The New York Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of trainer Lou Pena and in the process rejected the various arguments made by the NYS Gaming Commission in their appeal of an October 2 decision where the Supreme Court ordered the state to dismiss all Pena charges. Pena attorney Andrew Turro explained the decision in that the court “determined that the Gaming Commission is not entitled to take any action with respect to all charges that previously had been dismissed on Constitutional grounds.” Turro continued to say, “We believe the Court’s determination is correct and consistent with the law and we are gratified that Lou Pena can continue to train horses and pursue his livelihood.” In the latest – and perhaps final – of all rulings that have favored Pena, this one specifically took into consideration the findings of the state appointed Hearing Officer from a three-day administrative hearing from August 2012. Speaking to a grateful and relieved Pena, the trainer said “I now just want to be reinstated (everywhere) and be like a normal person I was before. I want to get back to work and it hasn’t been easy with a cloud hanging over my head everywhere I go.” This has been a long road for Pena since his abrupt suspension in May 2012. Says Pena, “I hope this is now over; I just want this whole fight to be over with because I’m still not even sure how I got into this position. Someone decided to run with whatever they chose to convict me of. There’s obviously animosity and the state has their right to investigate and request information from me – that’s their standing – but if I comply with the rules and have done everything asked then I think I should be handed back the baton and say go ahead, run.” Since Pena’s initial reinstatement this past February he has been racing primarily at the Pennsylvania tracks of Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah’s Philadelphia. However, both of those tracks will shortly be closing for the winter which presents a potential issue for Pena. “Obviously I still don’t have many blessings to go to many racetracks but I will apply out and hopefully go somewhere and race,” said Pena. While Pena has had recent starters racing in New York at Saratoga, Yonkers still remains an unknown. “I really hope I can now get back at Yonkers because I loved racing there; Yonkers was always a good track to me,” said Pena. “I couldn’t race at the other New York tracks (Tioga, Vernon) due to a conflict with the owner (Jeff Gural). It’s his track and property and he can do what he wants, but here’s the thing: I never broke any rules. I’ve never been to his track and broke a rule because I’ve never even been allowed. I actually tried to meet with him once and ironically enough I got suspended the very day that he gave me an appointment to go see him in person in his New York City office.” When asked if he would still be willing to meet with Gural, Pena replied “Absolutely I would meet with him, absolutely. I would have nothing but pleasure to at least meet him in person and introduce myself to him.” Pena concluded by saying that, “I hope today’s ruling opens doors for me in the near future and that I’m not perceived as a criminal or a bad guy. I haven’t had any problems or issues with recklessness and have done everything asked of me when defending myself against these allegations. It’s time for everyone to move on and I can get back to work.” By, Brett Sturman Courtesy of RACING BEARD
Australian Crime Commission and Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner to work together on integrity issues The Australian Crime Commission and the Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which establishes an unprecedented platform for cooperation and information sharing. The agreement is the first of its kind with a State or Territory racing integrity body and is a major step towards meeting the risks of crime and corruption with a united response. Acting Australian Crime Commission Chief Executive Officer Paul Jevtovic and Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna met in the Australian Crime Commission’s Melbourne office to sign the agreement today. Mr Jevtovic said the partnership resulted from an approach by the Racing Integrity Commissioner to the Crime Commission earlier this year. “This pioneering agreement enables us to work cooperatively on matters of mutual interest including the disruption and prevention of organised crime in the racing industry,” Mr Jevtovic said. This agreement is reflective of the Crime Commission’s responsibilities under the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 and allows the racing industry and law enforcement to come together to address issues of criminality in the racing industry. Mr Perna said the agreement recognises the importance of industry bodies and law enforcement working together to enhance public confidence in Victorian racing. “The MOU with the Crime Commission is a significant step in sharing information between racing and law enforcement. I welcome the formalisation of what is already an excellent working relationship with the Commission” Mr Perna said. The Australian Crime Commission is developing further agreements of this type with various state bodies, among them the Office of the Director of Racing Tasmania, and Racing and Wagering Western Australia. “The signing of this agreement reinforces the need for the Commission and regulatory agencies within the States and Territories to work together on those areas where serious and organised crime has the potential to intersect with the Australian public,” Mr Jevtovic said. Media enquiries ACC Media team Phone: 02 6243 6843 Mobile: 0409 603 637 Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner Phone: 03 8684 7776 firstname.lastname@example.org www.racingintegrity.vic.gov.au Level 26, 121 Exhibition Street Melbourne Victoria 3000 T: 03 8684 7776 F: 03 8684 7778 Integrity Hotline Phone (anonymous) 1300 227 225 Integrity Hotline Fax (anonymous) 03 9882 4480 E: email@example.com www.racingintegrity.vic.gov.au
