Four veterinarians entered guilty pleas for their illegal doping of thoroughbred race horses at Penn National Race Track in Grantville, Pennsylvania. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Dr. Kevin Brophy, age 60, Florida, Dr. Fernando Motta, age 44, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Dr. Christopher Korte, age 43, Pueblo, Colorado, pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab in Harrisburg. Dr. Renee Nodine, age 52, Annville, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon. Each defendant is charged with allegedly administering drugs to horses within 24 hours of when the horse was entered to race. This conduct was in violation of the state law prohibiting the rigging of publicly exhibited contests and regulations prohibiting the administration of drugs to horses within 24 hours of when they are entered to race. Additionally, because the administering of the drugs was in violation of the state criminal laws, rules and regulations governing thoroughbred racing, they were not dispensed in the course of the defendants’ professional practice. At the guilty plea proceedings before Magistrate Judge Schwab, Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe explained that the drugs were not administered to treat the horses but to enhance the horses’ performance in the race or to give it an edge over other horses. According to Behe this constituted misbranding of the prescription animal drugs in violation of federal law. The alleged activity took place at various times beginning as early as 1986 and continuing up to August 2014. The Informations also allege that the defendants conspired with horse trainers, whose identities are “known to the United States”, to administer the drugs in violation of the laws, rules and regulations governing the conduct of thoroughbred racing. The guilty pleas this week were pursuant to plea agreements in which the defendants agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the United States in the continuing investigation. At the guilty plea proceedings Behe informed the court that cooperation by the defendants was an essential part of the plea agreement and that the defendants had already identified for the United States the many trainers with whom the defendants conspired with to illegally administer drugs to the horses. Behe identified for the court the drugs that were administered to include, among others, Kentucky Red, Carolina Gold, Bute, Dexamethasone, Banamine, Stop2, Estrogen, L-Arginine, and ACTH. According to the charges, trainers allegedly placed orders for drugs and the defendants, after administering the drugs, backdated the billing records to avoid detection. The defendants allegedly submitted false veterinarian treatment reports to the State Horse Racing Commission, omitting from those reports any reference to the drugs administered to horses at the track on race day. The filing of these reports and the backdating of billing records were, allegedly, to further the conspiracy by concealing the illegal activity. These acts had the potential to defraud other owners and trainers whose horses were entered in the same race and defrauded the betting public as well. The matter is being investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe is prosecuting the cases for the United States. Indictments and criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court. A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The maximum penalty in these cases under the federal statute is 2 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $200,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant. By Paul Smith Reprinted with permission of Fox43.com
Five veterinarians have been invited to speak at the Ohio State Racing Commission monthly meeting to discuss possible medication practices for Ohio horseracing. The meeting will be held on April 28, at 10 a.m., 19th floor of the Riffe Center, 77 South High St., Columbus. These veterinarians will present their views regarding medication protocols for both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries, and provide their insight into the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) controlled therapeutic medication proposals. The veterinarians scheduled to attend include: Dr. John Reichert, partner/practitioner at the Woodland Run Equine Clinic in Grove City. Dr. Dan Wilson, partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic specializing in racetrack Standardbreds, equine anesthesia, and racing medications and testing. Dr. John Piehowicz, practitioner/owner at Cincinnati Equine, LLC, whose client list includes Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup winning conditioners. Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic whose area of focus includes lameness evaluation, respiratory health and MRI. Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians and a practitioner in central Kentucky. At the March OSRC meeting, the USTA's Phil Langley and Mike Tanner, along with the HBPA's Dave Basler and trainer William Cowans and the OHHA's Renee Mancino and trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr., offered their thoughts on medication and testing procedures. During February's OSRC meeting Edward Martin, RCI President and Dr. Dionne Benson, RMTC Executive Director provided input into these same subjects. The OSRC values input from all stakeholders within both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred Ohio racing communities and is moving forward into developing a sound medication policy. Kimberly A. Rinker Administrator Ohio Standardbred Development Fund Kimberly A. Rinker Administrator Ohio Standardbred Development Fund email@example.com Ohio State Racing Commission 77 S. High Street, 18th Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108 Phone 614-779-0269 Fax 614-466-1900
