RUTHERFORD, NJ -- June 4, 2016 -- Harness racing President Mark Ford along with Anthony Perretti and Mike Gulotta aligned forces with top state Democrats, county officials and union leaders on Friday at a news conference to convey their confidence to the public that casino gambling will be brought to the northern part of the state. Among those who spoke in favor of the expansion were Democrats Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Paul Sarlo, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Bob Gordon, and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney stood at the conference in front of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce stating that bringing casino gambling to the area was “the right thing to do for the whole state.” "This gives us an opportunity to create thousands and thousands of construction jobs in the northern part of the state of New Jersey," Sweeney said. "But guess what; it gives us the ability to create thousands and thousands of jobs in the southern part of the state and helps us to rebuild Atlantic City, and gives Atlantic City the opportunity to be the destination we want it to be." Building northern casinos will have a ripple effect that will benefit the economy state wide, not just Bergen County, according to County Executive Tedesco. The Meadowlands is not the only proposed location, Hudson and Essex County are also being considered. However, it is the most important location for New Jersey horsemen. Tedesco believes the Meadowlands is a “perfect spot” for gaming expansion it is already a “premier entertainment destination” because of the Met Life Stadium, large-scale concerts and the current development of the American Dream project that already take place in the area. “The best is yet to come especially when we add casino gaming to the mix.” The public will have the opportunity to vote this November on whether or not casinos should be expanded via ballot question. New Jersey Senate Democrats released figures that state casinos could generate an estimated $4 billion in economic activity, and up to 20,000 construction and permanent jobs in North Jersey. The Atlantic City region will also benefit with $3 billion and thousands of jobs. It is very important that all horsemen go out and vote in favor of casino expansion this November. Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ
After years of sparring about the best way to split the pot, Michigan's two remaining horse tracks (thoroughbred and harness racing) have found some common ground when it comes to divvying up the money from bets placed on horse races. That consensus, though, hasn't yet reached other parts of the business that owners of both tracks say will be necessary if the industry is going to be relevant in the 21st century — namely, the introduction of electronic wagering. Past efforts didn't bear fruit. And now the tracks — Hazel Park Raceway, which holds thoroughbred races, and Northville Downs, which runs standardbred harness races — find themselves on opposite sides of proposed legislation that initially attempted to resolve the issue. Executives at Northville Downs say the bill as written is a nonstarter, even after a controversial provision that would have allowed some Internet-based wagering at the tracks was stripped from the bill on the Senate floor. In response, Hazel Park Raceway and its affiliated horsemen's group, the Howell-based Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, say they intend to ask the Michigan Gaming Control Board to pursue online wagering as an administrative rule change, rather than in statute. The practice, known as advance deposit wagering, would allow people to place bets on simulcast races from their cellphones or tablets without having to visit a track. Current law requires anyone betting on horse racing to do so from within a track. Hazel Park and Northville Downs consider online betting on horse races an extension of what they already do, replacing paper with the mobile devices that people carry everywhere. TheMichigan Lottery has introduced online games, which track owners believe is essentially the same thing. And because more than 95 percent of the tracks' wagering revenue comes from people who place bets on simulcast races, rather than live ones, the interest in electronic wagering is also financial. The tracks say they're competing for business against out-of-state mobile wagering sites that don't pay state taxes and don't offer a cut of the proceeds to support either track and their affiliated horse owners' group. Earlier versions of Senate Bill 504, sponsored by state Sen. David Robertson, included a provision that would have allowed the horse track with the larger handle during the past five years to operate advance deposit wagering. By numbers alone, Hazel Park had the larger simulcast handle — $56.6 million in 2015, compared to $45 million for Northville Downs, according to Michigan Gaming Control Board figures. "I would have had to take everybody to court," said Mike Carlo, Northville Downs' operations manager. "That was the biggest slap in the face I've ever seen in this industry. "In our world, we live under the purview of our license," he added. "Basically, what it would have done is it would have said that Hazel Park has a different license to operate pari-mutuel wagering in a manner that Northville Downs can't." The bill that passed the Senate does not include that language. Instead, it would allow Michigan's racing commissioner to draft administrative rules to govern the practice. The Michigan Gaming Control Board, which regulates the horse industry along with Detroit's three commercial casinos, opposed the earlier version of the bill. Robertson, R-Grand Blanc Township, said the board and harness racing groups wanted the language removed. A 2004 amendment to the Michigan Constitution requires a statewide vote for any expansion of gaming. The board has not yet publicly said whether it would consider authorizing advance deposit wagering. Robertson, track