Most recently it was discovered that on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, the State of New York Supreme Court in the County of Schenectady has rendered its decision in the case of Lou Pena and the State of New York. The decision was to direct the State of New York to dismiss all charges against him. Pena, who has had limited racing opportunities the last two years, currently shows 2,836 career training victories and earnings of $23,408,104 from the horses his has trained. He was currently training and racing his horses primarily at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania. So far in 2013 he has sent out 228 starters with 49 wins, a UDR rating of .341 and earnings of $504,230. No word yet if Pena will be able to return to racing at Yonkers Raceway or the Meadowlands when it reopens in November. The Supreme Court Justice, Honorable Vincent J. Reilly, Jr.’s letter of decision is posted below in a pdf format. Click here to read - Pena decision_10-1-13.PDF By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
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
Trainers who innocently take a panadol on race night risk contaminating their horses and getting a positive swab under the racing industry's controversial super senstitive drug testing regime. That warning came after a judicial hearing in Auckland yesterday when it was revealed how Waikato pacer Precious Mach almost certainly came to test positive to the human pain medication Tramadol. Cambridge trainer Nicky Chilcott told how she was flabbergasted when told her pacer, after testing clear in New Zealand, was found on restesting in Hong Kong to be positive to her own back pain pills. The horse had not been treated for any injury before she won a race at Auckland on April 27, 2012, no equine preparation contained Tramadol, and her pills, kept only at her home and in her driving bag, had never been near the stable. But evidence was given that an infinitesmal amount of the drug most likely entered the horse's system when Chilcott put her hands in the horse's mouth to fix her tongue tie immediately before the race. And in supporting evidence from Kentucky authority Professor Thomas Tobin, it was revealed that contamination from human medication was an emerging problem worldwide - because of new, sophisticated testing - with most of the cases traced back to tongue ties. ''Never in a million years would you think you could do that,'' Chilcott said afterwards, relieved when told by Judicial Control Authority (JCA) committee chairman Geoff Hall that she faced only a fine, not a suspension or disqualification as had been sought by the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU). ''People must take open pills all the time at the races and this highlights how careful you have to be. I'm over the top now. I wash my hands every time after taking my pills.'' Chilcott told how she suffered from chronic back pain, couldn't get out of bed in the mornings without taking Tramadol, and 99 times out of 100 took some on racenight. The only logical explanation for the contamination on April 27 was that she inadvertently got some of the pills' contents on her hands from a damaged blister pack of pills. ''I'm just so thankful that I took some of them back to the chemist or they'd have thought I was making up the story,'' Chilcott said. An affidavit from Duke St Chemist pharmacist Grant Clayton confirmed Chilcott returned a packet of damaged Tramadol capsules some time near the end of April. The foil was open and the contents of the decaying capsules exposed with the gelatin casing damaged either by water or heat. Chilcott's counsel Murray Branch told Hall and fellow JCA member Murray McKechnie that rather than the high degree of negligence argued by RIU lawyer Chris Lange, this was an outcome which could not reasonably have been anticipated. ''No one could ever have suspected that a drug used in humans could be transferred to a horse in this way. The New Zealand lab couldn't even pick it up. It was the minutest of traces,'' Branch said. Tobin's evidence said the 100 picograms per millilitre of the metabolite O-desmethyltramadol detected in Hong Kong was equivalent to one second in your life if you were 320 years old. One picogram is one part per trillion. ''To my knowledge it is the lowest concentration of O-desmethyltramadol ever reported in a horse. There is no possibility whatsoever of a pharmacological effect on the racing performance [of the horse].'' It was also 500 times less than the now well established 50 ng/ml cut-off point set by the British Horseracing Authority for morphine metabolites in urine. Tobin said, in another illustration of