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Since the indictment of more than two dozen thoroughbred and harness racing trainers, assistants, veterinarians, and pharmacists in connection with a horse doping ring this March, rumors have swirled that more names could be forthcoming in connection with the federal investigation. Speaking at a status conference for the case on Tuesday morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Adams told U.S. District Judge Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil that a superseding indictment could be around the corner, but did not provide details as to the timing. “We are looking seriously at superseding indictments,” said Adams. “For the moment, and I made this point at least to some defense counsel previously, the nature of what we're looking at is largely in the same kind of criminal conduct as what is in the current indictment. We're looking at expanding timeframes for certain of the conspiracies. We're looking at potentially adding different statutory charges with respect to certain of the defendants. What I do not anticipate for the moment is that those superseding indictments, if and when they come, would require the production of some substantial large set of materials not already produced to date or already in the queue of things we expect to produce.” A superseding indictment is one which replaces an existing indictment, and could add charges against already-named defendants and/or could name new defendants. Vyskocil reminded Adams that the court would not hold things up while the government finishes its investigation. Adams said he understood and that he would not ask to hold up the proceedings for that reason. The charges on the current indictments, which names former top trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, among others, focus on drug adulteration, misbranding, and conspiracy. The indictments claim a network of horsemen, veterinarians and pharmacy reps sold, distributed and used drugs in racehorses for the purpose of performance enhancement. Other than a potential superseding indictment, there are not likely to be many updates in the case until late fall. Currently, attorneys are going through the discovery process, meaning each side is requesting and providing requested evidence in the case. Adams said he believes his office will be able to provide the last of the discovery material requested by defendants by the end of September. Already, the office has provided some 90 gigabytes' worth of data to all defendants in three different volumes, and has fielded 20 additional individual requests. That data includes the results of 30 different search warrants, intercepted phone calls and text messages, geolocation information for various devices, email accounts, file transfer accounts, inventory lists, shipping records, veterinary records, drug promotional and marketing material, and much more. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still extracting data from devices like cell phones and tablets seized from defendants at the time of their arrests. Adams mentioned that labs inside and outside the United States had been asked to conduct testing on samples related to the case, although it was not immediately clear whether that referred to samples of substances seized in searches of pharmacies or biological samples from horses, or both. Those results were not all known to the federal government as of yet, and some defense attorneys expressed a desire to work out some sort of split sampling process where possible, acknowledging there was a finite amount of some samples available to test. After the government produces requested evidence, it is sent to a coordinating discovery attorney for organization and distribution. One defense attorney pointed out that it generally takes the coordinating discovery attorney roughly a month to process large document releases before they are given over to defense counsel, so a late September target for discovery completion means they will get a look at the last of the evidence in early November. Vyskocil scheduled a status conference for Nov. 19. Most participants on the call agreed it would be impractical to set a trial date or motion schedule until the defense has seen all the government's evidence against their clients. Read more about the federal indictments in this March 9 piece from the Paulick Report. By Natalia Ross Reprinted with permission of The Paulick Report

In a bid to limit data used by offshore bookmakers, the New Zealand Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee has proposed that changes be made to the charges imposed for using betting information. The Select Committee introduced more than 30 changes to the Racing Industry Bill when it submitted its report to the House of Parliament, with the legislation only set to be signed into law a month later than originally intended. The Committee outlined plans to work with the three racing codes-New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) and Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ)-to ensure that measures are placed in place to allow offshore bookmakers to pay for the use of New Zealand racing data. Once the law has been codified, the committee suggested that Racing NZ, consisting of the three codes, be established which could assume some of the functions of the codes. The group has also suggested a TAB NZ Board reshuffle. On the recommendation of the codes the TAB is proposed to have three out of seven members appointed. A selection panel was introduced, and the Board ‘s overall required skill set would typically remain consistent with what was previously in the Bill. In a statement, the Racing Industry’s Transition Agency (RITA) said: “There are over 30 areas where the Committee have recommended changes and it will take us some time to work through and understand each of the different proposals. “Our initial view of the Select Committee’s recommendations is that the overall direction and structure of the Bill remains the same as it was before the Committee and is still in line with the direction of the Messara Report. “The TAB will be established as a pure betting, broadcasting and gaming entity, and the Codes will have greater roles and responsibilities for developing and promoting their sport.” By John Stewart Reprinted with permission of Inkedin

