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ANDERSON, Ind. -- Peaky Sneaky became the first filly to defeat Party Girl Hill -- and she made the most of it, capturing the $500,000 Breeders Crown sophomore filly harness racing pace on Saturday night (Oct. 31) at Harrah's Hoosier Park in rein to driver Yannick Gingras. Gingras and Peaky Sneaky left explosively to secure the lead before yielding into the opening bend to Rocknificent and driver Scott Zeron. The Nancy Takter trainee was quick to regain at the :26.2 opening quarter, and she then stung the 1-5 favorite Party Girl Hill before allowing her to pass at the halfway point in :54. Party Girl Hill and Dexter Dunn kept the tempo lively, hitting three-quarters in 1:21.3 while second choice Lyons Sentinel and Tim Tetrick crept into contention first-over and was on the leader's flank heading into the homestretch. Unlike in her 14 straight victories, Party Girl Hill and Dunn looked vulnerable on Breeders Crown night under outside pressure from Lyons Sentinel. And once the inside passing lane opened, Peaky Sneaky picked up the fight. The three fillies raced head-to-head through deep stretch, with Party Girl Hill fighting valiantly. Ultimately, Peaky Sneaky wore her down in the closing strides to prevail in a stakes record 1:49 mile. Lyons Sentinel edged Party Girl Hill for second. Peaky Sneaky is owned by Howard and Judith Taylor and Order By Stable, and was bred by White Birch Farms. The victory was her sixth on the season in 14 tries. The Bettor's Delight filly paid $16.20 as the third choice. "She was tremendous last week," Gingras said of Peaky Sneaky. "I thought she had a shot." Takter has believed in Peaky Sneaky all year long: "She was so good. I've been saying all along that she's going to win a big one. She won the right big one." by Jay Bergman, for the Breeders Crown

Columbus, OH – Attorney Howard Taylor released a statement Friday (Aug. 14) in response to “certain inaccurate and/or misleading aspects of statements made by PETA concerning the settlement of the Tretter v. Breshnahan matter.” Taylor noted that $7,500 of the $20,000 settlement was donated to the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, thus Mr. Tretter received only $12,500. He emphasized that PETA financed 100 percent of Tretter’s legal fees that exceeded $1 million paid to their law firm, K&L Gates and added that “this was not a windfall, but a nuisance value settlement for a small fraction of the costs expended to secure this settlement” and that “the settlement was negotiated as a business decision to avoid further legal expenses to the defendants.” “There was no ‘success’ in prosecuting this matter as the costs were too great,” added Taylor. In order to avoid a floodgate of litigation on similar cases that could never succeed, Taylor explained that “the Courts consistently ruled that cases of this nature dealing with gambling winnings are far too speculative and cannot succeed.” To read the complete statement, click here. From the USTA

ANDERSON, IN - He has owned a victor in almost major stake contest on the continent but Shnitzledosomethin owns Howard Taylor's heart despite not being a world champion or capturing a Breeders Crown. That could all change with a preparatory race prior to that event in the $225,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Harrah's Hoosier Park on Friday (Aug. 14). "I just had to have him after seeing him as a yearling," said Taylor who co-owns the 5-year-old stallion with Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen and Richard Lombardo. "He was from Fred's {Fred And Ginger} first crop and he was just a specimen. Out of all the horses I have owned and all the races I have been fortunate to win. I have been so lucky; this horse is my favorite." Shnitzledosomethin is out of the Sand Shooter mare Summer N Sand and was bred by Aaron Stutzman of Goshen, Ind. Trained by Dylan Davis, he will have Scott Zeron in the bike when he leaves from post position one on Friday evening. He is 20-1 on the morning line. "My partners thought he was not of the caliber to race in the Breeders Crown [at Hoosier Park in 2018]," Taylor said. "But they told me to go with it. And he finished second by a nose in the elimination and final." Shnitzledosomethin has compiled a record of 59-18-13-2 during his career. The stallion has banked $764,344 and enters the Dan Patch Stakes after he paced a lifetime career mark [1:49.3] at Harrah's Philadelphia on Aug. 2. He has never failed to break the $100,000 barrier in purse money earned each year during his career and shipped to the city of Brotherly Love after an a usual performance in the $123,100 William Haughton Memorial on July 18 at The Meadowlands. "I'm not making excuses for him," Davis said. "All the trainers and horses were in the same situation with detention and protocols. But he just wasn't himself. He's doing great right now and I brought him out to Hoosier early so we are here now. He has not turned a hair all week." The big, bay stallion is definitely a specimen when it comes to his physical presence and Shnitzledosomethin's conformation, oddly enough, is directly related to how he received his unusual name. "He was such a beautiful horse," Taylor said. "Even as a yearling. His breeder said he just had to name him that because he was so big and gangly. He would watch him running and all he could think to himself was, 'Go do