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Columbus, OH - The U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) strongly opposes the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019 (S. 1820), which was introduced Wednesday (June 12) by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The legislation is bad for harness racing, horse racing, and the health and welfare of horses. "At a time in which the industry is focused on preventing deaths, this legislation will have the opposite effect, and more horses will die," said USTA President Russell Williams. The legislation seeks to ban the use of a race-day, therapeutic medication called Lasix. Lasix is endorsed by veterinarians as the only known treatment for Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), a disease that causes bleeding in the lungs of a racehorse. Both the American Association of Equine Practitioners and North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians support the use of Lasix and oppose the legislation. The bill also increases the cost of regulation and threatens the livelihoods of USTA members. "This newly-created regulatory body will have to impose additional fees and costs on the industry because it will receive no federal funding. Harness racing horsemen will be hit particularly hard because most of them are working-class people," added Williams. "It will drive many of them out of the business." According to a recent American Horse Council study, the racing industry contributes $36 billion annually to the national economy and provides 240,000 direct jobs. Any measure that will add further regulatory and cost burdens will only harm those state and local economies that depend on the industry. Finally, the proposed legislation would federalize horse racing and place it under the control of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), adding an unnecessary layer of oversight to the current state-based system. It would create an unelected, national board that specifically prohibits current owners, trainers, drivers, and practicing veterinarians from serving on it. Williams questioned, "Why an unelected board at the FTC would be better at regulating horse racing than those that know our industry best is beyond me." While the recent deaths in California are alarming, and more research needs to be done on what caused the tragedies, the proposed legislation would not have prevented a single death. Instead of working to reduce deaths in the industry, this legislation covers up the problem by pointing the finger at so-called "rampant doping" in the industry. Test results prove that doping is not a problem. In 2018, the Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Program conducted by U.S. racing regulatory bodies and compiled by the Association of Racing Commissioners International found that 99.4 percent of all racehorses were compliant with the rules. The "clear" rate for Standardbred horses was even higher at 99.71 percent. The USTA strongly opposes the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019 (S. 1820) and encourages all industry participants and racing fans to contact their U.S. Senator to express their opposition to Senator Gillibrand's proposed legislation.   Ken Weingartner

Bagdad harness racing trainer Paul Williams has been fined $3000 over a positive swab returned by his horse Chasing Cheetahs at Devonport three months ago. A urine sample taken from Chasing Cheetahs, who finished fourth in the C2/C3 Pace on March 8, contained arsenic levels above the allowable threshold. Williams pleaded guilty to presenting the horse to race when not free of all prohibited substances. Stewards suspended half the fine on condition the trainer does not offend again in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, an unnamed harness racing participant has been fined $1500 over an incident at the Mowbray race meeting on May 3. The participant pleaded guilty to "acting in a manner detrimental to the industry" by deliberately causing damage to another participant's vehicle. Half the fine was suspended on condition there is no further offending in the next 12 months. Stewards refused to name the person involved as they said the incident was related to a on-going court case. Harness racing returns to Devonport on Friday night with two heats of the Raider Stakes and a prelude to the Granny Smith Stakes. Greg Mansfield Reprinted with permission of The Advocate

In response to questions received from the industry, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) wishes to clarify that routine diagnostic veterinary examinations of race horses are allowed within the 24-hour period prior to racing provided no medications, drugs or substances are administered. Info Bulletin No. 70 – Ban on Race Day Medication: Introduction of a Standards-Based Rule March 29, 2019 The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is implementing a ban on race day medications as of April 19, 2019 that will prohibit the administration of medications, drugs and substances to any horse entered to race starting 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  For Standardbred horses, this includes Qualifying Races. This standards-based rule is critical to protecting horses, participants, the betting public and the integrity of racing as a whole. The rule changes, which include prohibiting contact between horses entered to race and veterinarians in the 24 hours prior to racing, except in cases of emergency, can be found in the Directives: Standardbred | Thoroughbred POLICY STATEMENT It is in the best interest of the horse, the human participants, the betting public and the public at large that horses race free of medications (other than Furosemide when properly enrolled in the Ontario Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (E.I.P.H.) Program). THE ISSUE Medications administered within 24 hours of a race have resulted in adverse health outcomes of race horses.  Medications administered on race day have the potential to mask physical or behavioural problems in a horse and/or to alter the performance of a horse. These administrations can pose a risk to the health of the horse and participants while warming up or racing. The betting public and the public at large are unaware of the specifics of these administrations.  This standards-based rule aligns Ontario more closely with other major racing jurisdictions in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.  For example, in the United States, 28 out of the 33 states with pari-mutuel betting have implemented a ban on race day medications.   IMPLICATIONS The new standards-based rule will enhance the health and safety of the horse, the safety of the participants during the warming up of the horse and in the actual running of the race. The standards-based rule defines the timeframe of the ban as being 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  This rule is not intended to prohibit normal non-medicated feedstuffs, water and non-medicated shampoos and non-medicated topical applications.  IMPLEMENTATION The AGCO will implement the standards-based rule through the following communications with the horse racing industry:    An educational component, consisting of Industry Notice Reminders and Information Bulletins; Paddock meetings; and/or Training sessions for trainers and grooms at each track, led by AGCO Race Officials and Commission Veterinarians. Race Line newsletter articles Twitter posts Website updates For more information, on-duty Race Officials may be contacted at: https://www.agco.ca/race-day-contact-list Questions about this process may be directed to AGCO Race Officials. CONTACT US Online: Anytime via the iAGCO online portal By mail and in person: Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario 90 Sheppard Avenue East Suite 200-300 Toronto, Ontario M2N 0A4 By telephone: Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) General telephone: 416-326-8700 Toll free in Ontario: 1-800-522-2876  