It looks like betting on US thoroughbred horse racing helped fill the gap for some sports bettors during the month of April, according to Equibase. Handle fell 24.4% to $639.4 million last month compared to last April, according to the report. But that’s a much lower drop than the decline in races and race days with many tracks still shuttered. Total races fell 71.4% to 746 last month and race days dropped 72.7% to just 85. Equibase typically reports US thoroughbred racing figures on a quarterly basis. It moved to monthly to show the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Horse racing handle per race day skyrockets The most telling stat provided by Equibase is the average horse racing handle per race day for last month. Each race day saw an average of $7.5 million in handle, up 176.5% from the prior year. So while overall handle shows a drop, in reality, these races drew much more betting attention than last year. If the number of race days were equal to last year’s 311, that average handle per race day would equal $2.3 billion in handle for the month. TwinSpires sees ‘significant’ growth TwinSpires, one of the best-known deposit wagering websites in the US, has seen a spike in business since sports began to shut down. Handle grew 8.3% in the first quarter to $329.8 million with active players up 11.6%. Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen during the company’s first-quarter earnings call: “Our TwinSpires business, within the online wagering segment, has grown significantly as more individuals bet online, particularly with so many brick-and-mortar betting outlets closed and, perhaps, with fewer entertainment options in general. Even as the number of racetracks that are actively running races has declined, TwinSpires really capitalized. This has been even more true as we’ve progressed through the second quarter.” That growth really started from March 16 through the end of the month, COO Bill Mudd added. That’s about the time when casinos, tracks and off-track betting facilities began to shutter, forcing bettors online. And it’s also about when most of America realized major sports weren’t returning anytime soon. “But anecdotally, I can say that we’ve picked up a lot of core horse players, but we’ve also picked up a lot of other players now that are playing thoroughbred racing because of all of the sporting events that have been canceled across the world,” Mudd said. Michigan approves ADW deals Michigan will begin licensing advanced deposit wagering operators that want to partner with Northville Downs, which offers harness racing and simulcast betting. Of the three biggest ADW sites operating in the US, two of them – BetAmerica and TwinSpires, both owned by Churchill Downs – already list Michigan as a legal state. TVG, owned by the same parent company as FanDuel, is not currently in Michigan. Operators must pay a $1,000 license fee and provide a plan of operation to the Michigan Gaming Control Board. There’s no timeline for when the first licenses will be approved, but the agency will work “as quickly as possible” to review applications, Communications Specialist Mary Kay Bean said. “Many firms already have licenses in other states, which will help the applicants as we review them,” she added. By Matthew Waters Reprinted with permission of Legal Sports Report

For some people, the federal indictments of over two dozen people in horse racing for drug adulteration and misbranding were a confirmation of long-held suspicions — that racing wasn't as clean as it should be. For Hanover Shoe Farms president and CEO Russell Williams, it was a call to action. Williams is the grandson of Hanover Shoe founder Lawrence Sheppard, who launched the Standardbred operation in Hanover, Penn., when he was a junior partner in the Hanover Shoe Company. The farm burst onto the Standardbred scene in the 1920s and emerged as one of the sport's largest commercial breeders. Hanover Shoe has been the country's top breeder by U.S. Trotting Association figures year after year. He is also the president of the U.S. Trotting Association. As such, the allegations in the indictments, of Standardbred and Thoroughbred trainers doping horses while escaping the detection of pre- and post-race testing, offended Williams deeply. “Here at Hanover Shoe farm, we sell about 230 yearlings, or that's what we're going to sell this year,” said Williams. “We try to raise them right and love them and take good care of them. To send them out into the world to be subjected to the things described in those indictments … it breaks our hearts. “We're going to show them we're not going to say goodbye to them when they leave here. We're going to put this challenge grant down and make some things happen.” To read the full report written by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click here.  

Washington, D.C. –  On Wednesday (April 22), President Trump announced that the Administration would suspend entry of certain “immigrants” into the country for a period of 60 days, citing economic conditions arising from COVID-19.  Fortunately for members of the horse industry who may continue to rely on guest workers under the H-2B and H-2A programs, the restriction will not add to delays for guest workers at this time. While the executive action is relatively narrow in scope by focusing on candidates for a “green card,” or prospective new, permanent residents, the Administration has left the door open for possible expansion of the ban to other classes of workers.  The order provides that “within 30 days, … the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Homeland Security … shall review non-immigrant programs (emphasis added) and … recommend … other measures appropriate to stimulate the U.S. economy.” The Administration’s decision to focus on foreign labor and contemplate further restrictions adds uncertainty to the guest worker visas programs.  As you recall, Congress authorized a substantial increase in the cap on H-2B guest worker visa-holders within the context of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending legislation.  In early March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would release 35,000 supplemental H-2B visas pursuant to the spending law.  On April 2, however, DHS announced on its Twitter feed that the agency continues to review the H-2B rule, thereby delaying possible release of the supplemental visas. To view a copy of the presidential order, click on this link  