something.' And he has." Besides preparing for the Breeders Crown, which will be contested over this oval on Friday (Oct. 30) and Saturday (Oct. 31), Shnitzledosomethin may be paying attention to his younger sibling Somethingbeautiful (Always A Virgin, $44,250). This 2-year-old filly has dazzled in each of her two trips the post over this surface. She is also trained by Davis and Taylor is already looking forward to the Breeders Crown. "Shniztle's sister is special," Taylor said. "And that also shows how special he is. They will both be in the Breeders Crown and I think Shnitzle has an advantage because he has shown he well he races at Hoosier Park." The 2020 installment of the Dan Patch Stakes will highlight the 15-race program that is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be supported by an all-star undercard of racing action. The race will be part of a special weekend tagged as "Dan Patch Festival Weekend". Hoosier Park will showcase some of the most notable names in harness racing alongside special wagers, free prizes, VIP giveaways, and food trucks. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule at Harrah's Hoosier Park, please visit www.harrahshoosierpark.com. by Kim French, for Hoosier Park

Judy Taylor has spent decades in the harness racing game, first with her husband Jerry and then also with her son Howard after he followed in his dad's footsteps, and she says her horse buying days are drawing to an end. So, if her partnership with Howard on Hambletonian Stakes finalist Back Of The Neck represents something of a last hurrah, it also has presented ample reason for Judy to exclaim hurray. Back Of The Neck is the 4-1 third choice on the morning line in Saturday's $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands. The colt has two wins and two seconds in four races this year, with his first setback coming by a nose in his seasonal debut and the other by a half-length to Ramona Hill in last weekend's Hambletonian eliminations. Sandwiched between those races were two 1:52 wins, first in a division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial and the second in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. The Taylors share ownership of Back Of The Neck, a son of French star Ready Cash out of Big Barb, with breeder Stefan Balazsi's Order By Stable. For his career, Back Of The Neck has won five of 13 races and $216,320. He will start the Hambletonian from post two with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Ake Svanstedt. Ramona Hill, one of two fillies in the race, is the 5-2 favorite from post five for driver Andy McCarthy and trainer Tony Alagna. The Hambletonian is the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. CBS Sports Network will air a delayed one-hour broadcast of the Hambletonian from 6-7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The stakes-filled card at The Meadowlands starts at noon. "I've been in the business for a lot of years, but I've never had anything quite like this," Judy said. "It's very, very exciting. We'll just hope for the best. I've experienced enough of this to know that sometimes you're disappointed. Hopefully, this time I won't be, and we'll be in the winner's circle." This not Judy's first Hambletonian horse. She and Howard were among the owners of Jacksons Minion, who finished fifth in the 2015 Hambletonian. Jacksons Minion was 58-1. "This is definitely a little different caliber," Judy said. Jerome "Jerry" Taylor, a Philadelphia-based attorney who passed away in 2013, got the family started in racing when he decided in the early 1970s to buy a horse. The horse he purchased was Leander Lobell, who as a 3-year-old raced on the Grand Circuit against the likes of Most Happy Fella and Columbia George. Except, Jerry bought the horse at age 4. "My husband wanted to be in the horse business, which was rather alien to someone like him," Judy said with a laugh. "But, anyway, he decided he wanted a horse because he had gone out to Brandywine and Liberty Bell for many years. "He went with a friend to a horse sale, and he knew as much about horses as you know about moon walks. They bought a horse in the sale that was the most expensive one because they thought that's how you get a good one. They didn't know anything, all they did was buy a horse. But that's how it all started." Jerry, though, enjoyed his share of successes over the years, among the most notable New Jersey Sire Stakes and Grand Circuit champion Devil's Adversary, and loved the sport. "Horses mean a lot to me, but they meant even more to him," Howard said. "He never, ever missed a race. He would go everywhere, and he absolutely loved them. "I remember friends of his would get mad at him because he would never make plans to go anywhere until after the draw came out. You couldn't call him up to see what he was doing next weekend because he wanted to see if his horse got in to race. He knew what he was doing if the horse got in." Howard developed his own passion for racing, getting licensed as a trainer and driver in addition to owning horses. Howard, also an attorney, was among the owners of 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta and his many other notable horses included three-time Dan Patch Award winning trotter Buck I St Pat. "When kids went to camp in the summertime, he went to the track and learned how to rig a horse and all that," Judy said. "He always loved it