MILTON, May 31, 2019 - Woodbine Entertainment and the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) have announced their support for the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario's (AGCO) revision and enhanced enforcement of the urging rule for Standardbred Racing. The revised urging rules will take effect beginning Monday, June 3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and will be gradually phased in to all Standardbred tracks across the province. The revisions to the urging rule align with the commitment of Woodbine Entertainment and COSA to protect the health and safety of the equine athletes and integrity of racing. "Woodbine Entertainment fully supports the AGCO's revisions to the urging rule after requests were made to review in the best interests of our horses and sport," said Jessica Buckley, President of Woodbine Mohawk Park. "We are committed to upholding the highest standards and practices for the integrity of racing to best position our industry for a stable future." "We recognize the need for our industry to evolve and are pleased by the efficient progress made by the AGCO to revise the urging rule," said Bill O'Donnell, President of COSA. "Placing the welfare of our animals first will always be the top priority and our drivers understand that moving to wrist action only urging is best for the integrity of our sport." Woodbine Mohawk Park offers a world class Standardbred racing product with the best horses and drivers competing regularly. The enforcement of the revised rules at Woodbine Mohawk Park and during the upcoming $1 million Pepsi North America Cup will provide an example to racetracks and jurisdictions across the continent for the need to be proactive and progress with best practices for the safety of equine athletes. Mark McKelvie        

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    

Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU) detectives have charged a man today in relation to alleged harness race fixing in Shepparton. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) contacted police following suspicious activity in a race during a meeting on 17 July, 2018. The HRV Integrity Unit initially identified the need for further investigation into this race on the night, secured evidence and referred the matter to Victoria Police. SIIU investigators subsequently commenced a criminal investigation into the matter. A 49-year-old Kilmore man has been charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome, and use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes. He is due to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 24 June, 2019. Victoria Police maintains close relations with HRV and other key industry partners in order to monitor activity, detect irregularities, and collect intelligence. The SIIU was established in 2013 and has focused on the collection, analysis and appropriate sharing of intelligence relating to sporting integrity issues in Victoria. The unit continues to work with racing and sporting bodies to enhance knowledge and awareness of identified sports integrity issues. Any person wishing to report sports corruption within the racing industry or other sports urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au Natalie Webster Media Officer

Harness racing driver Simon Lawson has unfairly copped a two and a half year ban from the JCA for betting on another horse in a race he was driving in. Originally in a reserved decision, Lawson was fined $8000 and given a suspension of 18 months for placing a $50EW Fixed Odds bet on Mr Natural in Race 10 at Alexandra Park on 25th May 2018, the “Book An ATC Bus to The Jewels” Mobile Trot while he drove My Royal Roxy into 5th place in the same race. Details of the Reserved Decision can be read here. That one and a half year ban has now been upgraded to two and a half years. For a young driver whose life revolved around horses and harness racing, the ban will certainly impact his life in a major way. Lawson himself could not believe the length of the term he was disqualified for. "I am in shock" he told Harnesslink today. "It has cost me my job and it is going to take me years to pay the fine. "I am not saying I did not do anything wrong, because I did make a mistake. "But I think the penalty is harsh and far outweighs the breach of rules," he said. Earlier in the year Lawson was cleared of race fixing in the race he profited from after police interviewed some of the drivers in the race and found there was no race fixing involved. Betting patterns that were analysed on the race in question also confirmed no illegal activity. The two and a half year ban is extremely excessive. It is our belief the RIU appealed the original decision to have the term extended just to make Simon Lawson a scapegoat. Lawson has now been unfairly burdened with a penalty so far out of context with the rule breach it seems like a joke. Granted the industry needs to protect its integrity but this over the top suspension in our eyes instead makes the industry a laughing stock and instead further damages the industry. Many owners trainers and drivers we talked too are growing more and more disheartened at the decisions coming from this integrity unit. Something has got to be done and we think the heads at the RIU need to go as they are continuing to hurt all aspects of harness racing. Harnesslink Media