Harness Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board Result of the appeal held before the Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on 10 April 2015. Graeme Lang Against a $500 fine imposed by the stewards under Rule 168(1) at the Bendigo meeting on 19 March 2015. Appeal dismissed. HRV RAD Board Panel: Brian Collis QC (Chairman), John Denahy Appellant Representative: Joe Beder HRV Representative: Kylie Harrison TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS RACING AND DISCIPLINARY BOARD BRIAN COLLIS QC, Chairman MR JOHN DENAHY EXTRACT OF PROCEEDINGS GRAEME LANG DECISION FRIDAY 10 APRIL 2015 MS K HARRISON appeared on behalf of the HRV Stewards MR JOE BEDER appeared on his behalf of Mr Lang The Board has considered the evidence given at the stewards inquiry held on the 19th of March as per the transcript of that inquiry which has been tendered. We’ve considered the video footage of the race and we’ve considered the evidence and submissions this day including the documentary evidence. Mr Graeme Lang is 82 years of age, he has been involved in the harness racing industry for at least 60 years and is held in high esteem in the harness racing industry generally. We’ve been taken to his record since the year 1980 and it has been pointed out that on occasions when he has been charged with dropping his foot from the sulky rest that that has not resulted in any charge of improper driving and the he has been dealt with by way of caution or by way of moderate fines to say the least and in so being dealt obviously the stewards were not satisfied that there was any intentional act in those occurrences. The horse Katmandonny is a horse of moderate performance. In the concluding stages the Board is satisfied that Mr Lang did maintain a balanced posture and whilst maintaining that balanced posture his left foot did come down from the sulky rest. We are not satisfied on the evidence that there was any contact caused to the hind legs of the horse Katmandonny but we are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the opinion of the stewards that his foot to leave the footrest in those circumstances was improper driving within the meaning of 168(1) of the Australian Rules of Harness Racing was a reasonably held opinion and therefore we dismiss the appeal with the finding of conviction. Further notwithstanding Mr Lang’s long and excellent record as the Board has found that he was guilty of improper driving on this occasion and as the penalty imposed by the stewards was the usual penalty for this offence we dismiss the appeal as to penalty also. Graeme Lang driving Katmandonny - The race in question The Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board (RADB) is established under section 50B of the Racing Act (1958). The RADB is an independent Board established to hear and determine appeals in relation to decisions made under the rules to impose penalties on persons and to hear and determine charges made against persons for serious offences. Harness Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board
Racing industry officials in late March and early April said they again expect to see federal legislation filed this year that would authorize the United States Anti-Doping Agency to oversee equine medication and drug testing procedures. Last summer The Jockey Club at its Round Table conference indicated it would advocate for federal involvement in addition to current state-by-state efforts to adopt the National Uniform Medication Program. Also last August Travis Tygart, chief executive officer and counsel for USADA, outlined a strategy at a briefing put together by the Water Hay Oats Alliance. WHOA, which has a growing membership of Thoroughbred stakeholders, in its mission statement supports passage of a federal bill that would "prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing" via an independent anti-doping program run by USADA. During the Racing Officials Accreditation Program conference in late March, industry officials said there will be a heightened push in 2015 for federal legislation that would be similar to a bill introduced in 2013. Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, suggested the legislation would identify USADA to oversee the program. "RCI does not have a position on any piece of legislation," Martin said at the ROAP conference. "It does believe in using a compact that lets states maintain their authority. We can spend a lot of time and money playing musical chairs to address the issue. Organizations are spending money on lobbyists that can be used for equine welfare or funding the TRPB to hire investigators. That's the problem we have to address, not the rearranging of the chairs." Details on the 2015 strategy aren't yet known, though Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, indicated April 2 the organization is maintaining the course it outlined last year. "The Jockey Club continues to closely monitor the progress of the National Uniform Medication Program and, at the same time, consider strategies to broaden our advocacy for improved and uniform regulation for Thoroughbred racing," Gagliano said. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association also predicted lawmakers will be solicited to sponsor federal legislation on medication regulation and testing. The organization, as it has in the past, won't take a position on the issue. "The NTRA has taken no position on these bills as our membership remains divided on the issue of federal or central authority over testing for banned substances and the regulation of therapeutic medications," NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop said. "However, the association continues to provide information and data to interested parties and remains committed to achieving consensus on this issue." The NTRA on its board has representatives of horsemen's groups and racetracks, some of which oppose federal involvement. Others on the NTRA board, such as The Jockey Club, believe more must be done regarding medication and drug testing. Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association chairman Alan Foreman, who also spoke at the ROAP conference, said whether there is federal oversight or not, the research and scientific advice will have to come from the horseracing industry because USADA hasn't done equine drug testing. He also cited progress on adoption of all or parts of the National Uniform Medication Program. "You'll hear the only answer is for the federal government to regulate horse racing," Foreman said. "If (supporters) a year ago got behind a uniform message that racing has a better story to tell than any other sport, I guarantee you the public's impression of the sport would be different at this time." The National Uniform Medication Program allows for the use of race-day furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix. The proposed Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013 called for a ban on all medication within 24 hours of a race, with a two-year exception for furosemide. Whether the same language is included in the 2015 version of the bill remains to be seen. Foreman indicated he believes it will be part of the bill. "Lasix is going to be like gun control or abortion," he said. "It's going to divide this industry." Tygart last year made a point to note the issue is about federal legislation, not federal regulation or intervention. If USADA was authorized to handle equine drug testing and enforcement, the organization would have to develop rules, with industry input, that would be unique to horse racing, he said. USADA isn't a federal agency, though it does receive federal grant money. Tygart also said there is an inherent conflict of interest when a sport promotes and polices itself, and suggested horse racing falls into that category under its current structure. Martin of RCI, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that state regulators are independent by virtue of their responsibilities. Written by Tom LaMarra Reprinted with the permission of bloodhorse.com Read more on BloodHorse.com:
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) today heard an application of Mr Craig Demmler for a stay of proceedings regarding a decision made by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 18 March 2015. The decision of the RAD Board was to affirm the 13 March 2015 decision of the HRV Stewards to suspend the training and driving licences of Mr Demmler pending the outcome of an investigation into an analytical report that one of Mr Demmler’s horses returned an elevated raceday cobalt level that was in excess of the relevant threshold permitted by the rules. After hearing submissions from the legal representatives of Mr Demmler and the HRV Stewards, VCAT dismissed Mr Demmler’s application for a stay of proceedings, resulting in Mr Demmler’s licences remaining suspended. The VCAT determined it was only hearing the stay application at this stage and such suspension would remain in place until such time as a further VCAT review hearing (regarding the RAD Board decision) was held on a date to be fixed. Harness Racing Victoria
Statement from harness racing trainer Lou Pena's Lawyer Andrew J. Turro; Needless to say, Lou and I were both disappointed that the Third Department did not recognize that the Commission has violated his statutory and constitutional rights as the Supreme Court had previously ruled. We both are fully committed to the challenges ahead and recognize that the path to justice can be a winding road. We intend to appeal the Third Department's decision to the New York Court of Appeals, the State's highest court, and remain optimistic that in the end, justice will be served and that Lou will be fully vindicated. The full Court transcript
“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. – John Kenneth Galbraith The majority of race tracks are not populated by horses with the qualifications of Dortmund or California Chrome, or by trainers with the name recognition of Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert or Steve Asmussen. The base of the racing pyramid is built with horses named Grant or Get a Notion, animals that are kept in racing condition by trainers who toil in relative anonymity at tracks often ignored by the people who often forget racing occurs at places other than the cathedrals of the sport like Saratoga or Churchill Downs or Santa Anita. The base of the pyramid is built on the blue collar efforts of guys like Bill Brashears, conditioners keeping $3,500 claimers healthy enough to run and plying their trade in the minor leagues of racing at tracks like Turf Paradise, Arapahoe Park, Farmington, Rilito, and Albuquerque. Brashears comes across exactly like what he is. A guy who shoots straight and understands that you treat people with unambiguous honesty and fairness, expecting the same in return. He is guileless and smart and hard-working, a trainer’s trainer. Success in his business is based on relationships, knowing who the good guys and not so good guys are. Who can be trusted and who needs to be taken with a few grains of salt. In Bill’s world you give the good guys the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to. The bad guys – better to just not deal with them. He treats his horses with the kind of care you only see from someone with a love for the thoroughbred and a passion for watching them run. He is not the guy described by a cynical racing executive as being willing to do anything that will allow him to win. It is simply not in his nature to do anything less than treat his horses as if they were family, the core of Brashears Racing. You can see him metamorphose around his horses, the hardscrabble exterior melting away into a doting