owners and horsemen's groups all say they don't believe the practice would violate the constitutional provision. "The (board) will have to see what the options and its authority are if the bill becomes law," gaming board spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean said via email. The bill could get a hearing in the House agriculture committee this week after clearing the Senate last week in a 30-7 vote. A new formula? Robertson's bill would be the first update to Michigan's 1995 horse racing statute. Among other things, it would rewrite the formula that distributes revenue from wagers. Currently, all wagers placed on simulcast races at Hazel Park and Northville Downs are pooled into a common purse, where it's split between the tracks and horsemen's groups. Track owners say that setup made more sense years ago, when Michigan had more horse tracks in operation. But waning interest in horse racing led to the closure of seven tracks since 1998, leaving just two tracks. Hazel Park and Northville Downs essentially compete for the same audience, despite the fact that they don't race the same breeds of horses, and have lost money as the wagering pool decreased. Thus, competition for market share has become increasingly important. Today, the common purse is divided in a way that offers roughly 65 percent of the proceeds to the harness racing standardbreds, after winners and a 3.5 percent state tax are paid, with the rest going to the thoroughbreds. Robertson's bill would eliminate the common purse in favor of a "site-specific" model, meaning all of the wagers placed at Northville Downs and Hazel Park would stay at the respective tracks. "Horse racing has had very tough times. It's been diminishing as a sport, and this is an attempt to try to amend the law in a way that will help all of racing," Robertson said. "This language is archaic." Northville Downs agreed to the funding formula change, which ultimately is a concession that would award them a smaller share of the simulcast purse pool than they receive now. But Carlo and the Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association say the change triggers a problem with a different section of the bill, which they believe would require Hazel Park's owners to sign off each time Northville Downs wanted to simulcast a thoroughbred horse race. Their fear is that Hazel Park and thoroughbred groups could block Northville Downs from simulcasting the Kentucky Derby, for instance, since the money collected under the new model would not be shared with Hazel Park and thoroughbred owners. "Since the dawn of simulcasting, all tracks have taken all breeds," said Tom Barrett, president of the harness horsemen's group. "We are only going to support a bill that treats both tracks the same." George Kutlenios, president of the thoroughbred horsemen's association, said his group doesn't intend to prevent Northville Downs from showing thoroughbred races. "I don't know why we would not want to send a signal," Kutlenios said. "The more signals, the more product you have to offer. I can't even envision a scenario where that makes sense." Simulcast dollars The fight over simulcast revenue in some ways explains the desire for advance deposit wagering. Simulcast wagers contributed $3.6 million in state tax revenue last year, a drop of 9 percent from 2014, according to the gaming control board. And the roughly $106 million wagered on live and simulcast races last year is well below the $261 million bet in 2007. Kutlenios said he has heard some industry estimates peg the amount wagered illegally in Michigan through services in other states at between $90 million and $120 million. Robertson also sponsored Senate Bill 505, which would make it a felony to accept wagers on live or simulcast horse races in Michigan without a license. That bill also moved to the House. Proponents say they want to stop vendors like TwinSpires, which is owned by Churchill Downs, from taking unlicensed wagers from potential track visitors that otherwise could be used to support Michigan's race tracks. "There are people right now on site using their phones but not wagering even through us," said Dan Adkins, vice president of Southfield-based real estate developer Hartman and Tyner Inc., which owns Hazel Park Raceway. Carlo, of Northville Downs, said Michigan's horse tracks could make inroads into the market for advance deposit wagering if a third-party vendor managed it on behalf of both tracks, rather than allowing one track to operate at the expense of the other. "We're in favor of it being in place somehow and some way," he said, "but I don't think we have figured out the best way for our industry in Michigan." By Lindsay Vanhulle Reprinted with permission of the Crain's Detroit site
To help drivers understand how Stewards in NSW will regulate the new Australian whip rules, Harness Racing New South Wales has produced a full breakdown of the new interpretation. HRNSW has developed penalty guidelines to impose penalties for those that breach the rules and encourage drivers to curtail their whip action to reduce the risk of infringing again. The follow penalty structure will be in use in NSW and is a reflection of the national policy. 1st Offence Fine $200 2nd Offence – if a driver reoffends in a period of 60 drives or a period 60 days, whichever occurs first, of the 1st Offence Fine $400 3rd Offence - if a driver reoffends in a period of 60 drives or a period 60 days, whichever occurs first, of the 2nd Offence Fine $400 and 7 days suspension 4th Offence - if a driver reoffends in a period of 60 drives or a period 60 days, whichever occurs first, of the 3rd Offence Fine $1,000 and/or 14 days suspension (at the discretion of the Stewards) 5th Offence - if a driver reoffends in a period of 60 drives or a period 60 days, whichever occurs first, of the 4th Offence 21 days suspension HRNSW interpretations of Rule 156(4), which essentially explains the correct use of the whip, are as follows: A Driver who drives (apart from activating approved gear), or uses the whip, with a free hand or in any or all of the following would be in breach of the whip Rules, that is using the whip in “an unapproved manner”. Draws the tip of the whip further than the Drivers shoulder. If the whip hand is drawn back further than or above the Driver’s shoulder. If the whip action involves more than a wrist or elbow action. If the reins are lengthened so as to result in loose reining regardless of whether the whip is being used at the same time.