Maine is taking steps to push forward with sports betting legalization as legislators will have to review as many as three sports betting bills. Gaming experts say that the state could legalize sports betting as early as next year. As sport betting legalization takes off throughout the US, lawmakers in Maine think the state should get a slice of the action. Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, who acts as a sponsor of one of the proposals, said the reason why they want to legalize sports betting is pretty obvious – the practice is now in full swing in many states and they are reaping a number of benefits. The bill LD1348 sponsored by Evangelos is modelled on New Jersey and would permit individuals over 21 to place bets on both professional and amateur sports at casinos, off-track betting parlors and racetracks. They will also be allowed to wager online. A $30,000 license fee will be imposed, and sports gambling revenue will be taxed 25 percent. Under the proposal, almost all of the revenue will go towards primary education. The second bill presented in full will set a minimum age limit of 18 years. However, 18-year-olds will only be allowed to do it in off-track betting parlors and brick-in-mortar harness racetracks. Sponsored by Rep. Dustin White, the LD1515 proposal will impose a modest $5,000 licensing fee. The largest portion of the income derived from an 18 percent tax would go to the state’s harness racing industry while a portion would be given to primary education and college scholarships. Maine Legislature to Debate Sports Betting   LAWMAKERS DISAGREE ON SOME ASPECTS However, it remains unclear how the state is going to organize its sports betting industry. Lawmakers can’t seem to agree on a single path in terms of the gaming taxes the state should impose, as well as how the revenue generated should be used. There is currently no reliable estimation on the extent of the underground gambling market in Maine and hence there is a question market as to whether a legalized sports betting market will have a significant impact. Some experts have suggested that lawmakers in Maine take a cautious approach and lower their estimates of what they expect a legalized sports betting market to generate. Maine will also have to put in place measures to address a potential increase in problem gambling. Sen. Louis Luchini, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, said the negative effects of gambling expansion cannot be ignored. Luchini, who is also drafting his own sports betting proposal, said gambling bills are always shrouded with controversy. All parties should take the time to study the proposals in order to come up with responsible gambling measures. To date, only two bills seeking to regulate sports betting have been presented in full in Maine, but there are three other proposals still in the works. By Landon Wheeler Reprinted with permission of Legal Gambling and The Law