grandfather, feeding them peppermints and affectionately scratching at their muzzle. He admits that when he climbed over a fence at 13 so he could see horses run, he was hooked. He trains not simply because it is a job, but because it is so much a part of who he is. He’ll never amass a fortune running at the smaller tracks, but that was never his goal. If Bill Brashears is remembered as a trainer who worked his butt off and played by the rules and was an example to any trainer hoping to make a mark in racing the right way, he will be satisfied. What a lot of trainers, including Bill Brashears, are having trouble with is believing they could do everything what they thought was the right way, but have still been hit with medication positives. In Brashears case the offending drug was Banamine, a medication that has been used for years to help control inflammation. Horses are athletes and they suffer from the same affflictions common to all athletes. It is nothing less than humane to treat horses with therapeutic medications, drugs that will provide comfort to the animals while they recuperate. What a therapeutic like Banamine doesn’t do is mask pain in a way that will allow a horse to run as if nothing is wrong. Ask any veterinarian – if you are trying to mask an injury, you would have to use a fairly strong narcotic not the equine equivalent of ibuprofen. Again ask any veterinarian – inflammation is a natural process and it is critical for survival. It is defined as “a protective immunovascular response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.” The problem is that often this process becomes excessive, creating a vicious cycle and causing more tissue damage and pain than the injury itself might. Inflammation can produce different products, including prostaglandins and other inflammatory “mediators” that help bring about these effects. According to Thal Equine Hospital in Santa Fe, NM, “This is where anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful. Their role is to dampen inflammation by reducing the formation of these mediators, and thus reducing the signs of disease (swelling, pain and fever, for example) while still allowing healing to take place.” In other words, anti-inflammatory drugs are precisely what are indicated for certain conditions. One might even argue it is cruel not to give a horse with inflammation a medication. Banamine belongs to a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDS”), which includes familiar human drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. They are drugs that have been used safely and effectively for decades. It is generally the veterinarian’s drug of choice for soft tissue inflammatory conditions (sore muscles) and is considered kinder to a horse’s stomach than phenylbutazone (bute) for treating joint swelling. Banamine is also a good choice for horses that have a tendency to tie-up. The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has stated, “Class 4 or 5 therapeutic medications (mostly NSAID-type medications such as Phyenylbutazone) are used to ease the aches and pains of training – akin to a person taking an Advil before or after a competition. It will not make that individual run any faster or jump any higher than his or her natural ability to do so.” For those concerned about the welfare of the horse, NSAIDs, when used as prescribed, do not put a horse at substantially elevated risk of catastrophic injury. So if you are a racing commissioner and you believe it is necessary to set a standard for Banamine, the question you should ask is straightforward: at what level is the analgesic benefit of Banamine essentially negligible? Whether or not Banamine might have some residual benefit to inflammation should be irrelevant, since good veterinary practice has already established that reductions in inflammation often speed healing. If a horse is not receiving an analgesic effect, it would be hard to argue the drug is performance enhancing. THAT is the level at which we should set the standard. Most vets and pharmacologists agree that any post-race level below 50ng/ml and a withdrawal time of 24-hours from administration will completely ensure elimination of the analgesic effect Racing is governed for the most part by politically appointed boards and commissions. The commissions are not normally filled with experts on pharmacology, and they are often at the mercy of long-time administrators, people like Rick Arthur in California, Joe Gorajec in Indiana, and Dan Hartman in Colorado. These are the people who populate the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), a group on the record as calling for “the racing industry and member regulators to embrace a strategy to phase out drugs and medication in horse racing.” (ARCI Press Release March 28, 2011) The chairman of the ARCI at the time of that press release? Dan Hartman, Executive Director of the Colorado Racing Commission. He becomes an integral part of Bill Brashears story. In that press release Hartman is quoted as saying that “a five-year phase out [of Lasix] is reasonable to bring North American racing policies in line with what is going on in other parts of the world like Europe and Hong Kong.” Hartman’s successor, William Koester, Chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, added, “Today over 99% of Thoroughbred racehorses and 70% of Standardbred racehorses have a needle stuck in them four hours before a race. That just does not pass the smell test with the public or anyone else except horse trainers who think it necessary to win a race. I’m sure the decision makers at the time meant well when these drugs were permitted, however this decision has forced our jurisdictions to juggle threshold levels as horseman become more desperate to win races and has given horse racing a black eye.” Koester’s statement is meant to inflame (no pun intended) by