since he was a kid. "He's very knowledgeable. I listen to what he tells me. I told him this is my last hurrah; I'll go with you (on a horse) if it's OK and hopefully we'll have a little luck. You buy what you think is good, the breeding is good, and then you hope for the best. He's been very successful. We'll keep our fingers crossed." Howard said as thrilled as he is for another chance to win the Hambletonian, he's most happy for his mom. "She's nervous, but she is very excited," Howard said. "She's having a good time." $1 Million Hambletonian PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Ready For Moni-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Takter-3/1 2-Back Of The Neck-Scott Zeron-Ake Svanstedt-4/1 3-Hollywood Story-David Miller-Marcus Melander-15/1 4-Big Oil-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-15/1 5-Ramona Hill-Andrew McCarthy-Tony Alagna-5/2 6-Threefiftytwo-Scott Zeron, Luc Blais-6/1 7-Capricornus-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-15/1 8-Rome Pays Off-Mattias Melander-Marcus Melander-15/1 9-Sister Sledge-Brian Sears-Ron Burke-12/1 10-Amigo Volo-Dexter Dunn-Nifty Norman-12/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Howard Taylor's horses are keeping him up at night, but only for the best of reasons. Taylor, a longtime owner who has experienced his share of success over the years, is enjoying a month to remember and hoping the good times continue as the calendar advances. Among Taylor's July highlights: Trotting mare Atlanta winning the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial over rival Manchego, 3-year-old pacing colt Tall Dark Stranger capturing the Meadowlands Pace after a dramatic stretch duel with rival Papi Rob Hanover, 3-year-old trotting colt Back Of The Neck winning consecutive stakes to stamp himself a prime contender for the Hambletonian, and a sparkling debut from 2-year-old female pacer Somethingbeautiful, who is a half-sister to Taylor's stakes-winner Shnitzledosomethin. "I can't even believe it, it's like everywhere I look," said Taylor, who this year is third in purses among North American owners. "It's almost an embarrassment of riches; I'm on Cloud Nine. "I don't want to go to sleep at night because I'm afraid that when I get up it will be a dream." This weekend, Taylor will watch Captain Groovy compete in the first of three seven-horse eliminations for the Delvin Miller Adios for 3-year-old pacers at The Meadows. The top-three finishers in each elim advance to the Aug. 1 final. Captain Groovy, trained by Ray Schnittker and driven by Mark MacDonald, will start from post six in his elimination. The race includes The Greek Freak, who brings a three-race win streak to the event, and Meadowlands Pace finalist Roll With JR. Last year, Captain Groovy started his campaign with four consecutive wins -- three in divisions of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series and the other in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars. He was winless in his remaining five races, with three coming on the Grand Circuit, but was third in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington's Red Mile. Captain Groovy opened this season with consecutive victories in conditioned races, including a 1:48 score over older horses on June 20 at The Meadowlands. That time is tied for second fastest among all 3-year-old pacers this year. He then finished second in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Harrah's Philadelphia and fourth in a PASS split last week at The Meadows. "Last year, he started out like some sort of a monster," Taylor said. "Ray did the right thing, he put him in the Stallion Series to get him some education and not stretch him out expecting he would be real good at the end of the year. Then he sort of flattened out, but when he went to Lexington he raced real well. "We turned him out sort of fresh, and when we brought him back this year, I couldn't believe how good he was. The second start, he came first up against some good older horses and blew them away. I was in shock. I'm just hoping it's not a repeat of last year. I don't know what to think about that horse. He's made me a liar every day, both ways." Captain Groovy is a son of Captaintreacherous and first foal out of Lets Groove Tonite. He sold for $90,000 at the 2018 Lexington Selected Sale and in addition to Taylor is owned by Schnittker, Ted Gewertz, and Mary Kinsey Arnold. Taylor has never owned an Adios winner, with his best finish of second coming in 2010 with Versado. Captain Groovy's driver, MacDonald, won the Adios in 2012 with Bolt The Duer. "(Captain Groovy) has got the speed to go with anyone," Taylor said. "I'm hoping for the best. When he's on, he's as good as any. I'm hoping this is a good week." The second elimination of the Adios features Meadowlands Pace runner-up Papi Rob Hanover as well as Pace finalist Captain Barbossa and recent PASS division winners Sea Of Life and No Lou Zing, who has won three consecutive starts since a second-place finish in his seasonal debut. In the third elim, 2019 Ohio Sire Stakes champion and world-record-holder Elver Hanover will look to rebound from his first loss in 11 career races against a field that includes 2020 New Jersey Sire Stakes champ Rockin The Aces and Meadowlands Pace finalists Capt Midnight and Catch The Fire. Racing begins at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at The Meadows. The $25,000 Adios eliminations are races five, eight and nine. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