Exercise-induced Pulmonary Hemorrage (EIPH) has been a recognized condition in horses since the early 18 century. While the amount of bleeding in horses varies, it is universally recognized that the vast majority of horses in training and racing do indeed bleed. The advent of the flexible endoscope confirmed in studies that in thoroughbreds the stress put upon them, proved that up to 75 per cent of them bleed in training and more so in racing. Other studies done on standardbred and thoroughbreds, after running three races, showed that 100 per cent of these horses bled at least once, evidenced by blood in the trachea. The cause of the bleeding is the amount of pressure experienced that racing puts on the pulmonary veins, four times the normal pressure. The pressure causes fibrosis and in turn Pulmonary fibrosis scars and thickens the tissue around and between the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, which decreases the lungs ability to function and decreases the racing life of the horse. I have attended multiple-day seminars with experts from all over the globe on the topic of the race day administration of Lasix. In North America, Lasix is the most popular medication for treating EIPH because studies have shown that it is the most effective treatment in decreasing the amount of bleeding and therefore the scarring and thickening of the tissue around the lungs. In many of the English speaking countries around the world conducting racing, where race day use of Lasix is prohibited, it is nonetheless permitted up to race day because it is acknowledged to have the desired therapeutic effects in controlling EIPH. One has to ask if it is recognized as necessary in training because of its control of this problem, when the stress is not as severe as when a horse competes in a race, then what is the rationale for withholding it on race day, where four times the normal pressure in the racing environment exists? It has been said that when our horses, mainly thoroughbreds, go overseas they compete quite well without Lasix. That is indeed true, perhaps because they have a least had the benefit of controlling pulmonary hemorrhage long enough to achieve success over their foreign competitors. Overseas competition is against horses that are using something far less efficacious than Lasix, or worse nothing at all, to address the long term effects occasioned by the increased stress in racing. Those who want to join the community of Lasix-free racing point to the alleged masking of other substances, but the controlled administration of the substance; the hourly limitation on its use pre-race( 4-4 1/2 hours); the testing for threshold overages of the substance, has put that argument to bed. Now the newest mantra for the elimination of race-day Lasix, is the horrible, horrible loss of life at Santa Anita Racetrack. The false claim being, that while the rest of North America continues to help the horse racing on Lasix, without nay correlation to catastrophes, Lasix is being inexplicably blamed as the proximate cause of those catastrophes. The problem, is the potential for the elimination of a recognized effective tool in controlling and minimizing, EIPH that helps the horse cope with the effects of stress. Santa Anita should be shut down immediately until the true causes of these catastrophes can be accurately determined and corrected. The factors point initially to the track’s surface and under-footing, but the more precise answer must be determined by analyzing all of the multiple possible factors, Lasix, being clearly not the culprit. Without closing down Santa Anita immediately, the industry, thoroughbred and standardbred alike, comes under tremendous pressure from all those looking to eliminate the industry anyway. Santa Anita is providing fuel to a fire that threatens the game, by racing more in the face of its undetermined cause of these catastrophic breakdowns. Allowing continued suffering at Santa Anita is intolerable and unacceptable and should not continue. Enough is enough and if one is looking to blame Lasix, it is suggested that one look elsewhere. Every industry organization needs to be heard on any and every false narrative out there. No benefit can be achieved by being silent on issues that threaten our existence. Joe Faraldo