Jim Gagliano, the President and CEO of the Jockey Club, discusses the recent horse drugging indictments and the intricate investigations that led to them.   President & Chief Operating Officer   James L. Gagliano became president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, the breed registry for all Thoroughbred horses in North America, on January 1, 2010. He had served as executive vice president and chief administrative officer for The Jockey Club since June 2005. Prior to joining The Jockey Club’s management team, Gagliano served as executive vice president of Magna Entertainment Corporation’s Maryland racing operations, where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Maryland Jockey Club. He also served as president, MEC OTB, and group vice president, MEC Northern Group. Before that, Gagliano served as executive vice president and general manager of Greenwood Racing Inc. and worked in various roles during a 10-year stint with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. James L. Gagliano Since October 2010, he has served as vice chairman representing the Americas for the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Executive Council. In January 2013, he was elected to the American Horse Council board of trustees for which he was elected vice chairman in June 2015 and chairman in 2018. In June 2016, he was named to the Humane Society of the United States National Horse Racing Advisory Council. In addition, he was elected to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance board of directors in December 2016. Gagliano has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Providence College.   While signaling that there's lots more to come, he also talks about his overwhelming support of Jeff Gural, USADA and the Horseracing Integrity Act. - It's a 'must be listened to' broadcast...!!!        

Following is a summary of the new “economic stimulus” federal legislation that was passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday (April 21) and is scheduled to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday (April 23) with the expectation that it will pass and be signed into law by the President the same day. This summary has been provided by the Washington, D.C. and Nashville, TN-based The Ingram Group for the USTA. But first, is a section of a letter the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association sent to Thoroughbred horsemen with important information regarding loan applications for the Paycheck Protection Program through the Small Business Administration stressing the need to act now, which applies to the harness racing industry and horsemen as well. From the National HBPA IMPORTANT: Regarding those who have already applied for the PPP loan and not received assistance: We can make you aware that according to staff members from the office of Senator Rubio who is the Chairman of the Small Business Committee team, the criteria for re-applying or not re-applying for the PPP depends on your specific bank and their process. Senator Rubio’s team said it is not the intent for businesses who have already applied to have to reapply and the applications were to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. With this information, I urge stakeholders to act quickly and contact lenders if they want to be certain. As you know, many lenders have stopped accepting applications since relief funds have run dry, but applicants can still work to fill out the application and identify possibly a new financial institution that is taking applications, so that they are ready to go when the cash starts flowing again. Act now. It is also worth noting, especially to 501(c)(6) organizations not qualified for relief under the current PPP, that an additional $60 billion will be provided for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) where (c)(6) organizations do qualify for this loan program. From The Ingram Group Tuesday, Senate Republicans and Democrats struck a $484 billion deal aimed at replenishing both SBA and healthcare-related funds. That evening, the Senate passed the agreement that contains the additional relief funding. The bill included $310 billion for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) (with $60 billion of that dedicated to small lenders and community-based financial institutions), $75 billion in emergency money for hospitals, and $25 billion to increase testing and contact tracing capabilities. An additional $60 billion will be provided for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). Note that the bill makes no changes to the Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and local governments. Also, note that it is estimated that the additional $310 billion for PPP could run out in only 72 hours. The bill will now be sent to the House, which will return on Thursday to pass it. The House will also formally approve the task force to oversee COVID-19 funding implementation, which will be led by Majority Whip Clyburn (D-SC). And finally, the House may also address a rule change that would allow the chamber to permit remote committee work and, possibly, remote voting or remote voting through a proxy. Additionally, various House committees are already working on “Phase 4” legislation with the expectation that the House goals for “Phase 4” will emphasize more state and local funding, additional unemployment assistance, food benefit/nutrition funding, and more. The House is currently scheduled to return on May 4, but it is unclear if that date will change. Either way, the expectation is that “Phase 4” is not likely to move before mid- or late-May. To read the text of the bill “to increase amounts authorized and appropriated for commitments for the Paycheck Protection Program authorized under section 7(a) of the Small Business Act, economic injury disaster loans and emergency grants under the CARES Act, to fund hospital and provider recovery and testing, and for other purposes,” click here. from the USTA Communications Department