DOVER, DE - Jack Vernon makes it two out of three wins in the Winners Over/Open Trot at Dover Downs on Tuesday night. Elysium Lindy and Home’n Dry left quickly and established an early race position.  Elysium Lindy forced Home’n Dry to take a seat in the pocket at the quarterpole. The 4/5 race favorite, Jack Vernon lingered on the outside for the speed to settle, then made his move.  Elysium Lindy cut the early fractions of a rapid :26.1 then backed the half to :55.3, a 29.2 quarter. Nearing the half Jack Vernon and driver Tim Tetrick made their move and pounced on the leader and pressured Elysium Lindy to the three quarters in 1:23.1.  They trotted a 27.3 third quarter.  Home’N Dry vacated the pocket near the three quarter pole and anticipated a 2nd over journey behind Jack Vernon that would carry him into the stretch.  Unfortunately, Home’N Dry made a break.   Jack Vernon disposed of a tiring pace setter Elysium Lindy. The 7 year old trotted clear by the field in the stretch.    Blue Bird Jesse was able to avoid the breaking Home’N Dry near the three quarter pole and closed to be second.   Faithfulandtrue closed from last to pick up the show spot. Jack Vernon won by a safe, length in 1:53. He scored his second win in three starts against Open company at Dover Downs. He is owned by Howard Taylor and Mike Casalino Jr. and trained by Dylan Davis. Bluebird Jesse finished 2nd for driver Alan Davis and trainer Jim King Jr. Faithfulandtrue and driver Mike Cole for trainer Joe Columbo earned the show spot. Valuable Art looks to make it back to back wins in 10th race  Mares Open Pace at Dover Downs on Wednesday night. Post Time is 4:30 pm. by Alex Kraszewski, for Dover Downs

The harness racing industry has the extremely rare opportunity to purchase one of the few fillies to capture the prestigious Hambletonian. Hambletonian champion Atlanta, the first filly to capture the Hambletonian in 22 years with her 2018 victory, won eight races and more than $1 million this past season. The daughter of Chapter Seven - Hemi Blue Chip never finished worse than third as a sophomore, and along with her coveted victory in the Hambo added wins in the Kentucky Filly Futurity, her Breeders Crown elimination, Empire Breeders Classic elimination and final and two New York Sires Stakes events to her resume.   Atlanta will receive the Dan Patch Award as 2018's Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in the U.S on February 23. Atlanta was listed on www.OnGait.com on Tuesday night (February 12) with a starting bid of $500,000. The now four-year-old is entered in an online auction with bids closing Friday, February 15 at 1:00 p.m. According to the listing, Atlanta is "selling to the highest bidder due to a true partnership dispute" with current owners listed as Rick Zeron, Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant. On January 9, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issued Zeron a fine of $10,000 and suspension of 180 days, which he has since appealed. "After a well-deserved vacation, she is back jogging at Sunshine Meadows in South Florida as she prepares for her 2019 campaign," the owner's statement on Atlanta continued. "Staked to the world." From OnGait.com

For the third consecutive year, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program has offered the Breeders Crown Pledge to the industry's leading owners, trainers and drivers as a way to give to back to the horses that are no longer racing by pledging a percentage of their earnings to New Vocations. Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC graciously were the first trainer and ownership group to join, and they had a stellar evening winning three Breeders Crown championships with Dorsoduro Hanover, Warrawee Ubeaut and Percy Blue Chip. "As a group we feel it is so important to give back to the horses as they are obviously the true stars of the sport," stated Mark Weaver. Diamond Creek Racing joined for the first time this year pledging all four of their horses, with Proof coming in a strong second in the 2-Year-Old Colt Pace and Pure Country finishing third in the Mare Pace. "We applaud the efforts of New Vocations, who with the support of others is able to directly contribute to the successful futures of many of these horses," said Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Racing. Owner Howard Taylor pledged his Breeders Crown winner Tactical Landing in the 3-Year-Old Colt Trot and Hambletonian winner Atlanta, who was a close second in the 3-Year-Old Filly Trot. The team behind Breeders Crown Mare Pace winner Shartin N was on board as the husband-wife training combination of Jim King, Jr. and Jo Ann Looney-King along with driver Tim Tetrick. "It really is exciting to see the industry's leading professionals giving back through their horses' success via this pledge," said Standardbred Program Director Winnie Morgan Nemeth. "We are very grateful for each and every horse that raced for us last Saturday night." New Vocations would like to thank all pledge supporters including first-time pledgers Dandy Farms, Odds on Racing and Holland Racing Stables. "This pledge helps us rehab, retrain and rehome over 100 retired Standardbreds annually through our proven adoption model. It is truly win-win for all involved," said Morgan-Nemeth. To learn more about New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, visit www.NewVocations.org. From New Vocations