Warrior Inside started life as a winner. A Kentucky thoroughbred, the chestnut brown bay gelding racehorse trained at Churchill Downs in Louisville. In his debut last March in New Orleans, he placed second in a field of 63. But his fourth race at Churchill Downs was his last, coming in eighth. He'd developed career-ending bone chips in both front knees. Life after racing for most horses usually ends in one of two ways. Animals with good genes are used for stud service in hopes of producing superior stock. Others are sent to slaughter at rendering plants in Canada and Mexico. Furniture store chain IKEA made headlines in 2013 when traces of horse meat were found in the store's famous Swedish meatballs, which were sent out to several countries across Europe.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that 80,000 horses annually get processed for meat. More: Oxford firefighters, Oakland Co. deputies rescue horse trapped under ice More: Woman gets jail for neglect of horses in western Michigan (L to R) Mr. Palmer and Warrior Inside play with each other at their stalls inside Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth, Michigan on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. This farm caters towards retired race horses enrolled in the Canter USA program that rehabs, retrains and finds new homes for thoroughbreds who leave racing at young ages when they become injured or are not fast enough to win. . (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   Warrior Inside got lucky. He ended up at Canter Michigan, one of the few sanctuaries in the country that gives losing horses another shot. "When horses broke down, they would just get rid of them," said Canter Michigan's horse trainer Jennifer Blades on owners of racetracks. "Now, they're not allowed to do that, so that's made more horses come in through the Canter program." Warrior Inside, known as Indy by his handlers, is one of nine horses at Canter Michigan. The organization in Commerce Township, founded in 1998, today has 19 affiliates nationwide rehabbing former racehorses for new careers as show horses or for law enforcement. Blades, said most of the horses she sees “just weren’t fast enough” or suffered an injury — common for young horses. Jennifer Blades, the owner and operator of Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth poses for a portrait with Warrior Inside, a former race horse on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. The farm caters towards retired race horses enrolled in the Canter USA program which rehabs, retrains and finds new homes for thoroughbreds who leave racing at young ages when they become injured or are not fast enough to win. . (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   Road to recovery Indy's trainer, Tim Glyshaw, donated the horse to Canter Michigan which sent him to Michigan State University's large animal clinic for surgery in May. Afterward, he spent six months in rehab at a Lansing-area farm.  But surgery and rehab is expensive. Horse operations usually cost between $3,000-$4,000 and rehab an additional $2,000-$3,000, Blades said. Canter Michigan relies on fundraisers and support from other nonprofit agencies. In December, the ASPCA granted $225,000 to nine equine rescue groups, including the Michigan and national chapters of Canter. After rehab, Blades said, training begins. “We start with groundwork,” said Blades. “We put them in a crosstie and they learn to be groomed, handled and to be quiet. A lot of the racehorses are very jumpy and they will kick at you and will bounce around a little bit to break the ties.” Warrior Inside, a former race horse, burns off energy inside Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.  (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   Not all horses receive the same training, since every equine is different. Some horses may only be able to spend 20 to 30 minutes outside, while others can last for an hour, Blades said.   “When I go to work with a horse, I have a basic plan, but I have to adapt it according to how they’re doing that day or each horse individually,” she said. “And they have their good and bad days just like we do. Some have more of a work ethic and really want to be good, and others don’t really want to be bothered."   Horse racing in Michigan  According to the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, a group dedicated to improving horse racing in the state, the rise of the sport in Michigan began in 1933 when Gov. William Comstock signed a law legalizing horse racing with wagering. Northville Downs became the state’s first racetrack, opening in 1944. Others soon followed, including Jackson Harness Raceway, Hazel Park Race Track and Detroit Race Course. Harness racers move down the home stretch at Northville Downs race track on Saturday, May 14, 2016 in Northville. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier)   Horse racing hit its peak in the late 1980s, with eight tracks operating across the state, in cities such as Flint, Saginaw, Mount Pleasant and Muskegon. But the industry began to decline with increasing competition from other types of wagering, starting with the creation of the Michigan Lottery in 1972. Casinos built on Indian reservations became big in the 1980s, and Detroit saw the opening of three casinos in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Simulcasting, where guests could watch and bet on multiple live races in one location, helped keep racetracks open a little longer, but could not solely save them. Muskegon Race Course closed in 1997, with many of the other racetracks following suit into the late 2000s.  Last year, Hazel Park Race Track abruptly closed after nearly 70 years of business.The track was one of two racetracks still operating in the state, and the only track offering thoroughbred racing. Shortly after the closing of Hazel Park, home builder Hunter Pasteur Homes announced that Northville Downs will be sold and converted into a mixed-use development. The track plans to stay open through the 2020 racing season, and hopes to operate at a new location after the property is sold. Canter Executive Director Robbie Timmons said the group received two horses from Hazel Park right after the track closed, with another brought in last September. One equine has already found a new home.    However, Blades does not expect any horses from Northville Downs, since it only has standardbred horses, which are used in harness racing. Canter only trains thoroughbreds, with the majority coming from places like Ohio and Kentucky. A new life Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth, caters to retired race horses enrolled in the Canter USA program that rehabs, retrains and finds new homes for thoroughbreds who leave racing at young ages when they become injured or are not fast enough to win.  (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   How long it takes to get a racehorse ready for adoption can vary. Blades said horses are available for sale within a couple of months. But equines that have been injured might not be suitable for adoption until they've spent five to eight months in the program. When Indy is ready, he's expected to fetch $1,800, Blades said. Horses at Canter usually sell for prices ranging from $800 to $2,000 to buyers from as far away as North Carolina and Texas. Blades has yet to learn what Indy’s new career path will be, but she believes he "can do almost anything." “He’s quiet, easygoing, so I think he could be a pleasure horse. He’s built to be a jumping horse the way he moves, but we have not jumped him yet because we didn’t want to push it too soon. I think he’s gonna make some Canter adult an awesome horse for whatever they choose. "I just want to see the horse go on and be happy and have a good career and a good home.” By Micah Walker Reprinted with permission of the Detroit Free Press