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

People who earn their livelihoods working with horses in eastern Will County, Chicago, are hoping recent gaming-expansion legislation will revive the struggling harness racing industry. “It’s a good business,” said Kim Roth, 51, of Crete, a horse trainer and owner. “Obviously, it’s dwindled. Hopefully (the legislation) will turn things around. It’s going to help everything.” “Everything” involves thousands of jobs directly and indirectly related to harness racing, according to an industry trade group. There are investors who own horses, men and women who breed and train the animals and drivers who man the carts known as sulkies. The trade involves veterinarians who care for animals, blacksmiths who shoe them, farmers who grow hay, occupations related to the transport of horses and entry-level jobs of mucking stables and grooming horses. Roth works out of Sawgrass Training Center near Crete, where trainers and riders take horses around a half-mile limestone track. Because of economics, there are far fewer horses bred in Illinois today than in past years. “Our breeding industry has collapsed,” Roth said. “That’s going to have to be completely rebuilt.” To put it in perspective, there were 124 standardbred horses foaled in Illinois in 2018, according to the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association. During harness racing’s peak in the 1980s, there were more than 2,000 horses foaled each year in the state, the group said. Trainer Kim Roth, 51, of Crete, works with Ashlee's Fine, a 2-year-old standardbred Illinois horse she is training, on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at Sawgrass Training Center near Crete. "Our breeding industry has collapsed, " she said of the decline in the number of horses bred in Illinois. (Ted Slowik/Daily Southtown) “The purses have got so low, people can’t afford to pay their training bills,” Roth said. Nelson Willis, 75, of Crete, has worked in the business for 62 years, starting as a horse groomer when he was 13 years old. “You’ve got to learn how to take care of a horse before you learn how to train one,” he said. Willis said he trains “22 or 23” horses at Sawgrass and employs five people. Previously, he said, he had a dozen people working for him when he trained 55 horses at Balmoral Park near Crete. “I’ve seen the best of times and right now it’s the worst it’s ever been in this state,” Willis said. “So many people have left here.” For years, track owners, breeders and others in the trade pleaded with legislators to allow gaming positions at racetracks. Illinois was losing out to Ohio, Indiana and other states that drew more competitors and spectators, they said. Trainer Nelson Willis, 75, of Beecher, holds onto a horse halter outside a barn on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at Sawgrass Training Center near Crete. "I've seen the best of times and right now it's the worst it's ever been in this state," Willis said of the harness racing industry in Illinois. (Ted Slowik/Daily Southtown) After years of efforts, the General Assembly recently passed and Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a measure to expand gaming. The major changes allow casinos in Chicago, the south suburbs and four other areas; legalizes sports betting; permits video gaming terminals at racetracks and other large venues; and designates a new racetrack for the south suburbs. Tinley Park officials have said a developer is interested in building the racetrack on the site of the former state mental health facility northwest of Harlem Avenue and 183rd Street. The historic approval happened seven years after lawmakers passed a measure to expand gaming and address losses in the horse racing industry. Former Gov. Pat Quinn vetoedthe 2012 measure. “That left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth,” said Roger Welch, 55, of Beecher. “That was the biggest letdown. One person with a veto single-handedly stopped Illinois horse racing in its tracks.” Welch is a fourth-generation horseman who was inducted into the Illinois Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. He has bred world-champion horses, such as Fox Valley Anabell, a horse owned by the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The harness racing industry in Illinois has rapidly declined in the past five years, Welch said. “There’s no market to sell (horses) in Illinois,” Welch said. “I hope it’s not too late” to bring back the industry. Welch said he remembers when he was a child and visited Sportsman’s Park near Cicero. Crowds were so big, people paid for parking and admission, he said. Attendance dwindled as years passed, despite free admission and parking. Welch said he still lives in Beecher but spends the horse-racing season in Indiana, working mostly at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson, northeast of Indianapolis. Since 2016, Hawthorne Race Course on the border of Cicero and Stickney has been the Chicago area’s only track with harness racing. Hawthorne also hosts thoroughbred racing. Balmoral ended its harness-racing tradition after the 2015 season and became a show-jumping venue in 2017. Maywood Park near Melrose Park also closed in 2015. Sportsman’s Park hosted its last horse race in 2002 and was demolished in 2009. Other harness racing tracks were Washington Park Race Track in Homewood and Aurora Downs Racetrack. Fire destroyed Washington Park in 1977, and Aurora Downs went out of business in 1976. During a 99-day peak stretch in the summer of 1979, Sportsman’s averaged daily attendance of 13,136 patrons who wagered a daily average of $1.6 million, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2017. Back then, harness racing outdrew thoroughbred racing at Arlington Park. Thoroughbreds — the types of horses raced at the Kentucky Derby — are larger but more delicate animals, Roth said. “Standardbred horses are tougher,” she said. Breeding stallions and mares for thoroughbred racing also is more expensive. Harness racers turned to Amish farmers for standardbred workhorses, Welch said. “Amish breeders were breeding every buggy mare they had,” he said. Thoroughbred racing has jockeys; standardbred racing has drivers. Several factors contributed to the decline of harness racing in Illinois, including the introduction of riverboat casinos in the 1990s. In 1995, state lawmakers introduced “purse recapture,” a provision designed to help racetracks when live simulcasts of out-of-state races were introduced. Recapture awarded track owners a share of money that otherwise would have been allotted to purses. The lower purses in Illinois drove many horsemen and horses to races in other states. The decline in racing quality further diminished attendance. “It was a chain reaction,” Roth said. The new legislation ends purse recapture after nearly 25 years. “Purse recapture was the killer,” Welch said. “The racetracks kept recapturing the money and the wagering dollars were less and less every year.” The Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association estimates that harness racing-related jobs stand at about 20,000 in Illinois, down from a peak of more than 60,000 two decades ago. The new legislation will create jobs indirectly related to harness racing, including racetrack positions such as tellers, bartenders, servers, marketers and accountants, the IHHA said. “The ripple effect of our industry on the Illinois economy is wide and difficult to grasp sometimes,” IHHA President Marty Engel said in a statement. “It was one of our missions to make sure that our economic impact was understood as valuable.” Blacksmith Jimmy Halvorson, 35, of Crete, shoes a horse on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at Sawgrass Training Center near Crete. "A lot of people left. Now there's a lot of talk that they want to come home," he said of harness racing-related jobs in Illinois. (Ted Slowik/Daily Southtown) Jimmy Halvorson, 35, of Crete, is a blacksmith who shoes horses at Sawgrass and other training centers. “It seemed like we had a dying business here,” Halvorson said. “A lot of people left. Now there’s a lot of talk they that want to come home.” Despite track closures, declining attendance and job losses in the industry, horsemen and women are optimistic that the new legislation will create growth within a few years. “I’m excited,” Welch said. “I think it’s going to be real promising.” Welch and others believe breeders, buyers and workers will return to Illinois as the harness racing industry is re-established. “This is going to get our breeding business going again,” Roth said.  By TED SLOWIK  Reprinted with permission of The Chicago Tribune