“Loose reining” is considered to occur, but not exclusively, when the reins act in a “whipping motion” on the hindquarters of the horse. If the whip is used other than in a flicking motion. If the whip continues to be applied to a horse which is considered to; (i) not be visibly responding; (ii) be out of contention; (iii) no longer be maintaining or improving its position; (iv) be winning clearly; Use the whip in a "side" action so as to be outside the confines of the sulky Use of the whip irrespective of whether the whip is striking the splash sheet or sulky shaft, a driver's whip action can still warrant a charge under the rules In instances where a Driver is found to have breached the “Whip Rules” on more than eight (8) occasions in any twelve month period HRNSW may require the Driver to show cause as to why he remain licensed by the Controlling Body. In the event a Driver is required to show cause the Controlling Body may direct that the Driver not be permitted to drive pending the said Driver responding to such Notice. Greg Hayes
A local harness racing trainer who injected a racehorse with performance-enhancing drugs in 2010, then was caught six weeks later intending to do it again, has been fined $3,750 and is “branded with the scarlet letter of a cheat,” the prosecutor in the case said Friday. Derek Riesberry’s convictions for fraud over $5,000 and attempted fraud over $5,000 mark the first time in Canada horse doping was prosecuted criminally, instead of having regulatory agencies such as the Ontario Racing Commission hand out fines and suspensions. Riesberry, 46, now carries a criminal record, noted assistant Crown attorney Brian Manarin, speaking at the end of a 5½-year legal odyssey that took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. “He’s been branded with the scarlet letter of a cheat, which is a terrible thing,” he said. “He’s going to have to do a lot of things to make amends for shooting up a horse with a performance-enhancing drug.” Manarin said there’s a difference between cyclist Lance Armstrong using performance-enhancing drugs and Riesberry injecting them into a horse, Everyone’s Fantasy, before it ran in Race 6 on Sept. 28, 2010, at Windsor Raceway. “The horse has no choice,” said Manarin. The horse was a defenceless victim in the hands of an unscrupulous trainer, Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin said as he passed sentence — a $2,500 fine for the fraud (injecting a horse) and $1,250 for attempted fraud (being caught with drug-filled syringes). People bet $12,746 on Race 6. Though Everyone’s Fantasy was injected with the drugs prior to the race, it finished in sixth place, out of the money. On Nov. 7, 2010, Riesberry was intending to inject another horse, Good Long Life, but was caught before he had the chance. The horse was scratched from Race 3. The public placed bets totalling $11,758. Horse doping threatens the horse industry’s reputation and sends the public to other forms of gaming, Hugh Mitchell, the CEO of Western Fair and a longtime horse racing executive, said in an impact statement to the court. “It’s imperative the bettors always feel they are betting on a fair and ethical product,” he said. “Those who threaten (the industry’s) future through fraudulent practices must be held accountable.” Mitchell said he’s seen the “deplorable” effects of drug abuse on horses. “These horses are strong, beautiful, loyal animals and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” Riesberry’s licence is suspended. He has been working on a local farm, taking home $465 a week. His lawyer Andrew Bradie said his client has no intention of ever getting back in the business. “I believe he realizes he made a mistake and shouldn’t have done it and he’ll never do it again,” Bradie said outside the courthouse. Speaking to the Star’s Nick Brancaccio as he left the courthouse, Riesberry said: “It’s over with, glad to be done and I’m moving forward with my life.” Both sides in this case thought the fine was fair. Riesberry had no previous criminal record, and he had no record of problems with the racing commission. Though he made a serious error in judgment, he shouldn’t go to jail, Manarin said. “But he should get a criminal record, which is what he got.” Manarin said the decision to go after Riesberry criminally was made in 2010 at the request of the OPP. Officers who investigated the horse doping told him that some of the penalties imposed by the racing commission were not enough to deter people, Manarin said. Now that Riesberry is convicted, “we’ll just see how it shakes out with respect to less or more cheating in the industry.” A second local trainer, Chris Haskell, is facing similar allegations, but his case has been delayed while awaiting the outcome of Riesberry’s case. Drugging horses to enhance their performance is animal abuse, Ontario Racing Commission CEO Jean Major said in an impact statement to the court. Not only is it cheating, but it also can injure the horse as well as endanger everyone else participating in a race, he said. “The offence has brought the integrity of horse racing into question,” he writes. “If allowed to continue without appropriate deterrents, such conduct could jeopardize the future of a multimillion-dollar sector of the Ontario economy.” by Brian Cross for The Windsor Star Reprinted with permission of The Windsor Star