Columbus, OH - Following the U.S. Trotting Association's 2019 Board of Directors Annual Meeting held March 8-11 in Columbus, OH, the USTA's Call to Action Subcommittee issued the following announcement regarding the issue of harness racing hidden trainers on Thursday (March 14). At the Call to Action Subcommittee meeting on Friday night (March 8) the committee updated their plan regarding the initiative to prohibit hidden trainers from continuing to ply their unethical trade by using program trainers (commonly referred to as "beard" trainers) when that hidden trainer is banned from being licensed or has been suspended. "The essence of the beard trainer problem is that trainers currently under suspension or whose license has been denied are conducting business as usual, they are making a mockery out of the industry," said Call to Action Committee Chairman Mark Loewe. "Currently, we have to rely on the state regulators and licensing is their only tool to combat this problem." "It is important to note that beard trainers are cooperating in a scheme to defraud the regulators and the public, so they are also culpable," added Loewe. USTA Director and Subcommittee member Joe Faraldo previously presented the concept of "regulatory discovery" to end this unethical practice. Essentially, regulatory discovery requires suspected beard trainers to provide a series of documents to regulators, who could examine the flow of money and other communication to ascertain they are just acting as a shill for the hidden, unlicensed trainer. If so, the beard trainer would also be suspended or have his or her license application rejected. "It is important to note that this process is not expensive for the regulators because it requires no additional detectives or other investigatory expense" explained USTA President Russell Williams. "And it should also be noted that it is very likely that it won't be necessary to get every commission to adopt regulatory discovery or to catch every beard trainer. A few prosecutions will go a long way," added Williams. The USTA first presented the regulatory discovery concept at Association of Racing Commissioners International meetings in Omaha, NE last July, and will pursue it to a conclusion. As a result, the proposal was assigned to an ARCI subcommittee for further consideration. The committee determined that they will submit it again for discussion at the ARCI meeting scheduled for August 8-10 in Saratoga Springs, NY. The USTA is also prepared to take the concept directly to regulators, track operators and horsemen's organizations. In fact, Faraldo indicated that the policy has already been implemented at Yonkers Raceway, where he is the president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. At this year's Call to Action Subcommittee meeting, the committee drafted three proposals regarding guidelines for regulatory discovery to be distributed to racing commissions, racetracks, and horsemen's associations, respectively. In addition, the USTA is also looking at its own licensing and membership structure to determine whether it can act as an association to implement regulatory discovery. Ken Weingartner

Columbus, OH - Through the end of February this year, the amount wagered through the USTA Strategic Wagering Program has increased by more than $2 million ($2,005,679) compared to the first two months of 2018. That 43.7 percent increase in harness racing handle was achieved through 219 guaranteed-pool wagers offered at nine different racetracks during the first two months of 2019. In addition, during January and February of this year, the total amount of guaranteed pools in the Strategic Wagering Program increased by $1,107,223 (39.6 percent) compared to the first two months of 2018 when there were 130 guaranteed-pool wagers offered. "Strategic Wagering is solid and has proven to generate interest and handle. The challenge is to figure out how to further leverage the program to increase pool liquidity," said Chris Schick, chairman of the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee. "These upward trends should continue as there are 124 Strategic Wagering Program offerings this March compared to 60 during the same month last year." In addition, two new tracks have been recently added to the program - Saratoga Casino Hotel in February and Rosecroft Raceway this month. Saratoga Casino Hotel joined the program with $5,000 Pick-5 and $25,000 trifecta guaranteed pools on Wednesdays and Thursdays, while Rosecroft Raceway will host their inaugural Strategic Wager on Wednesday (March 6) with a $2,500 guaranteed Pick-5 that will be offered on Wednesdays and Sundays. In 2018, 19 different racetracks participated in the program. Free TrackMaster past performances for the USTA Strategic Wagering Program can be viewed by visiting http://handicapping.ustrotting.com. Up-to-date carryover information as well as those past performances are available on Twitter at @USTAStratWag. The U.S. Trotting Association, in cooperation with its member tracks, established the USTA Strategic Wagering Program in April 2011 to provide value to horseplayers by guaranteeing the size of designated betting pools. The responsibility for these guarantees is shared equally by the USTA, the track hosting the wager, and in some cases, with the local horsemen's association as well. Ken Weingartner

On Thursday 28 February 2019, Stewards concluded an inquiry into the betting activity of owner Mr Luke Montgomery on LOT TWENTY ONE when it raced and finished second at Northam on 18 August, 2018.  The inquiry commenced on 26 October, 2018 with evidence being taken from Mr Montgomery, trainer  Mrs Debra Lewis and driver Mr Christopher Lewis.  Further evidence was taken on 25 January, 2019 from RWWA Betting Investigator Mr Trevor Styles which established Mr Montgomery had placed a lay bet with Betfair on a horse he has partial ownership in, LOT TWENTY ONE when it raced at Northam on 18 August, 2018. As part of the inquiry, stewards examined the race LOT TWENTY ONE competed in at Northam and were satisfied the horse was given every chance to win or obtain the best possible placing. Stewards were satisfied trainer Mrs Lewis and driver Mr  Lewis had no knowledge of Mr Montgomery’s lay bet. Mr Montgomery pleaded guilty to the following charge: AHRR 235A(4) The connections must not lay any horse that is or may be entered by them or on their behalf, save that a bookmaker may lay a horse in accordance with his licence. Penalty: $4,000 In determining penalty stewards took into account: Mr Montgomery’s guilty plea Mr Montgomery’s long involvement in the harness racing industry Mr Montgomery is a regular punter and the decision to lay LOT TWENTY ONE was solely based on the expected financial return Mr Montgomery did not influence or attempt to influence the outcome of the race through his relationship with the trainer or driver Previous penalties issued for similar offences The financial return received by Mr Montgomery from laying the horse on Betfair was $2001.03 and that any penalty should negate the financial benefit received Penalties must have a general and specific deterrent   Barbara Scott Chief Steward, Harness