In response to a request from the industry to consider revising the current rules and Directives with respect to urging, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is making an amendment to the Standardbred Rules of Racing and to Policy Directive No. 5-2009: Penalty Guidelines for Inappropriate Urging of a Horse in Standardbred Racing. Amended wording will limit urging in Standardbred racing to acceptable "wrist action" only and there will be recommended minimum penalties for races with a purse of $100K or more. The rule change will become effective at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 3, 2019 and will be gradually phased in across all Standardbred racetracks in Ontario on dates to be determined. https://www.agco.ca/bulletin/2019/information-bulletin-no-71-amendment-standardbred-urging-rules    

TRENTON, NJ — January 28, 2019 — The New Jersey state Assembly Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a bill that would provide  a five-year appropriation of $20 million a year to benefit the New Jersey breeding program and open spaces and the New Jersey Sire Stakes and the purses at the Meadowlands Racetrack, Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway. The New Jersey Racing Commission would distribute the funds to the three racetracks and it would provide a much-needed boost to the standardbred and Thoroughbred industry in New Jersey. The complete state Assembly will vote on the bill on Thursday January 31, 2019.  Should the bill pass the Assembly, it would then go to Governor Phil Murphy for approval before it can become a law. Courtney Stafford

The 85th annual ARCI Conference on Racing Integrity and Animal Welfare will be held in Arcadia, California on April 2, 2019 - April 5, 2019. Registration is now open on Eventbrite. For those of you who need to pay by check, please contact me for an invoice. I will register you for the conference once payment is received in the ARCI office. Register on Eventbrite The event hotel will be the Embassy Suites in Arcadia. We have once again arranged a room block at the area per diem of $173 per night (not including tax.) Embassy offers free parking, a complimentary shuttle that will travel within a seven mile radius of the hotel, free breakfast, and a complimentary evening beer and wine reception. The room block is primarily set for Tuesday through Friday evening. If you attempt to book earlier and run into issues, please contact me and I'll assist you with making a reservation. Embassy Suites by Hilton Arcadia Pasadena Area 211 East Huntington Drive, Arcadia, California, 91006, USA TEL: +1-626-445-8525 FAX: +1-626-445-8548 The reservation link for the ARCI rate is below: https://secure3.hilton.com/en_US/es/reservation/book.htm?execution=e1s1 The preliminary agenda for the meeting is attached. Please contact me with any questions you have. We're looking forward to seeing you again at this year's conference! Rebecca Shoemaker Assistant to the President & CEO Association of Racing Commissioners International  