how tiny the amount detected was, airline pilots could legally fly with a cocaine concentration 1000 times higher than the Tramadol found in Hong Kong's exceptionally sensitive analysis. Tramadol was poorly absorbed orally in the horse (3 per cent) and experiments he and his colleagues at Michigan State University undertook showed no statistically significant changes at increasing doses. Harness Racing New Zealand veterinary consultant Andrew Grierson said while few studies had been done on Tramadol and it was not his field of expertise, he did not agree with some of Tobin's statements. It was impossible to tell from one urine sample, how much of the drug had been given to a horse. ''There is good evidence showing certain opioids of this group can have an excitement effect on horses at extremely low doses,'' he said. ''In my opinion it cannot be inferred that when a very low level is detected, it is not likely to have an effect.'' Chilcott pleaded guilty to breaching the prohibited substance rule after the RIU dropped the more serious charge of administration, Branch critical of that charge having being laid in the first place. ''There is not one scrap of evidence to support it,'' Branch said. Hall said he would quantify Chilcott's fine after submissions on costs at the end of next week. Courtesy of Barry Lichter - © Fairfax NZ News
Harness Racing NSW has been advised by the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that the prohibited substance capsaicin has been detected in the post race urine samples taken from • ONETHINGFORCERTAIN after it raced and won Race 2, the C91.3FM Pace (1,609 metres) at TABCORP Park Menangle on Tuesday 18 June 2013 and Race 6 the Mach Beauty Pace (1,609 metres) at TABCORP Park Menangle on Saturday 6 July 2013. • FRANKIE VALLEY after it raced and won Race 6 the Paceway Sky Lounge Two Year Pace (1,720 metres) at Penrith on 18 July 2013. The findings in relation to ONETHINGFORCERTAIN have been confirmed by the Racing Analytical Services Laboratory (RASL) in Melbourne. Confirmation analysis has not been conducted on the FRANKIE VALLEY sample at this stage. An inquiry into these findings will be conducted on Thursday 29 August 2013 at 2pm at the offices of Harness Racing NSW - 22 Meredith Street Bankstown. In light of evidence forthcoming from a stable inspection conducted by Harness Racing NSW Officials on Wednesday 31 July 2013, Mr Munday pursuant to AHRR 183 (a) (b) and (c) will not be permitted to enter horses owned or trained by him in any race. Further, Mr Munday will not be permitted to drive in any race or trial. These embargoes will remain until the completion of the inquiry or otherwise directed by the Stewards. Harness Racing New South Wales
Harness Racing NSW has been advised by the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that the prohibited substance capsaicin has been detected in the previously frozen post race urine sample taken from BO SPARTA following its win in Race 9, The Wards Accounting Group Pace (1,609 metres) at TABCORP Park Menangle on Tuesday 27 November 2012. This finding had been confirmed by the Racing Analytical Services Laboratory (RASL) in Melbourne. An inquiry into this finding will be conducted on Thursday 29 August 2013 at 11am at the offices of Harness Racing NSW - 22 Meredith Street Bankstown. Harness Racing New South Wales
Racing Services Tasmania Stewards have concluded an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding an urine sample taken from PRISONER at the Carrick Park Pacing Club meeting conducted on 15 March 2013 which upon analysis by Racing Analytical Services Limited had shown the presence of Amphetamine. The inquiry had previously been convened on 18 June 2013 and 2 July 2013 and during the course of all inquiries evidence was tendered by – Mr Paul Zahra – Scientific Manager – Racing Analytical Services Ltd. Mr John Keledjian – General Manager – Australian Forensic Laboratory Dr R C E Cust – Veterinary Surgeon Mr Adrian Collins – Licensed Driver (RST) Mr Andrew Jordan – Licensed Trainer (RST) Mr Rodney Plunkett – Trainer of PRISONER Mr Plunkett was represented by Legal Counsellor Mr Greg Richardson. Mr Plunkett pleaded guilty to a charge under the provision of AHR 190(1) and (2). The particulars being that as the trainer of PRISONER he presented the colt to race at the Carrick Park Pacing Club on 15 March 2013 when it was found to have upon analysis a prohibited substance namely Amphetamine in the urine sample taken from it subsequent to winning the Carrick Caltex Roadhouse Pace. After taking into account submissions relating to penalty and also when assessing penalty Stewards considered the following – Mr Plunkett’s guilty plea Mr Plunkett’s forthright evidence throughout the inquiry Mr Plunkett’s time in the harness industry That Mr Plunkett’s sole income is derived from harness racing Mr Plunkett’s limited opportunities given his age, to gain employment outside of racing within this state. That this was Mr Plunkett’s second prohibited substance offence over a 20 year period The use of Amphetamine has no legitimate place within a racing environment That penalties should act as a deterrent to all industry participants to ensure the integrity of the industry is maintained. Mr Plunkett was disqualified for a period of 12 months commencing immediately and to expire midnight 25 July 2014. Mr Plunkett also pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of AHR 190B(1) and 190B(4) for failing to maintain a treatment book and was fined $200. Acting under the provisions of AHR 195 PRISONER was disqualified from the race and the placings will be amended accordingly. Courtesy of Tas Racing