Racing Queensland (RQ) Stewards today inquired into the circumstances relating to a report received from the Queensland Government Racing Science Centre (RSC) that SOTALOL, a prohibited substance under the Australian Harness Racing Rules, had been detected in a pre race urine sample taken from FAMILY DECISION prior to it competing in Race 1 at Albion Park on 15 January 2016. Evidence was taken from the registered trainer of FAMILY DECISION, Mr Noel Parrish, who explained the circumstances leading up to the race and the husbandry practices adopted in the days prior. After considering all the evidence provided, Mr Parrish was charged pursuant to AHR rule 190(1) which reads: “A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances.” The particulars of the charge being that Mr Parrish presented FAMILY DECISION to race at Albion Park on 15 January 2016 when a urine sample taken from that horse was found upon analysis, to contain the prohibited substance SOTALOL. Mr Parrish was found guilty of the charge as issued. When assessing the matter of penalty Stewards took into account: The nature of the substance concerned The particulars of the case The licence history of Noel Parrish which indicated one prior breach of this rule over a thirty year period The need for a penalty to serve as a deterrent to illustrate that drug free racing is of paramount importance to the integrity of harness racing. The trainer’s and driver’s licence of Mr Parrish was suspended for a period of six months effective immediately. Acting under AHR Rule 195, FAMILY DECISION was disqualified from its sixth placing in Race 1 at Albion Park on 15 January 2016. Mr Parrish was advised of his rights of appeal. Stewards report - Noel Parrish D Farquharson, K Wolsey, N Torpey For more on SOTALOL click here.
Victoria’s harness racing industry is set to be revitalised under the leadership of a new board, with members highly skilled in the areas of integrity, animal welfare, marketing and governance taking office. Minister for Racing Martin Pakula today announced the appointment of seven members to the board of Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) following a four-month expression of interest process. Dale Monteith, former CEO of the Victoria Racing Club and the Melbourne Racing Club will chair the board. Former Rothaker Medallist Elizabeth Clarke, a long-time participant in the Victorian harness racing industry and a member of the board since 2012, has been appointed as deputy chair. The other members, who will each serve a three-year term, include veterinarian Catherine Ainsworth, media and communications expert Jane Brook, lawyer and integrity official Brett Clothier, former AFL Coaches Association CEO and passionate harness racing participant Danny Frawley and experienced public servant and harness breeder Peter Watkinson. The appointment of the new board follows key recommendations from the 2015 Audit of Harness Racing Victoria Report and subsequent amendments to the Racing Act 1958, introduced in October last year. The report recommended modernising the board membership and appointment process to allow for a greater balance of skills and expertise. Under the amendments, the Minister for Racing can now appoint individuals with the relevant skills, experience and knowledge necessary to assist HRV to carry out its functions. The Victorian harness racing industry contributes $421.8 million annually to the Victorian economy and supports almost 4000 full-time equivalent jobs, mainly in regional Victoria. Quotes attributable to Racing Minister Martin Pakula “I’m pleased to announce the appointment of the new members to the Board of Harness Racing Victoria today.” “The diverse range of skills and knowledge will enhance Harness Racing Victoria’s ability to develop and promote the sport in this state.” “The harness racing industry is a major contributor to the Victorian economy and supports jobs in our regional cities and towns.” “I thank the previous board members, including former chair Ken Latta, for the substantial contribution they have made to harness racing in Victoria.” Christine Tyrrell 0423 092 752 | Christine.email@example.com
Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards conducted an Inquiry on Friday 11 March 2016 into the conduct of Mr John Basham in that he failed to provide proper care to the registered standardbreds JUST TARZAN and SING AND SWING up to an including 18 January 2016 and had commenced to prepare those horses to race up to and including that date, whilst not the holder of an appropriate licence. An investigation was commenced on 18 January 2016 after HRNSW Stewards received a report that raised concerns with regards to the welfare of the subject horses. Mr Basham attended the Inquiry and provided evidence. Evidence was also presented to the Inquiry by HRNSW Stewards, Mr Travis Quick and Mr Phil Frost. After considering the evidence HRNSW Stewards issued the following charges against Mr Basham pursuant to the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR): AHRR 218. A person having responsibility for the welfare of a horse shall not fail to care for it properly. AHRR 203. A person shall not train a horse on a racecourse or training track unless that person holds a training licence. Mr Basham was found guilty of the charge pursuant to AHRR 218 and disqualified for a period of 2 years to commence immediately. In relation to the charge pursuant to AHRR 203, Mr Basham pleaded guilty and was disqualified for a period of one (1) month to be served concurrently. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; The serious nature of these offences; The pleas entered by Mr Basham; Mr Basham’s licence history and other personal subjective facts. Mr Basham was advised of his right of appeal. Reid Sanders
The Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner (the Commissioner) and Sportradar are pleased to announce the signing of the Cooperation and Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna and the Managing Director Security Services Andreas Krannich signed the Cooperation and Information Exchange MoU earlier this week. “This agreement, strengthens cooperation between my office and Sportradar, particularly with respect to information exchange, to assist sports’ controlling bodies to achieve their objectives in reducing the threat presented by criminal and corrupt conduct in Australian sport, particularly in the Victorian Racing Industry (VRI)” Mr Perna said. “The MOU not only helps both agencies gather and share relevant information, but leads to increasing the public confidence in racing.” The partnership underlines efforts to ensure the integrity of Victoria’s $2.8 billion racing industry, which employs approximately 60,000 people. “The MOU formalises the already existing cooperation between Sportradar and the Racing Integrity Commissioner and solidifies the strong ties between the two agencies. The Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner is one of the key sporting integrity units operating in Australia and our Security Services team look forward to working with them even more closely, utilising our integrity related wagering analysis, intelligence gathering and training experience to assist in upholding the integrity of all three codes of racing operating across Victoria. ” Mr Krannich said. Paul Stevens Manager Integrity Operations Sportradar +44 203 695 2214 Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner (03) 8684 7776
Police have moved to ban a Mokbel family associate and accused race-fixer from Victorian harness racing tracks. Paul Sequenzia was recently asked to leave a restricted area at a metropolitan meeting by Harness Racing Victoria investigators. They want to take that further and have made a submission for Victoria Police to ban him from tracks. Mr Sequenzia remains a regular presence at harness-racing meetings, to the concern of some industry figures. Allegations he has been involved in a cobalt horse-doping program and that he is connected to a race-fixing syndicate have some questioning what he is doing on-track. To read the full article written by Mark Buttler and Carly Crawford for The Herald Sun click on this link.
Governor Tom Wolf today signed House Bill 941, which, among other things, includes much-needed reforms of Pennsylvania's equine racing industry. The governor was joined by state Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, members of each of the legislative caucuses, leadership from the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, and various representatives of the racing industry. "Racing today is drastically different today than what it was 35 years ago when the last reform effort was put into law," Wolf said right after signing the bill, which is now referred to as Act 6. "It was clear that the status quo was no longer sufficient to maintain the integrity of the industry, to protect the wagering public, and to ensure proper oversight of racing in the commonwealth. Simply put, the system was broken. We were operating under a structural deficit that undermined our ability to regulate the industry properly and maximize the economic opportunities of this industry." In October 2015, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced it no longer had the financial resources necessary to maintain operations at the state's two racing commissions - the Horse Racing Commission and the Harness Racing Commission - or to operate the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology Research Laboratory at West Chester University where samples from Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses are tested for performance-enhancing substances. As a result, the state faced the difficult prospect of suspending racing in Pennsylvania. The structural deficit in the State Racing Fund was the result of a 71 percent decline in wagers on live horse racing in the state since 2001. Pari-mutuel taxes on those wagers fund the oversight of racing in the state. That persistent imbalance had been noted by the Wolf administration, the administrations of previous governors, as well as the state auditor general and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. In response to this challenge, the Wolf administration convened a working group of state officials, members of the General Assembly, and stakeholders from the equine industry and the state's six licensed racetrack operators to develop a solution. The results of those negotiations are reflected in Act 6. Among other things, the new law combines the two racing commissions into one unified commission that strengthens the governance of the industry, yet retains the ability to render decisions on breed-specific issues. The new nine-member commission will be composed of five members appointed by the governor (one veterinarian, one representative of a Thoroughbred horsemen's organization, one representative of a Thoroughbred breeder organization, one representative of a Standardbred horsemen's association and one representative of a Standardbred breeder organization) and four members appointed by each of the four legislative caucuses. The Secretary of Agriculture, or a designee, will be a non-voting, ex-officio member. The new law also makes the industry, rather than taxpayers, responsible for bearing the cost of drug-testing horses, and it institutes new license fees for racetrack operators and for businesses that offer electronic wagering. Act 6 repeals the 10 percent advanced deposit wagering tax on horse races that had been challenged in the courts, and the law calls for a comprehensive industry study to assess the financial, regulatory and market factors of the horse racing industry. The Joint State Government Commission, with assistance from the Independent Fiscal Office, is responsible for conducting the study. "Getting to this point was not easy," Agriculture Secretary Redding, "but thanks to the involvement of the stakeholders, we were able to arrive at a sound compromise that accomplishes our objectives: strengthening the integrity of horse and harness racing in the commonwealth, and putting in place a financial model that will allow for the long-term viability of the State Racing Fund. I want to thank all of the stakeholders, particularly the members of the General Assembly, including the four chairs of the Senate and House Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees, for their leadership and continued engagement on this issue." For more information about racing in Pennsylvania, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov and search "racing." To view House Bill 941 in its entirety, visit http://bit.ly/1Uig8d3. Brandi Hunter-Davenport William R. Nichols | Press Aide Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture | Press Office 2301 North Cameron Street | Hbg PA 17110 Phone: 717.787.5085 | Fax: 717.705.8402 www.agriculture.pa.gov