HARNESS Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards conducted an inquiry on Monday February 4, 2019, in relation to a report from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that cocaine was detected in the urine sample taken from MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ following its win in Race 5, the NAVAL ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA PACE (2125m) at Penrith on Thursday October 18, 2018. The ‘B’ sample was confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Licensed trainer Mr Richard Baverstock and stablehand Mr Adam Baverstock appeared at the inquiry. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis were presented and HRNSW Regulatory Veterinarian Dr Martin Wainscott also presented evidence to the inquiry. HRNSW Stewards issued the following charge against Mr Richard Baverstock pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190 (1), (2), (3) & (4) as follows: AHRR 190.  (1)  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. (2)  If a horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1) the trainer of the horse is guilty of an offence. (3)  If a person is left in charge of a horse and the horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1), the trainer of the horse and the person left in charge is each guilty of an offence. (4)  An offence under sub rule (2) or sub rule (3) is committed regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse. Mr Richard Baverstock was found guilty and disqualified for a period of two years and six months commencing from December 21, 2018, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Richard Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; Class 1 Prohibited Substance; The seriousness of the offence; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Richard Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Richard Baverstock’s not guilty plea. Acting under the provisions of AHRR 195, MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Mr Richard Baverstock was advised of his right to appeal. HRNSW Stewards issued a charge against Mr Adam Baverstock pursuant to AHRR 190(1), (3) & (4) in relation to the results of the urine sample obtained from MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ. Mr Adam Baverstock was found guilty and disqualified for three years nine months to commence from January 22, 2019, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering that penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Adam Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; Class 1 Prohibited Substance; The seriousness of the offence; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Adam Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Adam Baverstock’s not guilty plea. In addition, HRNSW Stewards issued a charge against Mr Adam Baverstock pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 250A(1)(a) as follows: 250A.  (1)  A person carrying on or purporting to carry on an activity regulated by licence at any time or carrying on official duties at a meeting commits an offence if: (a)  a sample taken from him or her is found upon analysis to contain a substance banned by Rule 251A. That charge related to a urine sample taken from Mr Adam Baverstock on Monday December 17, 2018. A report from Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) certified the presence of the cocaine metabolites Ecgonine Methylester and Benzoylecgonine. The ‘B’ sample was confirmed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia. In relation to that charge, Mr Adam Baverstock was suspended for a period of six months to commence from January 22, 2019, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering that penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Adam Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; The seriousness of the offence; The prohibited substances involved; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Adam Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Adam Baverstock’s not guilty plea. The Stewards ordered that the penalties imposed upon Mr Adam Baverstock are to be served concurrently. Mr Adam Baverstock was advised of his right to appeal.     Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. HRNSW INTEGRITY CONTACTS: MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  mprentice@hrnsw.com.au GRANT ADAMS | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •  gadams@hrnsw.com.au