referencing needles stuck in horses, as if it was some willy-nilly attempt to torture helpless animals. When I was shadowing Doug O’Neill I watched his vet, Dr Ryan Patterson, administer a Lasix shot and if you had blinked you would have missed it. The horse had no negative reaction at all. Koester further pounds home the point that trainers are medicating their horses only to gain an advantage and win races, seemingly arguing they are not doing it to ensure the horse’s health is being managed so that it can race without distress. Not passing the smell test and black eye for racing are the justifications for trying to make all racing drug free. It reminds me of a quote from Arnold Glasow. “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” As long as administrators with the power to make the rules for racing insist the seamy underbelly of racing is legal therapeutic medication, it can become the facts. The press release states that ARCI intends to move toward “enacting a policy of zero-tolerance.” (Note: Once Koester took over as chair, he quickly backed off that statement, stating the ARCI does not subscribe to a policy of zero-tolerance, but bear in mind it was Hartman who approved the press release.) Hartman concludes, “We regulators are the only voice in racing for the animals and betting public. It’s time we raise the bar in service to both.” To reference the famous Pogo line, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” I have already written about why we cannot be Hong Kong (http://halveyonhorseracing.com/?p=910). Basically, North America runs more races in a week in August than Hong Kong’s entire racing year. To populate those races we need ten times the number of horses in training than Hong Kong does. How does North America compare with Dubai and its 23 racing days a year? I’ll go out on a limb and say if we were racing at a couple of tracks the equivalent of three weeks a year we could have Dubai’s drug policies too. Look at the standards for Europe or Australia. Other than Lasix, there is often not a significant difference between those jurisdictions and North America for therapeutics, and some threshold levels for therapeutic medications are even higher than the ARCI standards. The upshot of the zero-tolerance Dan Hartman favors is almost certainly the demise of small tracks and reduced field size at the tracks that survive, incredibly ironic when one considers one of the small tracks that would suffer is Colorado’s own Arapahoe Park. ARCI has relied on studies commissioned by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) to establish post-race residual levels and recommended withdrawal times. In the case of Banamine (flunixin), a study done by Heather Kynch, Rick Sams, Rick Arthur, and Scott Stanley on how quickly flunixin was cleared in exercised horses provided the initial recommendation on which the flunixin standard was based. They tested one model (called the sedentarymodel) in which four non-exercised horses were tested and it was determined a probable threshold level of 20 ng/mL with a withdrawal time of 24 hours. For those not familiar with the nanogram (ng) it is a billionth of a gram. However, subsequent testing using a racehorse model took 20 horses in training and determined exact plasma concentrations of Banamine, concluding that 99% of horses would have less than 50 ng/mL, and thus recommended a threshold value of 50 ng/mL 24 hours after administration of the recommended dose. If 20 sounds like a small number for testing animals to set a standard, according to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products study on the Evaluation of Medicines for Veterinary Use (2000), 19 is the minimum number of animals that need to be tested to conclude a 95% confdence level that 95% of the population will be below a respective standard. Think about this for a minute. Like a lot of ARCI standards, the testing is not to determine at what level a medication stops being performance enhancing (or retarding) but at a level at which almost all horses would have cleared all but a residual amount of the medication by some time in the future. Remember, the ARCI objective as plainly stated by Dan Hartman in 2011 was to eventually rid thoroughbred racing of the scourge of “drugs and medication.” It also points out something else that is critical when looking at new standards – the availability of new mass spectrometers that can measure ridiculously small amounts, even less than nanograms down to picograms – trillionths of a gram. As Dr. Steven Barker said to me once, “show me a lab measuring amounts in picograms and I’ll show you a lab with an expensive new machine they need to justify.” Despite the RMTC study recommendation, the ARCI in April 2013 adopted the 20 ng/mL (with a recommended 24-hour withdrawal time) standard. It is critical to note that even at the time ARCI adopted the standard it was cast as a “95/95 standard.” As noted above, this means there is a 95% level of confidence that 95% of the horses tested would fall below the standard. In plain terms, one in 20 horses would still be expected to fail a post-race test. By that measure, if a track tested the first and second place finishers of a ten race program, and they all had been given 10 cc’s of Banamine, at least one of them had a probability to come back over the standard. Think about this. ARCI had a chance to adopt a standard (50 ng/mL) that would have all but guaranteed no undeserved positives and no performance enhancement, and instead picked a standard where non-pharmacologically merited violations would abound. Dr. Steven Barker at LSU didn’t equivocate on the adoption of the original ARCI standard. “The Banamine standard is too high, and it is because ARCI didn’t pay any attention to pharmacologists. With the recommended dose, there is no analgesic effect 24 hours after administering Banamine.” So