Two of the leading harness racing trainers in North America were charged with allowing horses to compete with the Class 2 drug Glaucine in their system. In a development that will send shockwaves through an already reeling industry in North America, Ron Burke and Julie Miller have both had horses under their care return positives for Glaucine from races they competed in at a New York racetrack. Ron Burke has been the dominant trainer on the North American scene for several years now on a money won basis, and these charges have the potential to derail the biggest training operation in harness racing. Harnessracing.com has received correspondence from attorney Howard Taylor, also a Standardbred owner, regarding a report published Thursday on Harnesslink.com regarding alleged positive tests incurred by trainers Ron Burke and Julie Miller in New York. While Taylor did not identify any trainer by name, he said he has been retained by several trainers whose horses recently had positive tests in New York. Authorities in New York have been trying for some time to establish a test for Glaucine and it was only recently that the laboratories successfully established such a test. The Bulgarian pharmaceutical company Sopharma sells glaucine in a tablet form, where a single dose contains 40 mg and the half-life is indicated to be 6–8 hours. When ingested orally Glaucine has been shown to increase airway conductance in humans, and has been investigated as a treatment for asthma. Another one of Glaucine’s chief functions is to regulate the formation of fat tissue in the body. The positives returned today have the potential to be very embarrassing to The New Meadowlands Racetrack where Burke and Miller regularly compete. While Jeff Gural has single-handedly taken on what he refers to as the drug cheats in the industry, Mr Gural has horses in training with Julie Miller. His response to the alleged drug infractions will be watched with interest by industry observers. Here is a link to Wikipedia details on Glaucine Update - Gural issues statement on Claucine Positives Harnesslink Media
Racing Victoria has been having meetings with thoroughbred trainers throughout the state to canvass their views on a proposal to implement lifetime bans for trainers found guilty of adminstering prohibited drugs to horses they train. The proposal first surfaced in a report produced by the Irish Thoroughbred Anti Doping Task Force “Illegal performance-enhancing drugs have no place in the Irish racing and breeding industries,” the task force said in a statement. “In particular, the task force supports the position of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities that the use of anabolic steroids should not be permitted in or out of competition.’’ RV chief steward Terry Bailey said on Friday he had read the report and he would table it for discussion at the next dug strategy meeting. He said he was waiting for an opinion from Racing Victoria vets before taking the matter further. "That should give us a better idea wether this is something that should be considered here,” Bailey said. “It would certainly put the responsibility on the owners to choose their trainers carefully.” Terry Bailey is very supportive of a proposal by Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent for the cobalt and bicarbonate levels of every horse in training to be published on an industry website. Harness racing authorities in New South Wales have been publishing lists of cobalt and bicarbonate levels recorded by horses for the past two years and Kent says it would name and shame trainers who are cheating. Bailey is being accompanied at the consultation meetings by RV chief executive Bernard Saundry, chief vet Brian Stewart and racing manager Greg Carpenter. Harnesslink Media
The harness racing community in New South Wales was still coming to terms tonight with the news that the successful and well respected trainer Michael Day had been convicted of fraud with respects to a "phantom" horse that only existed in the accounts book. Mr Day arranged for a mare to be served, for all the agistment and associated costs with breeding that foal to be paid and for the costs after the foal was born, broken in, and trained over several seasons to also to be paid. The only problem was the horse who he named Miriyan was never born and Mr Day fraudulently obtained over $25,000 over several years from the "owner" of the phantom horse. The first payment was on October 1, 2012, and payments continued until January 13, 2015. The payments totaled $25,677. Even though the owner was shown two different horses at different times over the years who were meant to be Miriyan, the owner continued to pay accounts that Mr Day sent her. Eventually she became suspicious after being unable to locate the horse and contacted NSW Harness Racing. An investigation commenced and HRNSW discovered that Miriyan had never existed. The horse the client had sighted for years was actually another horse. NSW Harness Racing conducted their own investigation into the matter and disqualified Day from the harness racing industry for 10 years. On October 20, 2015, Day was arrested and taken to Goulburn Police Station where he made a full and complete statement admitting the fraud. In court on Wednesday, Day's