Melbourne Cup-winning horse trainer Darren Weir and two other men have been arrested in police raids at Weir's Victorian properties. Victoria Police said the raids were part of a Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit investigation into alleged corruption in racing. In a statement, police said the men were arrested for questioning as part of an investigation into suspected offences including obtaining financial advantage by deception, engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome, use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes, attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception. A 26-year-old man and a 38-year-old man were also arrested. Weir, 48, is widely regarded as Australia's leading horse trainer and trained the 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning horse Prince of Penzance, which jockey Michelle Payne rode to victory. At the end of last year, harness racing in New Zealand was rocked by allegations of race-fixing. It's believed that a number of high profile figures in harness racing were the target of raids around the country. Most of those accused have been granted name suppression and are due to appear in court this year. In a statement, Racing Victoria's general manager of integrity, Jamie Stier, said the police raids were linked to an investigation by the racing body. "Racing Victoria's Integrity Services team has been conducting an investigation into the activities of licensed persons in the Warrnambool and Ballarat areas," he said. "During the course of our investigation we sought the support of Victoria Police's Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit." Mr Stier said members of Racing Victoria's integrity team joined police on the raids at the properties. "Racing Victoria is committed to maintaining the highest integrity standards in our sport and, where appropriate, we will continue to work with Victoria Police on those investigations." Police said a firearm and "what is believed to be a conducted energy device" were also seized. Weir has a high-tech training facility at Miners Rest and a beach stable in Warrnambool. Police searched a truck at the trainer's Miners Rest property this morning, going through its cab and the vehicle's exterior. Victoria's Racing Minister, Martin Pakula, said he was aware of the police investigation and did not want to say anything to prejudice its outcome. "I would simply say as a racing fan and as the Racing Minister, integrity in our sport is incredibly important and any allegation of a breach of the rules of racing is extremely disappointing," he said. "It is important to note that this is another demonstration that our racing integrity unit within Racing Victoria will pursue any matter without fear or favour, and that is clearly what they have done." Reprinted with permission of Radio New Zealand

MGM Resorts International and its real estate arm, MGM Growth Properties, have finalized their $850 million purchase of the Empire City Casino and its 97 acres of developable land in Yonkers, New York, just 15 miles north of Manhattan’s Times Square. The purchase gives MGM — which opened its $960 million MGM Springfield resort casino in August — a fourth property in the Northeast. MGM bought out its partner and took control of the Borgata in Atlantic City and opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland, both in 2016. MGM Springfield President and CEO Michael Mathis said MGM’s operation in Yonkers will help it market MGM Springfield, especially through MGM’s M life rewards program. “The Empire City Casino acquisition in Yonkers is designed to tap into the underserved NY market, which will complement the MGM Springfield market. MGM’s unmatched East Coast presence in major markets allows for significant cross marketing and customer loyalty programming that offer us a clear competitive edge. We are well positioned to be a leader in the Northeast’s multi-billion dollar gaming market," Mathis wrote in an email. The New York Gaming Commission approved the deal Monday, as well as MGM’s permission to run harness racing at the 120-year-old track. Continued racing is a requirement under Empire City Casino’s license to run slot machines. “We are pleased to welcome the 1,200 employees at Empire City Casino to the MGM Resorts family,” said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, in a news release. “With this new addition to the MGM Resorts portfolio, we have now gained a foothold in the high-density New York City region and we look forward to leveraging the MGM platform to maximize value in this evolving marketplace.” Tribal Winds: East Windsor casino project has new name, new push from Foxwoods and Mohegan to compete with MGM Springfield This comes as the Connecticut legislature is asked to pass legislation allowing casino expansion to East Windsor. MGM bought the property from the Rooney family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers and owners of Yonkers Raceway since 1972. The Empire City Casino opened in 2006. “What’s incredibly exciting is the amount of opportunity MGM Resorts will bring to the employees at Empire City, as well as Westchester County, the city of Yonkers, and the State of New York,” said Timothy J. Rooney, president and CEO of Empire City Casino, in a news release. “With destinations throughout the world, from resorts to casinos to entertainment, MGM has a tried-and-true formula for success. ... the potential for growth at Empire City has absolutely no boundaries.” Over the years, MGM has told investors it plans to leverage the marketing power of its East Coast casinos, offering package deals and cross promotions to get visitors moving among the casinos and looking to MGM’s Vegas properties for longer vacations. MGM is also in the final stages of buying Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in Ohio for $1 billion. Empire City Casino is 125 miles and a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Springfield. Empire City doesn’t have state permission to run table games. It offers slot-machine-like electronic games at 5,200 video-lottery terminals operated by the state lottery. MGM Resorts said will pay an additional $50 million to the Rooneys if Empire City is awarded a license for live table games by the end of 2022 and if MGM Resorts gets the license by the end of 2024. But New York has a moratorium on new casino development until 2023. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the news website Lohud.com that he is aware that MGM would like to get a full casino with table games in Yonkers, but didn’t indicate he would look to make any changes to the time frame. “I know it’s a topic of conversation, but I have no opinion or intention of making any changes at this time," Cuomo said. "It’s an evolving field, there’s no doubt about that.” The website USBets said MGM might relocate the required harness racing meet to Belmont Park, a thoroughbred track and home of the Belmont Stakes, to free up space for development at the Yonkers track. By Jim Kinney Reprinted with permission of the MassLive.com site

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