promoted to the TRPB Vice President position in 1996. Longtime friend and colleague John Wayne, the Executive Director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, noted that "Racing is better on a day-to-day basis because of the countless hours that Mr. Gowen has dedicated to the industry". At the luncheon Martin also honored the following individuals with the RCI President's Award for Exemplary Service: David Loregnard, Executive Director, Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority Vince Mares, Executive Director, New Mexico Racing Commission Dr. Mary Scollay-Ward, Equine Medical Director, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission John Wayne, Executive Director, Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission by Steve May, for

LEXINGTON, KY - A Hall of Fame Thoroughbred trainer, long time horse owner, and a leading regulatory veterinarian are the new officers of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) for 2014-2015, RCI President Ed Martin announced today. John T. Ward, Jr., the Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, was automatically elevated to become the RCI Chairman this month. Ward is a long time board member of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and a founding member and past president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association as well as the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). Ward has also served on the TOBA Sales Integrity Task Force and the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and as a member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. In 2002, he and his wife Donna were named recipients of the 2002 Kentucky Thoroughbred Media's Ambassadors of Racing Award. All RCI officers serve for a term of one year. Ward replaces Duncan Patterson, who is the current Chairman of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission. Arkansas Racing Commissioner Mark Lamberth was elected to be Chair-elect by the newly elected RCI Board. Lamberth has owned horses since 1985 and prior to his appointment to the commission Lamberth served on the Board of the Arkansas Horsemen's Benevolence & Protective Association. He is a prominent business leader in his state and serves on the RCI Model Rules and Equine Welfare Committees. The Director of Racing for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Jennifer Durenberger, DMV, was elected to serve as the association's Treasurer. Dr. Durenberger, who is also an attorney, has been involved as a regulatory veterinarian and racing official in multiple jurisdictions since becoming involved with racing in 1991. She is an accredited Steward and member of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program Education Committee. She serves on the American Association of Equine Practitioners Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee, the RCI Model Rules and Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committees, as well as The Jockey Club's Racing Equipment and Safety Committee. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association and is active with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Safety and Integrity Alliance. "At a critical time for the racing industry RCI continues to demonstrate proficiency and leadership in a number of areas essential to the sport. The collective involvement of our Members, working in consultation with the various breeds and industry leaders has resulted in important advances designed to safeguard horses as well as the integrity of the sport," RCI President Ed Martin said. "Those advances include widespread adherence to RCI/RMTC lab standards, increased reliance on pre-race veterinarian examinations, limits on toe grabs, development of universal totalizator system standards, and increased training and accreditation for racing officials." "The expertise represented in the RCI leadership and Board is balanced and represents every aspect of the sport. Veterinarians, owners, trainers, fans, those who know business, those who know racing, and those who understand government. RCI is truly independent with no agenda other than to protect these great sports by safeguarding our athletes and participants as well as the public interest," he said. RCI is incorporated in the United States as a not-for-profit 501(c)(6). It is the same legal structure as the National Football League, although it is currently only empowered to function in an advisory and supportive role to the government regulators of horse and greyhound racing, who comprise its voting members. by Steve May for the Association of Racing Commissioners International  

LEXINGTON, KY - RCI's 80th Annual Conference on Racing and Wagering Integrity opened this week in Lexington with calls for increased diligence on the part of the US federal government to commit resources and enforce its current laws governing compounding pharmacies and the distribution and use of illegal substances which are being confiscated by commission investigators at racetracks. "The failure of the federal government to enforce its laws is making our job harder," RCI President Ed Martin said at the conclusion of a panel on Regulatory Veterinarian and Racing Investigator Needs. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Equine Medical Director Dr. Mary Scollay briefed the attendees on substances coming from compounded laboratories and the difference between those that are legal and those not. In short, appropriate substances are those prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a specific horse following a specific diagnosis utilizing substances that have been authorized by the Federal Drug Administration directly for horses or extra label use. "Veterinarians and individuals who administer illegal compounded substances are crossing the line," Dr. Scollay said. Martin noted that several racing commissions had complained to the federal government more than a year ago, presenting information about illegal substances being marketed and distributed by compounding pharmacies in various states. To date no indictments have come down. Chris Clark, the President of the Organization of Racing Investigators, stressed that it was essential for commissions and racetracks to deploy investigators who are properly trained in order to effectively police the backstretch. In other RCI news: Outgoing Chairman Duncan Patterson encouraged member regulators to continue the push to enact uniform medication rules The Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee recommended to the ARCI Board of Directors that the Model Rules pertaining to restricted administration times for controlled therapeutic substances be changed to recommended withdrawal times Illinois Racing Board Commissioner Allan Monat, Chairman of the ARCI Rider and Driver Safety Committee, called for a renewed effort to ensure that racetracks had adequate insurance coverage to assist jockeys and riders who suffer injuries by Steve May, for RCI

SACRAMENTO, CA - Ralph Scurfield, who served more than eight years on the California Horse Racing Board from January 1991 through September 1999, passed away Tuesday in a Sacramento hospital at the age of 85. Mr. Scurfield devoted 40 years of his life to public service, including terms with the Sacramento Planning Commission, the Sacramento City Council, and the California State Fair and Exposition Board. He was greatly respected within the horse racing community during his years of service on the CHRB. He devoted countless hours of his personal time to the business of the Board and the betterment of the California horse racing industry, especially in matters concerning the health and safety of racehorses and workers in the industry. He was so respected by his fellow commissioners, they elected chairman for seven consecutive years, making him the second-longest tenured chairman in CHRB history. The Association of Racing Commissioners International also named him chairman in 1998. Mr. Scurfield is survived by his wife, Barbara; three sons, Donald, David, and Steven; two stepsons, Ken and Chris, and 14 grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held Tuesday, October 22, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club in Sacramento. by Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness  