Trainers stung by bicarb allegations want changes in the RIU testing. New Zealand Sunday Star Times Racing editor Barry Lichter investigates TRAINERS UNDER investigation after their charges returned high bicarbonate levels are adamant the Racing Integrity Unit must change the way it uses its new hand-held blood testing unit. Harness racing officials were stunned when the scourge of the 1990s looked like it had returned with positives declared at three successive Sunday meetings in Canterbury. @ At Blenheim on June 23, hobby trainer Neville Gorrie’s maiden Mattjestic Rebeck tested high after running third @ At Rangiora on June 30, Valhalla was over the threshold when running last for highly respected amateur driver Gavin Cook and @ At Timaru on July 7, Wally’s Girl was over after winning for trainers Jamie Keast and Henriette Westrum. Cook, stunned by the result and 100 per cent sure he did nothing to cause it, wants to know why the RIU is not operating the new i-STAT device as it was first touted, when former RIU boss Cameron George promoted it in May last year as the way to drug-free racing. The advantage of the unit is that it can quickly analyse a drop of blood, so officials know before a race, not days afterwards, if any horses have high readings. Trainers can then be given the option of scratching, protecting punters. But none of the trainers were given that option and stewards were secretive about the levels. Cook, the 2008 world amateur driving champion, said had he known Valhalla had returned a level of 39 when first tested, he would certainly have pulled him out of the Rangiora race. Cook said he actually saw the number 39 on the side of stipe Kylie Williams’ clipboard after the first test and asked if that was his horse’s level. Williams replied no, and quickly hid it from view, explaining how they did not reveal levels because the confirmatory lab test was usually down a point or two on that detected on the hand device, because of a number of variables, including temperature fluctuations. ‘‘My level was eventually declared at 37.3, but I was never provided with that information so they [the RIU] were complicit in their failure to protect the public. ‘‘I could have minimised the damage to my reputation by removing the horse from the race. I would still have been charged but it would have been viewed in a different light because the damage was minimised.’’ Cook said he’d been told stewards would not scratch a horse themselves based on the hand-held reading, because it might leave them liable to action if the lab tests later came back with a bicarb level under the 35 threshold. He likens it to a motorist returning a positive breath test, but being told by police to go on their way, with nothing done until the lab results of a blood test came back. ‘‘We should be told ‘here are the results, if you want to race, you understand the implications’. I knew I’d done nothing so if the level had been 35, knowing the lab test would be lower, I might have felt comfortable in still running.’’ Cook was also critical of the RIU not taking further tests, say 90 minutes after Valhalla raced, which was common procedure in the US, to determine if the level was still high. This too, was signalled by George in 2012 as one of the advantages of the hand-held unit. Cook said he now has a lot of apologies to offer to fellow trainers, who have pleaded innocence after high bicarb tests. ‘‘I’ve always sat on the sideline and thought there’s no way you can get that high a level without tubing a horse. But I now know that’s not true. ‘‘I’ve never stomach tubed a horse in my life, I don’t know how to. It actually scares me – I’d probably stick it in the wrong hole and kill the horse.’’ Cook said while he would have to deal with the stigma of a high bicarb, he had done nothing different with Valhalla than with all his other horses, whose bicarb levels tested between 31.5 and 33. ‘‘I’m competing at a level where that sort of thing [milkshaking] is not warranted. I’m in the shitter grade with below average horses.’’ Valhalla had been in Cook’s stable for only two weeks since he drove him to win at Oamaru when trained by Geoff and Jude Knight. ‘‘I’ve since found out that the Knights had the same trouble with this horse soon after they got him. He returned a high level, not high enough to be charged, but they were extremely nervous about it. He never tested high again. ‘‘I can only put it down to the stress of a change of environment, the horse does get himself wound up. He was very stressed when I got him to the track that day too.’’ Cook, who floated the horse to Rangiora, later learned the eight-year-old was used to travelling side on in a big horse truck. But worse, he loaded him on the left, which he hated. ‘‘He was scrambling and nearly falling the whole way . I slowed right down but he arrived all sweaty and shaking. ‘‘He felt like a completely different horse in the race, galloped out the back of the gate and didn’t show any gate speed or zip. ‘‘At Oamaru I went to the line with horse in hand and didn’t have to ask him for an effort.’’ Cook said when he had blood tests taken the day after Rangiora his vet reported he’d never seen a horse with a higher haemoglobin level. ‘‘That means he was tied up, and he was dehydrated as well.’’ He thought he had Valhalla back on an even keel again when he took him in to Addington for further tests last Friday night and he tested between 31 and 33. ‘‘The horse was calm and the results were all fine. That gave me a lot of confidence until they told me the levels were 36 in the lab. ‘I’m confused and I think it’s starting to confuse them too.’’ Cook agreed the i-STAT unit was great as a screening device, saving the industry money by reducing the number of lab tests needed. But Star-Times investigations have revealed that each iSTAT test is actually more expensive than the same test in the laboratory. Only one of the machines is in use in the country, and its findings have no validity under the rules. SCOURGE OF RACING The illegal practice of ‘‘milkshaking’’ racehorses surfaced in the early 1990s. Unscrupulous trainers would stomach tube their horses on raceday with bicarbonate of soda. It had the effect of delaying the onset of lactic acid in the muscles so horses could run faster for longer. Northern trainer Neil Brady spent 10 years and $250,000 trying to prove the testing system was flawed. In 2001, instead of testing an entire field and scratching horses five points over the mean, a threshold was set. Deliberate cases now are rare but rogue results continue to cause grief. READINGS UP AND DOWN LIKE A YOYO AMBERLEY TRAINER Jamie Keast doesn’t have a lot of faith in the bicarbonate testing regime after his experience at Timaru earlier this month. It came as no surprise when stipe Kylie Williams took blood from his trotter Wally’s Girl on July 7 – his mare had been tested at both her two previous starts, three nights earlier at Addington, and also at Nelson in June. When Williams came back for a second test 25 minutes after the first, he became a little concerned, but proceeded out on to the track and won the race. ‘‘As I came back Kylie approached me and said ‘you’re fine, the level has dropped’. But she wouldn’t tell me what it was. ‘‘I went home and thought all was good but then a few days later they told me the horse was high.’’ The first test taken on the iSTAT hand-held device read 35, and retested at 35.7 in the laboratory. Inexplicably, the second test on the iSTAT was 34 but the lab reported it as 37. ‘‘We can’t work out how there can be such a discrepancy,’’ said Keast, who has sought the advice of experts. ‘‘They tell me the iSTAT should me more precise, if anything, because it is taken instantly with fewer variables, whereas the lab test is done days later after travel and temperature changes.’’ Yet in both the samples taken from Gavin Cook’s horse Valhalla, and Neville Gorrie’s Mattjestic Rebeck, the level at the lab was lower. Keast said it was with some trepidation that he took Wally’s Girl to Addington to race last Friday night. He had made sure she was well hydrated, as advised by his experts, but had had no time to guard against another factor which he believed caused the high level. ‘‘I don’t want to say too much about it yet – we’re pretty sure we know but being able to prove it is another thing.’’ Keast said he had set the mare for the Golden Girls Final and, knowing he would lose his heat win at Timaru, he had to line up at Addington. Wally’s Girl tested at 33 and 30, but Keast said he had no idea what that would translate to in the lab. ‘‘When they turned up last week and tested her resting in the paddock, she was 32, yet the lab recording was 35.1. Keast said Wally’s Girl, while excitable, was nowhere near as bad as Gorrie’s horse Mattjestic Rebeck. ‘‘I’ve known Neville for years and there’s no way he’s done anything. ‘‘If they’d gone to Neville and said you were 35 on the first day and we’re going to test you again, he could have scratched and taken his horse home to check it out.’’ That’s exactly what Gorrie says he would have done. He’s even too frightened to race the horse again, until he gets to the bottom of it. ‘‘I haven’t worked the horse for a couple of weeks and I didn’t eat for a week worrying about this,’’ Gorrie said. ‘‘Everyone around here knows I’m not a drugs cheat. I can swear to God I’ve done nothing.’’ Gorrie, who has pottered round with horses for nearly 30 years, but officially trained for only the last five, says he took extra precautions on the second day at Marlborough. ‘‘My horse gets really wound up and sweats excessively and after he got really worked up on the first day I put him into a wee pen, and geared him up at the last minute to keep him calm as long as possible.’’ It made no difference. Mattjestic Rebeck tested 37 on the iSTAT and was confirmed at 36.3 in the lab. Keast said advice from experts he had consulted was that the vials of blood should be put on ice when transported to the laboratory. Star-Times investigations suggest that is not done. While samples are kept in fridges on racedays, and stored in fridges at the homes of stewards before being couriered to labs, they travel in normal packaging. HIGH BICARBS A WORRY BUT NO NEED TO PANIC, SAY INDUSTRY REGULATORS INITIAL INVESTIGATIONS by the Racing Integrity Unit have found no common denominator among the three horses who have tested positive to bicarbonate in recent weeks. And, while Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell says it is concerning, there are no alarm bells going off just yet at harness headquarters in Christchurch. RIU general manager Mike Godber said while five recent caffeine positives in greyhounds have been traced to the Australian product Canine EPO, no feed additive had been implicated in the harness code so far. ‘‘Sometimes there is no pattern to these things. In the first six months of the RIU in 2011 there were 16 positives. In the next 12 months there were only eight. ‘‘It would be nice not to have more than one or two a year but there is nothing particularly out of the ordinary here.’’ The last person charged under the bicarbonate rule was Peter Scaife, who was fined $2000 after Innes Lad tested positive at 37.2 when 10th at Manawatu in February, 2012. During the case one scientific paper referred to said with a bicarb level of 37, the chance of an innocent trainer being convicted was less than two million to one. An appeal by the RIU that the penalty was inadequate, and Scaife should be disqualified for four months, was dismissed. Godber said the three recent positives were the first since the hand-held unit was introduced little more than 12 months ago. Between 2500 and 3000 bicarb tests were done in a year in the harness code and up to 1000 a year in thoroughbreds, on top of 9000 urine tests in all three codes. While it was originally proposed that trainers would be given the option to scratch their horses after a high iSTAT test, Godber said that was when it was believed the hand-held units would be calibrated the same as those in the laboratory. Experience since, both here and in Australia, had shown levels could be significantly different, and New Zealand had followed the Australians in deciding not to charge trainers on the first screening test. ‘‘But giving trainers the option of scratching is something we will now consider as part of these investigations.’’ Meanwhile, Rennell reported that, after a review of the bicarbonate statistics, which showed an average level of 30.7 mmol/l over the last 12 years, the board decided last week not to tamper with the present threshold level of 35. It had been proposed that New Zealand raise the level to 36 to come into line with the international standard, but the board believed the present level sent the right signals to the industry. Godber said to his knowledge no trainer had been charged anyway under a level of 36.2, because of an inbuilt margin of error. Under HRNZ guidelines on graduated penalties for TCO2 offences, levels between 36.2 and 37.2 can be expected to incur a fine of $500; between 37.3 and 38.5 it rises to $2000 and/or a suspension of three months; and for levels above 38.5 a fine of $5000 and/or disqualification of up to six months. JULY 22: GORRIE FRIGHTENED TO RACE HIS HORSE AGAIN Rangiora hobby trainer Neville Gorrie is too frightened to race his horse again until he can solve the riddle of how it came to return a high bicarbonate test - and he says a harsh penalty could be enough to see him give the game away. Gorrie is one of three trainers whose horses have tested high in three successive weeks in Canterbury, his pacer Mattjestic Rebeck returning a level of 36.3mmol/litre before running third at Blenheim on June 23. The Sunday Star-Times revealed the Racing Integrity Unit is also investigating high bicarb tests from horses trained by fellow Canterbury trainers Gavin Cook and Jamie Keast at the two following Sunday meetings at Rangiora and Timaru. But while Harness Racing New Zealand is concerned at the spate of high bicarbs, after the practice of milkshaking almost brought harness racing to its knees in the 1990s, it says it is too soon to conclude the problem has resurfaced. Cook, one of the country’s most respected amateur drivers, and a former world champion, said he now understood the plight of previous trainers who had sworn their innocence and he categorically denied giving Valhalla anything when he ran last at Rangiora. Keast has serious concerns over the validity of the testing, given the second test from his mare Wally’s Girl at Timaru fell to 34 on the RIU’s hand held device but when it was retested at the laboratory had somehow jumped to 37. Gorrie says he is determined to get to the bottom of why his seven start maiden tested high on both days at the Marlborough meeting, narrowly escaping breaking the threshold twice. ‘‘I haven’t worked the horse for a couple of weeks and I didn’t eat for a week worrying about this,’’ Gorrie said. ‘‘Everyone around here knows I’m not a drugs cheat. I can swear to God I’ve done nothing.’’ Gorrie, who has pottered round with horses he breeds for nearly 30 years, but officially trained for only the last five, bagging two winners, says he took extra precautions on the second day of the Marlborough meeting after his horse’s level was raised when second on the opening day. ‘‘My horse gets really wound up and sweats excessively - he’s completely different from any of the hundreds of horses I’ve worked with in lots of leading stables. ‘‘The sweat used to drip off him. He has got better but after he got really worked up on the first day I put him into a wee pen on the second day and geared him up at the last minute to keep him calm as long as possible. ‘‘The first test they took at 10.30am on the second day came back 35 and they took another one just before the race which was 37 on the hand held machine.’’ But Gorrie said, like Cook with his own horse nervous horse Valhalla, he was never told the levels on the day or given the option of scratching Mattjestic Rebeck. When the hand held i-STAT device was introduced a little more than 12 months ago, the then RIU boss Cameron George declared its great benefit was trainers could be given the choice of pulling their horses out, thus protecting punters. Gorrie said after the high level was reported the next week, he removed all the salts from his feed and gave the horse only hard feed for the next five days. ‘‘I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be the salts though. Even though I mix my own I had them tested by my vet a couple of years ago and they were fine.’’ When Mattjestic Rebeck was taken across the road to the Rangiora course and tested again, after nearly a week on plain feed. his levels were consistently high at 35 and 36. Because the horse was sweating badly again, Gorrie was told to take him home where he still tested at 35. Gorrie then asked the RIU to take the horse away and conduct more tests, and a week later the levels fluctuated between 32 and 35, he said. Gorrie said he knew RIU officials had interviewed his Marlborough driver Jamie Keast, whose own horse Wally’s Girl tested high when winning two weeks later at Timaru. ‘‘But Jamie had nothing to do with my horse up there, I know he never touched him.’’ Gorrie said he’d since heard of another frustrated trainer who had shot two horses who were returning high levels. Another trainer had advised him to try giving his horse two preliminaries to calm him down on raceday. ‘‘But you couldn’t do that with this horse. A woman I know has a natural herbal product I’m going to try but I can’t race him if his levels might still be high.’’ Gorrie said in researching previous bicarb cases he’d discovered one judge described how the system would inevitably catch a few innocent trainers whose horses’ bicarb levels fell outside the bell curve normal distribution of the horse population. Gorrie says that isn’t fair and if the fine comes to several thousand dollars as was now being suggested, ‘‘that will tip me over the edge.’’ RIU general manager Mike Godber said the three recent bicarb positives were the first since the hand held unit was introduced a little more than 12 months ago. While it was originally proposed that trainers would be given the option to scratch their horses after a high iSTAT test, Godber said that was when it was believed the hand held units would be calibrated the same as those in the laboratory. Experience since both here and in Australia had shown levels could be significantly different and New Zealand had followed the Australians in deciding not to charge trainers on the first screening test. ‘‘But giving trainers the option of scratching is something we will now consider as part of these investigations.’’ by Barry Lichter (SUNDAY STAR TIMES)
The makers of a promising drug against laminitis say they are hoping to get the product to market in six months. Willowcroft Pharm Inc. is seeking Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Laminil, an injectable drug treatment for acute and active chronic laminitis that inhibits the inflammatory response and the laminitis cascade. It has proven effective in treating both acute laminitis and active chronic laminitis. The active ingredient of Laminil is already approved for use in humans by the FDA, and has been approved for investigational drug testing in horses. It is being tested in top veterinary facilities such as the Dubai Equine Hospital and the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky. Laminil’s developer, Charlie Owen, told Horsetalk he had received results back on the drug’s use in about 110 horses, involving some 220 hooves. He said the drug delivered significant improvement in 80 per cent or more of cases. Laminil has shown effectiveness with all types of laminitis such as insulin resistance, equine metabolic syndrome, grain overload, grass founder, trauma, and weight-bearing laminitis. “The reaction from owners and veterinarians of those horses was very positive across the board in describing how the horses responded,” Owen said. Owen said the drug reduced the damaging process of inflammation, thus allowing natural healing to take place. If given within 72 hours of a case developing, horses were likely show signs of improvement within 72 hours of receiving the drug. If horses had been affected by the condition for a month, it could take two weeks to show signs of improvement, he said. Owen said data had already been submitted to the FDA and he was hoping for approval in about six months. It was being progressed through a fast-track program known as “minor use, major species”. Many vets said they wanted to continue receiving shipments of the drug to treat future cases, Owen said. “At the same time, we experienced a lot of frustration over not being able to meet demand. “In the days following our announcement that we needed laminitic horses for clinical testing, we were flooded with calls from owners and vets of laminitic horses around the world and simply couldn’t manage to serve that kind of volume at this stage. In one day, we received 97 calls. “We also heard some very sad stories of horses being put down because they