with Dan Hartman at the helm, Colorado adopted the ARCI therapeutic medication schedule of 20 ng/mL for Banamine and in March 2014 the Colorado Racing Commission staff and the track stewards had a meeting with the veterinarians who worked on track at Arapahoe Park. Dr. James Dysart, Bill Brashears’ veterinarian in Colorado, and a vet who has been practicing about as long as Bill Brashears has been training horses, was in attendance at that meeting and asked specifically about what treatment changes would be indicated in 2014. According to Dr. Dysart, he was clearly told, if you practice as you did last year there should be no problems. With regard to Banamine, in March Dr. Dysart was told 10 cc’s with a 24 hour withdrawal time would prevent positives. So when it came to Banamine Dr. Dysart did exactly as he did the year before and by July Bill Brashears had three Banamine positives. There were six positives in all in Colorado and half belonged to Brashears. I asked Dr. Dysart why there were not more positives, and based on his practice, he indicated many trainers had thrown in the towel and switched to bute. Whether the reason was the change in flunixin standard, cost or efficacy, trainers made the switch. After Brashears was hit with the first Banamine positive, he and Dr. Dysart huddled and decided to drop the dosage by 20% to 8 cc’s and increase the withdrawal time closer to 25 hours. Amounts and times for all horses are documented on the medication sheets maintained by Dr. Dysart, and there is no disagreement that the dose that was administered had sufficient withdrawal time based on the information Dr. Dysart was given in March. After Brashears had five horses test clean after the first positive, he figured they had found the right formula. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case. Brashears was informed that two horses that raced about 10 days apart in July came back positive (both under 30 ng/mL), even after receiving the 8 cc dosage. Brashears had no way of adjusting dosage or withdrawal time for the third horse since the results of the testing for the second horse had not yet been given to him. In fact, Brashears was informed of the last two violations at the same time, well after he could have made a further adjustment. Based on that Brashears expected the second and third violations to be combined into one. Until he was given notice of the last two positives, Brashears sensibly was given a warning after the first violation, made a documented adjustment in an effort to comply, and as far as he could see had success with the new protocol, so he stuck with it, not realizing at 20 ng/mL he was still in danger of a violation. Meanwhile something interesting happened at the RMTC. The high number of Banamine positives in different jurisdictions in 2013 caused them to reexamine the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI had adopted. Remember, the initial RMTC testing suggested 50 ng/ml would ensure 99% of the horses treated appropriately would test negative, and at best with the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI adopted we would still expect 5% positives. It turned out the reality was alarmingly beyond 5% positives. RMTC then did another study that included 16 horses (less than the 19 required for statistical validity) that were exercised under laboratory conditions, and four (25%) of the 16 showed residual levels over 20 ng/mL after 24 hours. But, given the umbilical tie between ARCI and the RMTC, rather than suggest the standard was wrong, it was determined the withdrawal time was too short. In fact, the subsequent RMTC study concluded at least 32 hours was required to maintain 95/95 compliance with a 20 ng/mL. In April 2014 ARCI revised the recommended withdrawal time for flunixin a mere year after originally adopting it, but left the 20 ng/mL in place. This was a critical conclusion because changing the withdrawal time instead of the residual standard ultimately would have the effect of eliminating the therapeutic value of Banamine. At 24 hours the analgesic effect is essentially gone, and approaching 32 hours really limits the anti-inflammatory effect. In other words, this could be seen as an indirect way to ban Banamine consistent with the ARCI stated goal. This was also critical because the ARCI standard was not actually either 20 ng/mL or 32 hours, it was simply 20 ng/mL. Regardless of when Banamine is administered, 24 hours or 32 hours, if the level is over 20 ng/mL the horse is in violation. According to Dr. Dysart, veterinarians in Colorado were not told the recommended withdrawal time had changed to 32 hours until July. Since the 32 hours was nothing more than a recommendation, there was no need to provide notification of rulemaking. That would only be necessary if the standard was proposed for revision. The new recommendation came too late for Brashears though. He had to hope the Colorado Racing Commission saw that he and his vet had done everything the Commission assured them would maintain compliance and be lenient with their punishment. Brashears asked for split samples to be tested for the second and third violations, and both confirmed he was over the 20 ng/mL standard (but well below 50 ng/mL). Brashears appealed, resting his case on the fact that his veterinarian did exactly what he had done hundreds of times and was assured he could continue doing it before the season without risking a violation. In front of a hearing officer he lost and on he went to his final appeal to the Colorado Racing Commission. Brashears’ attorney made the relevant arguments, and once the testimony and final arguments were completed the Commission voted on a motion to saddle Brashears with both the second and third violations as separate events. One of the five commissioners was absent from the hearing, and the vote on the motion was 2-2, which