Columbus, OH - In May 2018, through the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors Medication Subcommittee, the USTA established the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative to develop reliable, consistent medication regulations for application specifically to harness racing. On Wednesday (Nov. 28), the HRMC distributed usage recommendations supported with position papers for thresholds and withdrawal times on two therapeutic medications, clenbuterol and betamethasone, to 16 state regulatory agencies. "The HRMC will close a gap in the science and policy underlying Standardbred medication regulation," said USTA President Russell Williams in making the announcement last May. "Our primary goal is to improve the quality of medication information available to our regulators." HRMC brings together a distinguished panel of academic, practicing, and regulatory veterinarians who are conversant with pharmacological and pharmacokinetic scientific studies, veterinary practice norms, and relevant regulatory issues. The USTA plans to provide the HRMC's reports and supporting data to regulators in the various racing commissions as well as the Association of Racing Commissioners International for their consideration in establishing medication rules. The state agencies that have been sent HRMC recommendations on the two therapeutic medications are: California Horse Racing Board, Delaware Harness Racing Commission, Indiana Horse Racing Commission, Maine State Racing Commission, Maryland Racing Commission, Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Michigan Gaming Control Board, Minnesota Racing Commission, New Jersey Racing Commission, New York State Gaming Commission, Ohio State Racing Commission, Pennsylvania Bureau of Standardbred Horse Racing, Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Illinois Racing Board, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Virginia Racing Commission. At their regular monthly meeting last week on Wednesday (Nov. 28), the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission indicated that they will consider the HRMC recommendations at their next public meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 18). Some regulators have been referring to the Controlled Therapeutic Substances (CTS) list maintained by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and applying CTS guidelines on withdrawal times, route of administration, dosage, and threshold levels to harness racing. But the CTS list was developed for application to Thoroughbred racing, and harness racing's vastly different racing and training models require certain differences in the CTS list specifications. In addition, the CTS list has met criticism in some scientific circles for referencing confidential, unpublished data, inaccurate thresholds (resulting in undeserved infractions), disregard of clinical practice realities (such as intra-articular dosages allowing for treatment of only one knee or hock), and inappropriate statistical application (such as the 95:95 threshold, which puts as many as 1 in 20 appropriately-treated horses at risk of a threshold violation). Despite the USTA's years of effort, these concerns have not been adequately addressed. The Harness Racing Medication Collaborative consists of the following veterinarians who have expertise in the Standardbred racehorse: Dr. Marty Allen, Dr. Richard Balmer, Dr. Clara Fenger, Dr. Peter Kanter, Dr. Brian MacNamara, Dr. George Maylin, Dr. Kenneth McKeever, Dr. Andy Roberts, Dr. James Robertson, and Dr. Thomas Tobin. The members of the USTA Medication Subcommittee are: Joe Faraldo (Chairperson); Sam Beegle, Robert Boni, John Brennan, Mark Davis, Joe Frasure, Mark Loewe, Steve O'Toole, Brett Revington, Andrew M. Roberts DVM, and USTA President Russell Williams. Where appropriate and necessary, HRMC will also conduct or help support new research pertinent to harness racing. from the USTA Communications Department