deteriorated too much in the hours before the shipment of Laminil arrived. “If the drug had been on the market and on vets’ shelves, perhaps these cases might have had better outcomes.” That aside, Owen said one of the challenges was a lack of awareness about the drug. “Many laminitis researchers don’t mention it when talking to the media about current research. “While we’ve worked hard to raise Laminil’s profile in the last two months, we still feel as if many owners and vets are unaware of Laminil or are being told by researchers that this drug is just a flash in the pan and won’t make it in the long run. “This is simply not the case. “Two world-respected equine hospitals are continuing to test the drug on horses because they’re pleased with results and they’ve asked to continue.” “We’ve wrapped up the rest of our testing because we have enough data. The next step is presenting our results to the FDA.” The company was approaching investors now to meet the costs of getting the drug through the regulatory process. Laminitis has several triggers, but the end result is the same: inflammation. This leads to destruction of the delicate laminae that connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone inside the hoof. The disease has ended the life of such great racehorses as Secretariat and Barbaro. About 3 to 4 percent of the estimated nine million horses in the US will develop a case of laminitis annually. Worldwide, there are hundreds of thousands of cases of laminitis per year. Laminitis is considered the No. 2 killer of horses, behind colic, and cases can be notoriously difficult to treat. Laminil is described as a mast cell stabilizer that inhibits inflammatory mediators and other chemicals from being released from the mast cell in excess. When the inflammatory mediators are not released in excess, then the laminitis cascade is broken/halted, and the horse is able to heal and recover. (reprinted with permission by www.horsetalk.co.nz)
The New Zealand Racing Laboratory Services has advised the Racing Integrity Unit of an elevated TCO2 result from the blood sample taken from the horse Wally’s Girl following its win in Race 6, the Breeder’s Golden Girls Mobile Trot at the Timaru Harness Racing Club’s meeting on Sunday 7 July 2013. Wally’s Girl is trained by Mr J T Keast & Ms H Westrum. Wally's Girl's high TCO2 is the third in the last month, the first was the Neville Gorrie trained Mattjestic Rebeck who return one when finishing third at Blenhiem on the 27th of June while the Gavin Cook trained Valhalla also returned an elevated level when unplaced at Rangiora on the 30th of June. RIU Officials are conducting inquiries into all three cases.
Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have received information from Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) regarding the detection of hyoscine and atropine in analysed swab samples. Both of these substances are classified as prohibited substances under the Australian Rules of Harness Racing. Trainers affected have been notified and investigations are ongoing. HRV Stewards have collaborated with the Racing Victoria Limited (RVL) Compliance Assurance Team in conducting this investigation as RVL Stewards have also been notified of low level traces of hyoscine and atropine (below reporting levels) being detected by RASL. Early information suggests that a possible explanation of the laboratory findings is the ingestion of material from the Datura species, which includes the Thornapple plant, and the Brugmansia species which includes the Angel’s Trumpet flower. Trainers are therefore advised to be aware of suspicious plant material which may be in hay, grain mixes, feed additives and the like. Trainers are also advised to search the internet for further details and images of the Datura and Brugmansia plants and check stable surroundings for the presence of unidentified or suspicious flora. Trainers are advised to regularly check their horses’ environments and feedstuffs for the presence of unidentified plant material as a number of plants, such as tea plants (caffeine) or poppy plants (morphine), may contain prohibited substances. Trainers are also reminded that it is their ultimate responsibility to ensure horses are presented to race free of prohibited substances. Should trainers have any questions about this notice or wish to report the detection of any suspicious plant material, please call the Integrity Department on 8378 0200. Harness Racing Victoria
A one-time successful harness racing trainer whose career was ruined by a doping scandal has been jailed for 10 years for trafficking the drug ice.
Cambridge harness racing trainer Nicky Chilcott has been convicted on five charges but discharged without penalty, the judge rejecting entirely any suggestion that she is a drugs cheat as depicted in the media.
If you decide to drop a claim slip in with the judges, it's fair to say that you've done all your homework first. You've looked at pedigree; studied past performances; watched how the horse makes it around the oval for several weeks and generally have the feel that you can get him to be competitive in a higher class in rapid fashion.
After covering some of the biggest drugs stories in harness racing in a career of more than 30 years, Fairfax Media Racing Editor BARRY LICHTER found himself in the middle of one he'd always dreaded.