normally would have been a win for Brashears. In a rare occurrence, the Commission moved to go into executive session where they got the missing commissioner on the phone, and re-voted on the motion. When they came back Brashears had lost his appeal 5-0. I asked Dan Hartman if this was a regular practice. He said no, but the Assistant Attorney General was consulted and opined it was a perfectly legal procedure. It was never clear exactly what happened to go from 2-2 to 5-0, but Brashears was ultimately assessed a $1,500 fine and 15 days. One of the people privy to the discussions in the executive session suggested that the Commissioners were advised that letting Brashears off the hook could leave them vulnerable to a subsequent action by Brashears. The concern was that it would essentially be an admission that Colorado had committed an error by leading the veterinarians to believe either historical protocols were sufficient for compliance or that a 24-hour withdrawal time indicated compliance. Brashears is not new to the game, and he understood a violation, even if it is for a bad standard, is a violation. Despite believing he had done nothing wrong, he was willing to bargain with the Commission, offering to pay a fine (less than the $1,500) if the days were waived. It appeared the Commission wanted nothing less than what Brashears was ultimately given. Bill Brashears has paid an even higher price than the fine, the loss of purse money and the cost of an attorney. He’s lost clients. After all, owners don’t want to be associated with someone with a medication positive, regardless of the circumstances. He’s lost the ability to even make a living during his suspension. Most of all he’s lost some of his belief that if you do right by racing, racing will do right by you. For Brashears part, he has sworn off racing again in Colorado. He is firm in his belief he didn’t cheat, and that he was the pawn in a bigger battle over medication in racing. In the end, Colorado not only will lose a long term trainer, but a guy who cares about his horses and about training them the right way. It’s hard to imagine this was a success for anyone. I asked Bill Brashears what bothered him the most. He said, “What makes me the most upset is [Arapahoe Park General Manager] Bruce Seymore telling me at the first Commission meeting that he knew I was innocent but that they were going to hang me anyway. I believe Hartman knows I’m innocent but their grand plan of Colorado being medication free would go down the tank if their first experiment went so wrong. Spending thousands of dollars in attorney fees for their screw-up and I’m still doing 15 days and being fined $1,500 and the division [the Colorado Division of Racing] calling it trainer responsibility. Where’s their responsibility?” Author - Rich Halvey
For quite a period now, the future of harness racing in North America has been closely aligned with the Casino Industry. To overcome restrictions on setting up stand alone Casinos, a lot of operators have set up Casinos at thoroughbred and harness racing venues. State governments have required the Casino Operators to support and promote the racing product due to the racing industry being so job intensive which affects everybody's bottom line if they were to fold due to the competition from the Casinos. To get around these restrictions, some Casino Operators have come up with some clever race programming to kill off the racing side of their business. Devise a program schedule that is light on money and very prescriptive as to the race conditions and you make it impossible for racing to survive long term. It is an outcome that some casino operators are trying to achieve. The video below summed up the overall position very nicely. Harnesslink Media
Harness Racing New South Wales has assigned security personnel on all runners engaged in tonight's Gr. 1 Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown. The harness racing event will be run on the new 1000 metre Bathurst track for the first time. The security personnel were in position at 7am this morning and will remain with the runners until they are presented on course tonight. HRNSW's objective in the use of this strategy is to provide a level playing field for all runners under its regulation and control. It is the first time that security has been assigned to monitor Gold Crown runners and follows on from the strong integrity measures undertaken during this year's Sydney Inter Dominion carnival. Greg Hayes | Media Coordinator | Harness Racing New South Wales |
Following a review of the circumstances surrounding Race 3, the Bob Freeman Memorial Monte at Ballarat on 22 February 2015, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) can confirm the error in failing to review the final 200 metres of the race prior to declaring all clear was attributable to human error. Chief Steward at the meeting Shane Larkins has accepted full responsibility for the error and has been counselled. Ln accordance with the terms of Mr Larkins employment contract appropriate action has been taken by HRV Management. In order to mitigate the risk of such a circumstance occurring in the future, HRV have made a procedural direction to Stewards in regard to all future Monté events, being that all clear is not to be confirmed until the final 200m of each race has been reviewed to ensure that no horse is in breach of Australian Rule of Harness Racing 331. Harness Racing Victoria