Columbus, OH --- The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules last Wednesday (Sept. 25). In a letter to RCI President and CEO Ed Martin, USTA President Phil Langley explained the reasons behind the USTA's decision. So that our members and the industry might further understand and be aware of the USTA’s stance regarding uniform medication rules, that letter may be read by clicking on this link. USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH --- The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules last Wednesday (Sept. 25). In a letter to RCI President and CEO Ed Martin, USTA President Phil Langley explained the reasons behind the USTA's decision. So that our members and the industry might further understand and be aware of the USTA’s stance regarding uniform medication rules, that letter may be read by clicking on this link. Reprinted with permission from the USTA Communications Department

Chicago, IL --- Members of Harness Horsemen International today unanimously agreed to support the Sept. 25 decision by the Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules, and to withdraw the USTA membership from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc. The harness racing industry has provided more than $1 million in funding to the RMTC in the past decade. The consensus from the USTA is that while they support uniform medication policies, breed customization should be mandatory, given that the breed characteristics between Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses are significantly different. “We believe the money can be better spent on research and testing in areas more concentrated on harness racing,” USTA President Phil Langley stressed. “We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs. Trying to fit them together makes little sense.” “We work closely with the USTA,” confirmed HHI President Tom Luchento. “We are in full agreement with the decisions they have made regarding this issue.” The USTA, with the combined support of Harness Horsemen International and Harness Tracks of America, will ask RCI to maintain the current rules in effect for Standardbreds, instead of having one set of model rules for two breeds with significantly different requirements. by Kim Rinker for HHI

The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) proposed model medication rules on Wednesday. In a separate unanimous vote, the committee agreed that the USTA will immediately withdraw its membership from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc. (RMTC). "We have carefully considered the RCI proposals and have come to the conclusion that the physical characteristics of the breeds are significantly different. Trying to fit them together makes little sense," said USTA President Phil Langley. "We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs. "Many safeguards now in use in harness racing would never be acceptable to the more high-strung Thoroughbreds, including Lasix barns, two- to four-hour paddock times and racing on a weekly basis," added Langley. "On the other hand, both the frequency that Standardbreds race and the lack of catastrophic breakdowns in harness racing make the utilization of some therapeutic medications much different between the breeds." As a result, the USTA, with the support of Harness Tracks of America (HTA), will ask RCI to maintain the current rules in effect for Standardbreds instead of having one set of model rules for two breeds with significantly different requirements. "After studying these proposed rule changes, it is apparent to us that they are entirely focused on the needs of Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds," concluded Langley. The USTA supports uniform medical medication policies, but thinks that they need to be customized for each breed. "We want to make it very clear the USTA supports uniform rules," said Langley, "but we strongly believe they should be by breed. Things like blood doping, out- of-competition testing, EPO and Shock Wave Therapy are high on the list of USTA research projects." In other action, it was determined that the USTA will immediately withdraw from RMTC. During the last 10 years, the harness racing industry has supported the RMTC with more than $1 million in contributions. "While we applaud the intentions of the RMTC, we also feel that their efforts concentrate on the Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds," explained Langley. "We believe that the money can be better spent on research and testing in areas more concentrated on harness racing." by Dan Leary for USTA

The Racing Commissioners International Regulatory Attorneys Committee has advanced a proposal to enhance penalties for harness racing trainers with multiple drug violations similar to the approach taken by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that imposes an additional penalty to an underlying violation based on multiple offenses.

Reports of federal legislation to be introduced next week have raised concerns that the bill being considered would weaken the current anti-doping program in horse racing.

The Board of Directors of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) has voted to direct its committees to develop a 'One Strike, You're Out' proposal for those licensees found to be responsible for putting substances in horses that endanger the horse.

At the most recent United States Trotting Association annual meeting in February, USTA President Phil Langley appointed a committee of harness racing horsemen and track operators to study drug testing and to investigate what the industry can do to improve testing procedures, including providing more financial support.

Standardbred racing regulators from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware said that they would work to harmonize regional harness racing rules and explore implementation of time-based limits on medication administration following a meeting at the Meadowlands prompted by calls for uniformity by Meadowlands operator Jeff Gural.

Whether controversial harness racing trainer Lou Pena is guilty or not some of the United States best conditioners are now worried and looking over their shoulders in light of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board (NYSRWB) last week suspending Pena for 1,700 equine drug violations in nearly 700 races.

Last week, Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Chair William Koester announced the appointment of Alan Leavitt of Kentucky as the Chair of their Standardbred Racing Committee. Leavitt, a member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, currently serves as a Kentucky racing commissioner, a board member for both the United States Trotting Association and Hambletonian Society, and is a successful Standardbred owner and breeder.

Racing Commissioners International Chair William Koester of Ohio has announced the appointment of several new committee chairs in an effort to expand the association's efforts affecting a number of aspects of the harness racing industry.

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