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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  

The governing bodies of the New Zealand racing industry are united in their support for the new Racing Amendment Bill, introduced by the Minister for Racing, Hon David Bennett. The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) and Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ), see the introduction of the bill a major milestone in the process towards enacting legislation that will bring a welcome increase in funding to the industry. The proposed legislation addresses the rapid and broad growth of online betting and the loss of potential industry income to overseas bookmakers. "We are delighted to see the recommendations from the Offshore Betting Working Group progressing through to legislation," says NZRB Chair, Glenda Hughes. "The support for our industry, which contributes $1.6 billion to GDP each year, is greatly appreciated and we sincerely thank Ministers David Bennett and Nathan Guy, and officials who have brought about today's landmark moment," says Ms Hughes. "We welcome the proposed legislation and look forward to engaging with the Racing Board and Government to maximise revenue opportunities for the industry," said New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Chair, Alan Jackson. "Harness Racing are naturally excited to now see this Bill enter the House for its first reading. We congratulate all those who have contributed to its progression and look forward to the benefits and opportunities it will provide our industry," says HRNZ Chairman, Ken Spicer. GRNZ Chairman, Craig Rendle agreed that the Bill introduced today is a momentous milestone, "the export market continues to be a growth area for greyhound racing, and the introduction of offshore charges will help strengthen our future and the contribution we make as a sport to New Zealand." "NZRB is also continuing to work on improving its competitiveness to enhance our customers' experience and ensure they can receive the same level of service and options as they find offshore," says Ms Hughes.   Kate Richards Head of Communications New Zealand Racing Board

We are intending to introduce the Racing Amendment Bill to the House of Representatives before the General Election. This Bill will make changes to the Racing Act to implement recommendations made by the Offshore Racing and Sports Betting Working Group, which was set up as a result of the racing industry calling for the Government to examine the issue of overseas internet sites taking bets on New Zealand events.  These companies make profits from bets on New Zealand racing and sports and from people in this country without making any financial contribution in return. The new legislation will introduce two charges – an information charge and a consumption charge. The information charge is similar to the system that has been established successfully in the so-called Race Fields Acts in Australia.  It will require offshore bookmakers to pay a charge for the New Zealand sporting and racing information they use in their betting products. The consumption charge will apply to bets that offshore operators take from people in New Zealand. It is an exciting progression for the racing industry to see this legislation come to fruition, and we are working hard to achieve the goal. Designing legislation which has extra-territorial effect is not simple, but the drafting is well underway.  The Bill is expected to get its first reading in August, putting it on track to becoming part of New Zealand legislation next year at some time. Hon David Bennett Member of Parliament for Hamilton East | Minister of Racing

If civil actions had bookies, these horse folks might be 100-to-1 longshots. Three years ago, a group of Ontario racehorse breeders took Kathleen Wynne’s government to court over claims the province made a “bad faith” decision in 2012 to abruptly end a lucrative revenue-sharing agreement with the horse racing industry. The standardbred breeders allege cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program damaged their livelihoods. But the rural plaintiffs — who in 2015 notched a legal victory in obtaining government documents tied to the agreement cancellation, as court-ordered disclosure — continue to battle the government. On Monday, the sides are back in a Guelph courthouse. Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Emery will hear motions from the province and co-defendant Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to quash summonses for 13 witnesses — including Wynne, her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, former finance minister Dwight Duncan and economist Don Drummond. “The evidence shows that these are the folks who are the only ones who can bring any level of transparency to the decision that was made and imposed in 2012,” said Toronto lawyer Jonathan Lisus, who represents the breeders seeking $65 million in damages. “They were directly and personally involved in the decision, its implementation and the response to the harm that was caused.” The province and the OLG deny all allegations of wrongdoing in their statements of defence. Earlier this year, both filed motions to have the case summarily dismissed, a matter scheduled for a November hearing. Emilie Smith, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General, said in a written statement that “Ontario has brought a summary judgment motion” to proceed in Superior Court “to have the action dismissed on the basis that it does not raise a genuine issue for trial.” “After Ontario confirmed that it would be bringing a summary judgment motion, the plaintiffs served fifteen summonses to witness,” Smith said. “Ontario has brought a motion to quash thirteen of the fifteen summonses on the basis that the evidence of the summonsed witnesses is not relevant to the summary judgment motion and that the summonses are an abuse of process.” She continued: “As this matter is subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.” OLG also declined comment. “It would be inappropriate for OLG to comment on matters before the courts,” said spokesperson Tony Bitonti. The defendants have already deposed 17 plaintiffs. Lisus said his clients want the opportunity to examine current and former senior government officials on their witness list, under oath. “I understand the government may not want this decision-making process to be scrutinized but it (ending the slots agreement) caused a lot of harm to a lot of people,” Lisus said. “The documents and evidence demonstrate they (the defendants) knew it would cause a lot of harm to a lot of people.” Around 1998, the slots agreement grew out of the Ontario government’s interest in installing the machines at racetracks. In 2012, then-finance minister Dwight Duncan announced the revenue-sharing deal would be scrapped. With a year’s notice to the horse racing industry, it officially ceased in 2013. Up to that point, horse racing’s share of slots revenue was about $4 billion. A key component of the breeders’ allegations hinges on the five-to-seven-year cycle needed to produce a standardbred racing horse from conception to the start gate. They claim the breeding cycle was well-known to the defendants, who also understood that breeders plan their businesses on this timeline. Lisus said the government’s one-year notice to end the slots deal devastated breeders, noting “the value of horses completely halved overnight.” “It’s not the plaintiffs’ position that the revenue share had to continue forever or could never be renegotiated,” the lawyer said. “The way the government did it, which was to essentially give no notice and say revenue sharing is going to stop, caused the bottom to fall entirely out of the market, and it never came back,” Lisus continued. “The documents show they knew that would happen.” The breeders claim that information contained in the court-ordered disclosure shows senior government officials were planning to cancel the slots program “without warning” even while the province was reassuring the horse industry that the partnership would continue, according to the plaintiffs’ responding factum to the motion to quash summonses. The disclosure documents also contain emails between government officials. Another aspect of the civil action pertains to the government compensating racetrack owners and not those who produce the racing animals after the slots deal was scrapped. “Ontario and OLG paid $80.6 million in compensation to those racetrack owners, while refusing to even discuss compensation for the standardbred breeders,” are among the allegations contained in the breeders’ statement of claim. The standardbred breeders were not a party to the slots contracts, which were signed by individual racetrack owners and OLG. However, Justice Emery, in his 2015 decision to order broad document access for the plaintiffs, wrote that “reports by (the Ontario Racing Commission) and other publications reflected the long-term nature of the commitments Ontario and OLG were making to racetracks and stakeholders in the horse racing industry.” The province, in its statement of defence filed by the attorney general’s office, denied “all allegations of liability and wrongdoing referred to in the plaintiff’s claim” and said at all times “the Crown acted in the public interest.” In addition, government decisions “made in relation to the implementation and termination of the Slots at Racetracks Program were core policy and fiscal decisions made in the public interest and made at the Ministerial and Cabinet level of government and are, accordingly, immune from suit,” according to defence pleadings filed by the attorney general’s office. The province also contends: “If the plaintiffs suffered any losses, which the Crown denies, those losses resulted from something other than actions of the Crown.” By Mary Ormsby Reprinted with permission of The Star        