solicitor Tim McGrath said his client had been a man of overall good character until this matter. Mr McGrath submitted that the offending was out of character and that Mr Day was a man of good skill and reputation in the harness racing industry and as a result of his offending he was now being treated for depression and that a suspended sentence may be appropriate. However the Magistrate Carolyn Hunstman was not convinced, finding Mr Day guilty and ordered him to undertake an assessment for an Intensive Corrections Order, with a final sentencing in Goulburn Local Court on March 16. Magistrate Huntsman said she had no alternative to a custodial sentence. "It is a serious fraud over a long period of time," Ms Huntsman said. "It is not appropriate to give you a suspended sentence." Mr Day, who has been a harness racing trainer for 38 years, had his biggest moment in the industry in 1982 when he won the Miracle Mile with Gundary Flyer. However after this court case Mr Day will be forever associated with the "phantom" horse that never existed. Harnesslink Media
The prevailing view is that cheating in sport is more commonplace and more egregious now than ever before. Cheating in sport comes in two basic forms — doping and match or spot fixing. The former relies on the scenario where the alchemists will always be one step ahead of the chemists, where those who use illicit performance enhancing drugs will beat the overseers and continue to compete under an unfair advantage. In this year’s Olympics in Rio, the Russian track and field team will almost certainly have to sit it out in the bleachers after the Russian governing body accepted an indefinite ban from competition after the alleged cover-up of positive doping tests. The Kenyans, the doyens of long distance running, are under a cloud of suspicion. Yet for all the headlines, one could mount a sound argument that doping in sport had reached its acme almost thirty years ago and the introduction of the WADA Code in 2004 combined with more effective policing and pro secution of athletes taking banned substances is leading to what we all hope for when we watch sport — a level playing field. That is not to say professional sport in terms of doping is clean but it is cleaner than it was. Last month UK Athletics called for world track and field records to be reset because of the great suspicion that surrounds those that sit on the books now. Take women’s track and field events. From the 1500m down all records were set in the 1980s and 90s with the exception of one event, the 400m hurdles. There are a number of world records in women’s track and field events that are clearly not legitimate. The record for the women’s discus throw was set in 1988 by East German athlete, Gabriele Reinsch with a throw of 76.80 metres. Not one female thrower has broken 70 metres this century. American sprinter, Florence Griffith-Joyner, still holds the 100m and 200m sprint records, both obtained in 1988 — the latter set at the Seoul Olympics, the so-called ‘Dirty Games’. Griffith-Joyner maintained she never took drugs but the dramatic changes to her physique told a different tale. She retired from competition after the Seoul Games. Random drug testing of IAAF athletes commenced the following year. She died in 1998 aged 38. East German athlete, Marita Koch broke the 400m world record at the World Championships in Canberra in 1985 with a time of 47.60 seconds. Her recorded 100 and 200 metre splits of 11.3 and 22.4 seconds would have qualified her for the women’s 100m and 200m sprints at the 2012 Olympics in London. One of the great ironies of communist East Germany’s State Plan 14.25 — a program designed to shovel performance enhancing drugs into their athletes, is you couldn’t run Koch’s time driving around in a Trabant then or now. These records need to stand both as a testament to cheating and as a marker for questionable achievement in future. Doping may be on the decline while the pernicious effects of match and spot fixing are clearly still with us. Match fixing is pervasive and difficult to police by nature. Last night the ABC’s Four Corners program ran an exposé on match and spot fixing on the professional tennis circuit. The show made some claims about tennis players on the fringes of the ITP circuit without naming many but went on to uncover what stands as the biggest threat to the integrity of professional sport — unregulated betting agencies taking millions of dollars in bets on sporting events around the world. The Australian has been reporting on some questionable matches, including one played at the Australian Open less than a fortnight ago. Not only do these illicit betting agencies refuse to co-operate with authorities, they engage in money laundering with organised criminal syndicates. For many years gambling has been used as a means of laundering money, taking the black money from various criminal activities and washing it clean through a bookmaker. It was a rule of thumb that if $60 came back clean from a $100 of dirty money wagered, that was a decent outcome for those involved. Forty years ago, greyhound racing was literally awash with black money. Harness racing faced a similar problem in the 1980s. Legal casinos now face the problem everyday and are inclined to take the gambler’s money without caring much about where the dough has come from. Indeed it was said of harness racing that when Australia’s king of race fixing, George Freeman was about, there wasn’t a trotting meet anywhere in the country where one or more race on the card was bent. The important lesson here is that level of contrivance and cheating effectively destroyed what integrity harness racing may have had. Legitimate punters simply walked away from the sport. Harness racing has never recovered. The online unregulated bookmakers offer a similar service to that which Freeman enjoyed in the 1970s and 80s; the opportunity not just of washing money and obtaining a smaller return but where crime groups are able to predetermine the outcome