Prominent owners are stepping up to support aftercare by participating in the New Vocations Breeders Crown Pledge. This event asks owners, trainers and drivers of Breeders Crown finalists to pledge a percentage of their earnings or commissions from the championship races Saturday night. No amount is too small. Every dollar goes toward the rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming of Standardbreds leaving the track. So far, Diamond Creek Farm has pledged their exceptional 2-year-old pacing colts Proof and Blood Money, as well as their stellar 3-year-pacing colt Grand Teton and the awesome aged pacing mare Pure Country.  Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi have pledged their ownership interests in the crack 2-year-old pacing fillies St Somewhere and Warrawee Ubeaut, along with the extremely fast 3-year-old pacing filly Double A Mint and the 3-year-old pacing star Dorsoduro Hanover. Howard Taylor has pledged for his interest in the amazing elimination winners Atlanta, Tactical Landing and Shnitzledosomethin. Jim and Joanne King just came on as trainers. "Diamond Creek Farm has always stressed the importance of aftercare for the Standardbred, from our herd of retired mares to our ex-racehorse babysitters,” said farm owner Adam Bowden. “We applaud the efforts of New Vocations, who with the support of others is able to directly contribute to the successful futures of many of these horses.  "The Standardbred is sadly often overlooked as a riding horse. Intelligent and durable, they can be some of the best companions in the ring or on the trail. Diamond Creek believes it is important to promote the versatility of the breed.  We are proud to continue to support New Vocations through this pledge. Through their training and rehoming program, they have been able to educate the public on the attributes of the Standardbred as a riding companion and have provided successful and happy 2nd careers for many deserving animals." New Vocations continues to seek pledges from additional owners, trainers and drivers through Saturday. Any that have not pledged but feel especially blessed following the races are encouraged to consider donating to this important effort. To make a pledge, contact Winnie Morgan Nemeth 734-320-7918 or winnie@horseadoption.com or Dot Morgan 937-947-4020 ordot@horseadoption.com or go to newvocations.org/breeders-crown-pledge. by Dot Morgan, for New Vocations

WASHINGTON, PA, July 25, 2018 -- Bella's Punkett released the 1-2 favorite, Expose Yourself, past the quarter, then charged past her in the lane to capture Wednesday's feature at The Meadows, a $13,000 Filly & Mare Conditioned/Optional Claiming Trot. Bella's Punkett was claimed from her last race at Harrah's Philadelphia by trainer Ron Burke for owner Howard Taylor for a base price of $12,500. Though she faced several disadvantages -- new track, sloppy surface, big jump in class to a $30,000 base claiming tag -- the 6-year-old daughter of Super Punk-Nubella responded beautifully. She left alertly for Dan Rawlings, rated kindly and downed Expose Yourself by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54.3, with the first-over Keystone Harper third. Bella's Punkett lifted her career bankroll to $109,244. Tony Hall and Jim Pantaleano each piloted three winners on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday, with an Adios Eve card that features a pair of Grand Circuit stakes: the $60,800 Judge Joe McGraw for 2-year-old filly trotters and the $40,400 Ed Ryan for freshman colt and gelding trotters. Special post time is 5:30 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Just as Delaware Governor John Carney on Tuesday made the first legal single game sports wager in the country outside of Nevada, the US Postal Service was bringing harness racing horsemen and women in the First State letters that has created quite a stir. The Delaware Harness Racing Commission has sent registered letters to owners and trainers asking for very specific horse records to be sent to them. Horse people who reside outside of Delaware have also received the letter if they raced a horse in the state. The letter starts off “The Delaware Harness Racing Commission (DHRC) is conducting an in-depth review of the ownership and management of horses raced at Delaware tracks over the past few years. What they are asking for includes showing the purchasing and selling prices on all horse; record of payments from racetracks; documentation of payments to all owners; training bill to all owners, bank statement, tax returns, 1099’s and W-2’s and the list goes on and on, more than 20 items are being asked for. Harnesslink talked with noted attorney and prominent harness racing owner, Howard Taylor, who also received a letter today. “I got one,” Taylor started off saying. “What they are asking for is worse than an IRS audit. “I am going to comply to the best of my ability within reason,” Taylor explained. “They say in the letter that they are looking for is hidden ownership. I am not going to give them a lot of items including my tax returns. I don’t keep 1099’s and I don’t know what my accountant does with them. “They ask for, which is unbelievable,” Taylor added. “Is for mine and my spouse’s financial incomes. They want access to my personal business records. I don’t