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

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

Lexington, KY -   The 2017 ARCI Conference on Racing Integrity and Equine Welfare will focus on a blunt discussion about what is working and what is not in harness racing regulation in an ongoing effort to continually strengthen current policing efforts. Although the annual ARCI conference is the only gathering of racing industry regulators, it is open to anyone involved with the industry in any capacity.   The conference will be held in Charleston, South Carolina from April 18 thru April 20, 2017 at the Charleston Marriott.     Those interested in attending may register online at this LINK.     Racing’s drug testing program will undergo an aggressive review by a panel of experts who will address the topic “Drug Testing: Are We Getting it Right and Catching the Cheaters?”.   Expect discussions focusing on emerging doping threats and possible ways to monitor horses through development of an equine biological passport.   There will also be a discussion of strategies as to how select horses for out-of-competition tests. The use of the riding crop will be discussed and debated at the conference, as will current policies which may be an impediment to emerging technologies intended to grow the sport.    There will also be a discussion about creative ways to adjudicate racing rule violations differently than what is now being done. The Horseplayers Association of North America and others have been invited to participate on a panel entitled:  “Do Our Stewards Know What They Are Doing?”. The ARCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International) is the only organization in racing whose members are the officially sanctioned racing authorities empowered by law to enact and enforce the rules of racing as well as adjudicate violations and disputes.    The April meeting will also host meetings of: the National Racing Compact; Association of Official Racing Chemists (AORC - US Section); the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee; and the Model Rules Committee. Hotel reservations at the Charleston Marriott at the ARCI conference rate of $179 plus tax. Links; RCI Conference Registration Charleston Marriott    

MANALAPAN, NJ — January 30, 2017 — This past November, New Jersey’s racing industry suffered a major setback, as the Casino Expansion Referendum was defeated by the voters.  It was apparent that New Jersey’s surrounding states were funding the campaign against the cause. Since, the defeat the SBOANJ board members have been diligently working on an alternative plan that would generate another source of revenue for our racing industry to survive. The idea of Historic Racing was brought to their attention.  Most recently, the state of Kentucky has successfully implemented Historic Racing machines into both thoroughbred and standardbred racetracks. A Historic Racing Bill was introduced to the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey on January 9, 2017.  The bill is being sponsored by Senators Richard J Codey and Christopher “Kip” Bateman.  It has also gained co-sponsorship from Senator Oroho.  The bill will permit wagering at racetracks and off track wagering facilities in the State of New Jersey on previously recorded live thoroughbred or standardbred horse races that do not identify the actual race. To see the details of the bill go to “ State of New Jersey 217th Legislature Senate # 2886 “ After the bill was introduced to the Senate and General Assembly, a copy was sent to the SBOANJ for review.  Currently they are evaluating the bill and its content. In the meantime, they will continue to work on an alternative plan to help generate revenue that New Jersey racetracks need to compete with neighboring states that have casino revenue to support their purse accounts. “We continue to ask for your help and cooperation during these trying times.  Also, continue to show your support to both the Meadowlands and Freehold racetracks,” said SBOANJ President Mark Ford. Click here to view the bill Pacesetter Jan/Feb 2017 Courtney Stafford Publicity Consultant SBOANJ cstafford@sboanj.com 732-462-2357

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