of a sporting event, they not only come away with clean money but more of it. In practical terms there is little Australian authorities can do about online unregulated bookmakers who run off shore, often out of hotel rooms with a handful of laptops and a bank of plasma screen TVs. The best option is to co-operate and share information with other jurisdictions and hope for the broad sweep of US federal investigators to move in. Even then it’s like playing a game of whack-a-mole. But the rules are the same as they were in Freeman’s day. If a sport loses its integrity through match fixing or widespread doping, spectators and television audiences simply move on. We have the template for this via one of the world’s most lucrative sports, Major-league Baseball. The problems can be traced back to the players’ strike of 1994-95. It was only when the dispute was resolved that the governing body, MLB, believed the industrial landscape was too fraught to consider implementing an anti-doping policy. An anti-doping policy had not been in place in the MLB since 1985. And so it became open slather on doping. Big hitters became bigger hitters. For a brief moment, the US was gripped with a fascinating dual over a number of seasons between Mark McGwire at the St Louis Cardinals and Barry Bonds at the San Francisco Giants tonking the ball out of the park on a regular basis. McGwire broke the season home run record in 1998 with 70 home runs. Three years later Bonds smashed it with 73. Both men were juiced up on steroids. In 2004, the MLB agreed to a moratorium on drug testing. In that season players in the major and minor leagues were tested but no punishments were applied. Results from that period reveal seven per cent of players were using steroids and an astonishing 78 per cent were using some type of banned substance. To this day the National Baseball Hall of Fame has chosen to avoid handing hall of fame status to players from that period. Most importantly, attendances at games went into a deep trough and television audiences shrank. People knew they were being conned and wouldn’t have a bar of it. This is the soundest argument you can make for the WADA code and the tough policing of doping in professional sport and why the match fixers need to be sent packing. The salutary lesson for all sports administrators is if you build it they will come but if you degrade and debase it, they will turn away. By Jack The Insider Reprinted with permission of The Australian
DOVER, Del. - The Delaware legislature paid tribute to 2015 standardbred horse of the year Wiggleitjiggleit Tuesday afternoon with ceremonies in the House of Representatives and Senate. Wiggleitjiggleit's owner, George Teague Jr., of Harrington, trainer Clyde Francis of Houston, were joined by the horse's driver, Montrell Teague (Harrington) and groom Mike Taylor (Harrington). The festivities started on a capacity-filled Senate floor where legislators and visitors watched a replay of the 2015 Little Brown Jug from Delaware, Ohio, which is widely recognized as one of the most memorable races of all-time, that resulted in a victory for local star Wiggleitjiggleit. Many of the legislators were awe-stricken by the remarkable race and vocalized their congratulations and pride in having a Delaware horse gain national acclaim and subsequent attention and exposure across North America. A tribute was read and presented by Senators Gary Simpson and Patricia Blevins, noting the many accomplishments of Wiggleitjiggleit, that included 22 victories and more than $2 million earned in a historic season. The Teague crew then immediately went to the House chamber and were introduced by Representative Bobby Outten and Dan Short, who honored the connections of Wiggleitjiggleit. Owner George Teague expressed his gratitude at the podium on the House floor. "This is truly an honor," said Teague, who also trained 2004 horse of the year Rainbow Blue. "We got extremely lucky to have a horse like this and it's been a fun ride. We appreciate the recognition." Teague and crew then visited the Honorable Governor Jack Markell's office and were met with congratulations by the Governor. Wiggleitjiggleit is expected to return to racing in the spring of 2016 and will receive his horse of the year honors at the United States Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch awards banquet on March 6 in Orlando, Fl. Delaware will be well represented as there will be four awards given to residents of The First State. In addition to the horse of the year feat, owner George Teague was voted 2015 owner of the year, driver Montrell Teague was named Rising Star, and Jo Ann Looney-King, of Harrington will receive the William Haughton Memorial Good Guy Award. Matthew Sparacino
Harness Racing South Australia Stewards finalised an inquiry into a report received from Racing Analytical Services Ltd (RASL) that a post race urine sample taken from SILVER RANGER after Race 4, the Hygain Horse Products Claiming Pace at Globe Derby on 23 November 2015, upon analysis contained arsenic greater than the 0.30 micrograms per millilitre threshold. The ‘B’ sample was sent to the Racing Science Centre in Queensland which confirmed the presence of arsenic above the threshold. Evidence was taken from trainer Andrew Kearney regarding his feeding regime and husbandry practices. Mr. Kearney pleaded guilty to a charge under Rule 190(1), (2) & (4) that as the licenced trainer of SILVER RANGER he did present that horse to race at Globe Derby on 23 November 2015 when not free of a prohibited substance. In determining penalty stewards took into account the nature of the substance, his guilty plea, his 11 year history as a trainer and his record which contained two previous offences for prohibited substances. Mr. Kearney had his trainer licence suspended for 9 months backdated to 6 January 2016, the date he was stood down. Under Rule 195, SILVER RANGER was disqualified from its first placing and all placings amended accordingly. by Barbara Scott, Chair of Stewards