think so.” Taylor said his has talked to numerous horse people Wednesday. “My phone has been exploding all day,” Taylor exaggerated. “One client I talked to said he has already talked with his accountant and was told it could cost up to $10,000 to comply. I also had another call from an owner who said he might just get out of the business. “I talked with another attorney,” Taylor said. “and he said if everyone were to comply the files would fill a warehouse. This could take nine agents up to a year to go through everything. “I also got a letter with the names of my horses that they want full records on,” Taylor said. “And one of the horses on the list I don’t ever remember owning. I had five horses on my list. Another owner I talked with said he has 80 horses on his list.” What is next for the horsemen and women to do? “I really don’t have a lot of answers right now,” Taylor said. “I have yet to even talk with the horsemen’s association in Delaware. Taylor said legal proceedings are being developed. If people do not comply with what the Delaware Harness Racing Commission is requesting, the letter states that…”failure to supply the requested information may result in horses being placed on the Steward’s list. In addition, other penalties may apply including fines and suspension or revocation of your license.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

An aggrieved harness racing bettor has gone to court to recoup more than $31,000 in winnings he said he was cheated out of when a doped horse won a race in New Jersey two years ago. Leading figures in harness racing said they had never before heard of such a lawsuit, which accuses the trainer of fraud and racketeering. The general practice is to reallocate the purse to other owners in the event a winning horse is later proven to have been doped, but not to pay back bettors. The trainer's lawyer said the lawsuit was flawed, and that he might demand its retraction. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, represents an effort by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to open the gates for more litigation by bettors, which the animal rights group hopes would dramatically curtail illegal horse doping. PETA contends that injured horses are sometimes dying on the tracks because they were doped illegally or overmedicated to keep them running when they should be recuperating. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jeffrey Tretter, an experienced gambler from Granite City, Illinois. The lawsuit says Tretter placed wagers through an online betting site on a harness race at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Jan. 15, 2016. The horses he picked to place first through fourth instead finished behind Tag Up and Go, who had been a longshot in the race. Meadowlands later revealed that Tag Up and Go had tested positive for EPO, a banned performance-enhancing substance, based on blood samples taken in December. As a result, trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr. was barred from competing at Meadowlands, but there was no redress for bettors such as Tretter. According to his lawsuit, he correctly picked the horses that finished second, third, fourth and fifth behind the doped horse in a variety of wagers that would have paid a combined $31,835 if Tag Up and Go had been disqualified. The lawsuit alleges fraud on the part of Bresnahan and the company that owned Tag Up and Go. It also alleges violations of the federal and state anti-racketeering laws known as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), contending that the federal law was violated because Bresnahan was engaging in interstate commerce. The suit asks that Tretter be recompensed for his lost winnings in the race and be awarded additional punitive damages. Bresnahan, who runs a stable in Manalapan, New Jersey, referred The Associated Press to his lawyer, Howard Taylor, who said the lawsuit would not hold up in court. According to Taylor, the testing involving Tag Up and Go has no official standing in the U.S. legal system because it was conducted at a racing lab in Hong Kong. He also said the suspension imposed by the Meadowlands on Bresnahan was the act of a private business, and did not represent any official finding of wrongdoing by the trainer. Taylor said he planned to contact the New Jersey law office representing Tretter, demanding that they retract the lawsuit and apologize to Bresnahan. "If not, we're looking into filing a suit for libel," Taylor said. In February 2016, Bresnahan issued a statement insisting he neither administered EPO to Tag Up and Go, nor authorized anyone else to do so. "This news was a complete shock to me and obviously very upsetting," he wrote. Shortly after that statement appeared, Meadowlands announced that a second horse of Bresnahan's had tested positive for EPO. Bresnahan also was fined and suspended for 60 days for illegally administering the painkiller oxymorphone to a horse called Mr. Caviar in 2012, according to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. The owner of Meadowlands, Jeff Gural, has been among the leaders in harness racing trying to curb doping. The Tag Up and Go doping case emerged through one of his initiatives, establishing "out of competition" drug testing that subjects horses to the possibility of testing at any time. But he said unscrupulous trainers are constantly changing tactics to avoid detection. "It's