The U.S. Trotting Association announced Friday (Jan. 26) that all Fines and Suspensions Ruling Reports, which are searchable, are now available for free in Pathway (https://pathway.ustrotting.com), the online harness racing database on the USTA's website. Previously, only weekly Fines and Suspensions Bulletins in pdf format were available at no charge but were not searchable. "We realized that our searchable integrity-related information would be highly valuable to our track members, horsemen and prospective new owners," said USTA President Russell Williams in making the announcement. "Although we're highly conscious of funding all of our activities at the USTA and this will decrease some revenue in our budget, we feel that it is a significant item for racing integrity." To access the Fines and Suspensions data, users must have a Pathway account. There is no charge to set up an account. In addition to these rulings and other free reports, users also can purchase a wide variety of Standardbred performance and pedigree reports. To create a Pathway account, click here or on the Pathway tab on the USTA website. Under the Rulings tab in Pathway, Fines and Suspensions can be searched by People, Facility or State. There are three separate reports available in the People section that includes career rulings for all data available to the USTA: Rulings Summary Report All Rulings Report Major Rulings Report Within both the Facility, pari-mutuel tracks and fairs, and State sections, there are two types of reports that allow the user to input specific timeframes by start and stop dates. For each category, the reports are either: Summary Major Rulings Report Summary Rulings Report The information provided in the USTA rulings reports rulings is submitted by the judges/stewards and state racing commissions. The USTA is not responsible for the accuracy or timeliness of the information. For further details on specific rulings, please contact the racing commission where the ruling was issued. For questions regarding Pathway, please contact Pathway support at pathway@ustrotting.com or call 877.800.8782, ext. 4. Ken Weingartner      

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards provide notice to participants in the Victorian Harness Racing Industry of additions to the 'Victorian Licensing Policy' and the implementation of the 'Transfer of Horses from Suspended or Disqualified Trainer Policy', to be effective from 1 December 2017. Victorian Licensing Policy Additions Background The HRV Licensing Policy has been amended to formally document the current practices that are undertaken. The majority of the policy remains unchanged and the amendments are provided below. Purpose Trial Driver and Re-Instated Driver Requirements: The requirement for a driver obtaining a licence to drive in races to complete a satisfactory number of trials is imperative for a variety of reasons. Most significantly to ensure the driver displays the required skill competencies and to also establish awareness and a level of understanding of rule and policy obligations upon a driver. Trainer Financial Requirements: The financial requirements upon a trainer within the licensing policy are necessary to address the potential risk to the reputation of the industry of a person who cannot meet industry debts. This measure also addresses the potential animal welfare risk of a trainer who does not have the financial means to adequately care for horses under their supervision. Re-Applying After Disqualification: Ordinarily through the Show-Cause process for a disqualified person re-applying for a licensee, the participant is usually granted the lowest class of licence in the applicable category. This formalises the current process and it is intended by requiring persons who have been disqualified for a significant period to re-commence the licensing process, it emphasises that a licence is a privilege and the licence status attained ought to be valued and therefore not jeopardised in any way. Amendments include: 1. Trial driver and re-instated driver requirements: • Trial drives shall be completed at the following venues: Ballarat, Bendigo, Cranbourne, Geelong, Kilmore, Mildura, Maryborough, Shepparton, Tabcorp Park Melton, Terang, Swan Hill or another venue previously arranged with HRV Stewards. 2. B Grade Trainer requirements and Trainers re-applying after a period of 6 months or more: Lodged a completed application form together with: - Provide a minimum of two (2) work references attesting to your horse handling ability.  References from licensed trainers must include – the period they have knowledge of you working with Standardbred horses and the duties undertaken. Provide a minimum of two (2) credit references (Vet, Farrier, Feed Suppliers etc.) stating that your accounts are paid promptly OR a credit report by contacting a credit reporting body.  You can obtain a copy of your credit report free of charge from a CRB within ten (10) days of them receiving your request. To request a copy of your credit report, contact these national CRB’s: CRB                             WEBSITE                                             PHONE Veda                             My CreditFile.com.au (Equifax)           1300 762 207 D & B                            D & B CheckYourCredit                       1300 734 806 Experian                       Experian Credit Services                     1300 783 684 Bank account statements in your name for the preceding six (6) month period (to the date your application is submitted to Harness Racing Victoria). Note - These bank account statements should also be submitted to your chosen Accountant/Bank Manager/Officer to form part of the Accountant Reference declaration accompanying the application form. Certified Extract of Birth OR Driver Licence. A certificate of completion of a practical assessment from the Bendigo Harness Racing Training Centre or the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre and evidence of enrolment with either training centre for commencement of mandatory training modules. 3. Financial requirements for A grade trainer applications: Lodged a completed application form together with: - •       Two (2) references from Licensed trainers. •       Provide a minimum of two (2) credit references (Vet, Farrier, Feed Suppliers etc.) stating that your accounts are paid promptly. •       Bank account statements in your name for the preceding six (6) month period (to the date your application is submitted to Harness Racing Victoria). •       Note - These bank account statements should also be submitted to your chosen Accountant/Bank Manager to form part of the Accountant Reference declaration accompanying the application form. 4. Disqualified person re-applying for licence: •   A person who has been disqualified for a period of 12 months or more, and is granted a licence, shall automatically only be granted the highest licence of a Grade C Driver and/or Grade B Trainer and shall meet the relevant requirements detailed above prior to any further upgrade of licence being considered. 5. Driver Relicensing: • A driver who has previously been licensed to drive in races, but who has not been licensed as a driver, for the below periods shall complete the specified number of satisfactory trials prior to driving in a race:           Not licensed for 12 months: 10 satisfactory trials           Not licensed for greater than 2 years: 15 satisfactory trials Transfer of Horses from Suspended or Disqualified Trainer Policy There have been multiple circumstances identified whereby a trainer has been disqualified or suspended under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR), only for horses previously trained by that person, to be transferred to an immediate family member or a trainer who trains from the same registered training address. This gives rise to the perception that the trainer subject to penalty remains involved in the training, or influencing the training of the horses previously trained by them. This policy intends to outline to all industry stakeholders that this practice will no longer be permitted, except with the approval of the HRV Stewards. Approval will only be given should the HRV Stewards be appropriately satisfied of separation between the trainer subject to penalty and the trainer seeking to train a horse covered by the policy. The HRV Board, HRV Integrity Council and Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association (VTDA) have given support to and recommended the implementation of these changes proposed by HRV Stewards. Links: Victorian Licensing Policy Transfer of Horses from Suspended or Disqualified Trainer Policy Australian Harness Racing Rules For further information contact the HRV Integrity Department on 8378 0222. Harness Racing Victoria