a cat and mouse game, the same as in human sports," Gural said. "They know what drugs are being tested for — they try to stay one step ahead." There has been some federal engagement in the fight against horse doping. For example, a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania last year won the conviction of a horse trainer at Penn National race track on charges of conspiring with three veterinarians to fraudulently administer prescription drugs for her horses on race days. There is also a bill pending in Congress that would establish a national anti-doping and medication authority for horse racing in the U.S., operated under the oversight of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, known as USADA. The bill, introduced in the House last year, has not advanced out of committee. Gural said he supports the bill as a needed step toward standardizing rules that now vary among the 38 different racing jurisdictions in the U.S. Many leading harness racing figures oppose the bill, including Mike Tanner, CEO of the U.S. Trotting Association. "There are too many holes in it," said Tanner, who worries that the bill would impose significant new costs on owners to underwrite additional drug testing. PETA is critical of horse racing, but is pushing for reforms rather than actively campaigning for an all-out ban. The group hopes the lawsuit will curtail doping. "Horses continue to be drugged, bettors get cheated, and trainers get slaps on the wrist," said PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo. "Maybe if they're hit squarely in the wallet, they will pay attention and stop hurting horses." By David Crary Reprinted with permission of ABC News

The following letter was submitted by harness racing owner Howard Taylor. It seems that the industry is not concerned, but I believe that everyone in harness racing should be up in arms over the recent announcement from the partnership of Jeff Gural and WEG. For those who live in a cocoon, these entities have announced that they will bar owners of horses from participating at their tracks if one of their horses tests positive for a class 1 or 2 medication, as well as a TCO2 or steroid positive. In this day and age of advanced testing at microscopic, nonperformance enhancing levels, it is non just likely, but probable that many innocents will suffer. Imagine you were a small time trainer, in the business all your life with marginal success. You finally get the big horse you wanted for all your life. You have him prepped for the Meadowlands Pace or North America Cup. But days before you enter, one of the owners of your horse has a trainer in another state, who you never met, receive a positive for a class 2 substance at 5 Picograms (Billionth of a gram). Your horse is now barred from the race. How about the big owner with horses in many different barns, with many different partners. A trainer gets a positive with a horse you never heard of, but which is owned by someone whom you have only marginal dealings. You may have never met him (think fractional ownership) BARRED! You wonder how this is legal as you make your stakes payments faithfully, and the track accepted them. However, the courts have rules that this is legal. They own the tracks so they can make the Rules. They can even change them on a whim as we have seen them do, when it affects their interests adversely. They not only believe that they can dictate terms, but also how you can race. I used to own a small part of Lady Shadow. She regularly beat most horses, including one name Solar Sister. Solar Sister is owned by Clay Horner, Chairman of the Board of WEG. Two weeks before last years Roses Are Red Stake, I received a call from Jaime Martin, the Director of Racing. He told me that he was being pressured to not allow her to participate while she was trained by Ron Adams. He suggested that we switch trainers. I asked if Adams was barred and he acknowledged that Ron regularly raced there. He indicated that she would likely be barred if Adams trained her at the time of entry. Against my suggested we gave in and switched barns. Incredibly, Ron Adams was allowed to race another horse in the same race. These people are petty and vengeful. They are intent on ruining the sport they claim to be saving. In his announcement, Clay Horner couldn't help himself but to cite Lady Shadow as an example of conduct he is seeking to correct. Yet, Lady Shadow was found with an excessive level of Clenbuterol, a Class 3 substance, and thus would not have been affected by the Rule. Traditionally, horsemen don't get involved until it affects them or their pockets. This Rules is so far reaching that it likely will affect many. Unfortunately, by then it will be too late. Horsemen must do something now, before it is too late. We should just refuse to stake horses to races they control. We should avoid the entry box at their tracks. Turn on them before they turn on you. I personally own a lot of horses with many different trainers. Some I have no control over. But, I have asked my trainers to avoid racing at Freehold North (The Meadowlands) when possible. I have several top caliber horses which will not be staked to races controlled by these egomaniacs. And, if it does affect me personally, I will simply exit the business. Forewarned is forearmed. Horsemen beware! Howard Taylor,  Philadelphia, PA  

The actions taken yesterday by Jeffrey Gural in barring harness racing champion mare Lady Shadow from The Golden Girls is both unprecedented and shows how vindictive an individual he is.   Lady Shadow had a clenbuterol average of 2.9 Pica grams, or parts per billion.   This is a trace amount of a therapeutic medication routinely used by Horseman. It certainly had no performance-enhancing effect on the horse, specially at that level.    Gural clearly has a personal agenda against Lady Shadow who he has repeatedly attempted to bar from the Meadowlands.   Obviously he has an agenda against me as well for the mere fact that I exercised my constitutional right to sue him an attempt to force him to honor his contractual obligations.          Obviously the owners of Lady Shadow are extremely disappointed and will do whatever they can within their legal rights to have the mare race on Saturday.        It should be pointed out that the matter remains under appeal and we are contesting the positive and any penalty in Pennsylvania.   There simply is no rule in the state of New Jersey or even under Gural rules which would allow for him two bar a horse based upon a pending positive under appeal and Stay.   Gural repeatedly makes rules up as he goes along and then changes and breaks them as he sees fit.   There are many horses currently racing at The Meadowlands who also had positives pending but they were allowed to race without complaint.   Mr. Gural is a first class bully and unfairly creates rules to allow him to do what he wants when he wants.   It's his ball and he feels that he can take it and leave when somebody doesn't kiss his ring.   It must stop at some point for the good of the sport.   Howard Taylor

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) was saddened to learn of the passing of trainer and driver Howard Taylor at the weekend. Howard featured on Len Baker’s Harness Review program on January 23. Click here to listen to that program (the interview begins 52mins 59secs in). Howard was renowned for driving winners at many tracks across Australia, mentioning in his January interview on radio that he drove winners “at 84 different tracks around Australia”. Today Howard prepared trotting mare Celtic Rose to run in Race 3 at Tabcorp Park Melton and the horse will race under his name for driver Josh Duggan. HRV will advise funeral details of Howard when they come to hand and extends condolences to friends and family. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands currently faces a lawsuit over the cancellation of the 2017 edition of the Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic and Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for three-year-old pacers, filed by an owner claiming eligibility. (Harnesslink has reported that the owner is attorney Howard Taylor)   While it pleased no one in Meadowlands management to exercise its right to cancel a stake, the reality is that with the purse account overpaid by more than $5 million at the end of 2016 there was little choice but to do so if management is to satisfy its many obligations to the numerous stakeholders who rely on the viability of our track and the industry.   Aside from the issues encountered in our continuing to fund these losses, The Meadowlands is required to demonstrate a plan for solvency to those financial institutions that hold the mortgage on the property. A part of that process is to submit a budget for all facets of the racing business, a budget to which it must abide. The purse/stakes account is one element of that budget. With no alternative source of revenue on the horizon, and with a handle on both live racing and the import simulcast (the largest revenue stream to purses) declining each year, The Meadowlands purse account faces the prospect of another substantial loss in 2017. Many options, short of exercising its clear right to cancel the Miss NJ and NJ Classic races,were considered ,including a dramatic reduction in stakes races, which would have serious ramifications to the industry. At first the decision was made to try and continue with as many stakes as possible. A sponsorship call went out within the industry to support the 2017 stakes program. That call, the response to which was well received for which we are grateful, did not cure the dilemma. A few stakes were still required to be deleted to meet budget, among them the NJ Classic and Miss NJ . This is largely due, but not exclusively, to the fact that  there are so few horses eligible to the NJSS program, particularly pacers. In last year's sophomore NJSS colt pace there were seven entered in each of the two legs and six entered the final. At the same time, neither the SBOANJ nor the Sire Stake Board had any funds available. In 2016 The Meadowlands, without obligation, added  $150,000 of the $235,000 in total purses for the NJ Classic and Miss NJ to run these stakes . For the foregoing reasons, among others, that option is simply not viable in 2017 . The fact is that $150,000 has to come from somewhere, so if The Meadowlands is forced to hold these races, others must be dropped from the schedule. The current plan would be for the Meadowlands to exercise its right to cancel the two Meadowlands races for older mare pacers, the Golden Girls and Lady Liberty which each require $65,000 in added money. Any payments made to these stakes would be refunded if that were to occur.  From the Meadowlands

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