Brett Sturman is right on target when he opines (Harness Racing Update 9/15/17) that suspending a horse is unfair to the owner, but surely it is also harmful to the industry; an industry that seems to be intent on chasing owners away from the auction rings and claim boxes under the well intended, but misguided popular mantra of much desired "integrity”.   Clearly, as Sturman properly pointed out, any owner found to be complicit with illegal activity, should be severely punished; but to punish an owner for entrusting his or her horse to a trainer who is licensed and fully able to participate by virtue of a license issued by the Commission is just wrong.   If the owner is to be charged with failing to be “more” mindful, diligent and selective about engaging a trainer, should not the regulator be held to the same standard in licensing and re-licensing trainers?   If owners are to be punished for engaging the services of “certain” licensed trainers, perhaps the regulator should consider publishing a list of those licensed trainers they "mindfully, diligently and selectively" issued a license to, and advise owners that in spite of their grant of a license, these licensees are the ones owners should avoid.   This would tremendously help owners in making an informed choice, rather than subjecting owners to such harsh punishment imposed, due to the lack of diligence on the Commission’s part in issuing a “stay away from” trainer a license in the first place.   Punishing owners after the fact for using a trainer who subsequently violates the trainer responsibility rule or for the failure to guard a horse from the administration of an illicit substance is simply not going to produce the desired result, especially when many regulators see fit to adopt the unfounded medication guidelines of RMTC. Enforcement of these guidelines has created false positives already and now could be a further predicate to cause owners to suffer.   Many of the sport’s top trainers have been the subject of permissive medication violations simply because they are the trainer.  Now is this new proposal going to allow regulators or/track track operators to pick and choose, not only which trainers should suffer but now which owners should, or should not, be penalized?    Consider something else, when does the 90 day suspension of the horse commence, when the positive is reported, or at the conclusion of a the trainer’s hearing or the exhaustion of the judicial process?   If from the report of the positive, how does the regulator compensate an owner whose trainer is eventually exonerated?   Can a horse’s ownership be transferred before the process is completed or can the Commission ignore one's right to the "free alienation of property"?   Will the Commission undertake alerting the entire industry that a horse is potentially subject to suspension at the end of the process or does a new and unsuspecting owner now suffer?     We have seen similar pitfalls erupt when Commissions decided to pre-race detain high TCO2 horses and paint them with an industry's "Scarlet Letter".    No doubt the industry needs to champion a level playing field. As usual, its knee-jerk efforts, lauded in so many quarters, make for positive sound bites and a purely negative and mostly counterproductive result.    If no real investment is made in properly policing this sport, no misguided punishment of owners who have done no wrong, will ever be a meaningful substitute for the integrity that we desire, as there may not be owners left.   The only real solution to the problem is, and always has been, the investment in “boots on the ground” investigations by the Commission, valid medication guidelines followed by appropriate testing protocols at experienced labs.   Attempting to clean up the problem via innuendo and the slander of trainers, accomplishes nothing more than a further erosion of the industry by driving out owners whose only foibles were hiring fully licensed conditioners.   Joe Faraldo  

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