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The stewards report from Saturday nights Hunter Cup reads like a harness racing report from the front line at a war. Numerous people and horses were examined, censured or fined and we have to say how refreshing it is to see a group of stewards who seem to take their jobs so seriously. There were so many unanswered questions after the race but reading the stewards report has clarified a lot of those issues for us. We here at Harnesslink are never slow to point the finger at a lack of oversight at times of what happens on and off the track by stewards throughout Australasia. In this case we think they have done an outstanding job and hope they continue the standard of Saturday night's report into the future. The one interesting feature of the report which was unclear is the inquiry into the conduct of Emma Stewart towards the stewards after race 9. A little bit more clarity would have been appreciated. Stewards Report RACE 8 –DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP HUNTER CUP (GROUP 1) (3280 SS) Arden Rooney NZ, Adore Me NZ, Restrepo, Im Corzin Terror NZ and Washmepockets NZ all began badly and each will be drawn wide for standing start races. Adore Me lost considerable distance while galloping and took no competitive part in the race. Christen Me NZ raced roughly after the start and inconvenienced Guaranteed. Flaming Flutter broke after the start and will be drawn wide in future standing start races. Philadelphia Man over-raced in the middle stages. Easy On The Eye was inclined to pull hard in the middle stages. Driver Joshua Aiken was fined $200 under Rule 168(1) which deals with careless driving in that he drove Smudge Bromac NZ forward at the 250m when held up behind Philadelphia Man resulting in Philadelphia Man carrying a flat tyre for the remainder of the race. Im Corzin Terror NZ was inconvenienced when Terror To Love and Guaranteed gave ground before being held up behind Washmepockets in the early stages of the home straight. Driver Kerryn Manning was fined $500 under Rule 156(2) for using her whip with a free hand prior to the 200m. Ms Manning was also fined $500 under Rule 156(3)(b) for her excessive use of the whip, which included her whip action in the early stages of the home straight and a breach of Rule 156(3)(f) for two strikes after the winning post. In assessing penalty, the level of the breaches and status of the race were major considerations. Driver Luke McCarthy was questioned about the tactics he adopted on Restrepo, particularly his decision to shift three-wide at the 1800m and challenge for the position outside the leader before restraining to the rear. Mr McCarthy explained that he thought Terror To Love would not get the parked position from Guaranteed and made the decision to be the first trailer in the three-wide line. When it became clear that Terror To Love obtained that position, Mr McCarthy had lost his position in the running line and tried for the parked position knowing that Terror To Love had done some work and may surrender. When it became clear driver Ricky May was intent on holding that position Mr McCarthy tried to gain a second three-wide trial which did not eventuate before restraining to the rear of the field. A post-race veterinary examination failed to reveal any significant abnormalities and given Restrepo was beaten 186m, the horse will be required to trial satisfactorily prior to future nominations being accepted. Guaranteed ($6.80) also gave ground over the latter stages after working three-wide between the 2300m and 1400m to be beaten 62m into eleventh place. A post-race veterinary examination revealed Guaranteed to be suffering from a suspected respiratory infection identified by abnormal lung sounds. As such Guaranteed was stood down pending clearance by way of a veterinary certificate. Driver Ricky May could not offer an explanation for the performance of Terror To Love ($7.40), stating that it was one of the worst performances of the horses career. Terror To Love worked three-wide with cover from the 2300m to obtain the position outside the leader for the final mile before giving ground over the latter stages and being beaten 71m into twelfth place. Mr May advised that he was instructed to work forward when given the opportunity and sit parked. Mr May said that with those tactics in mind he did not consider Restrepo was a suitable horse to surrender to when the opportunity arose. A post-race veterinary examination revealed a delayed recovery. An inquiry was adjourned into the conduct of trainer Emma Stewart upon leaving the Stewards Room after Race 9.
An investigation, commenced by the Harness Racing Victoria Stewards’ Department, and continued by the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit of Victoria Police, culminated yesterday in Victoria Police advising that criminal charges have been issued against licenced harness racing trainers Shayne Cramp and Greg Cramp. Upon receiving this advice, HRV Stewards have invoked the provisions of Australian Rule of Harness Racing 183 and suspended the licences of Shayne and Greg Cramp with immediate effect. No horse trained or owned by Shayne or Greg Cramp is able to race or trial. HRV Stewards have ordered the scratching of all of Shayne Cramp’s runners engaged at the Mildura meeting tonight. Any change of trainer requests from owners who have been impacted by these events must be approved by HRV. Shayne and Mr Greg Cramp have also been excluded under ARHR 15(1)(e) from attending any harness racing racecourse. HRV CEO John Anderson said: “It is important that the tireless work of Integrity Manager Andy Rogers is recognised. He initiated this exercise almost a year ago and has maintained a confidential vigilance throughout. I also commend the Chairman of Stewards Neal Conder and his panel for their ongoing contribution to the investigation. “I also wish to acknowledge the extensive commitment, dedication and tireless efforts of the whole team at the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit led by Detective Sergeant Kieran Murnane.” HRV respect the matters are now before the court and will be limiting any further comment. Harness Racing Victoria
Ex-Harness Racing NZ boss says he set up trust at centre of allegations to help clubs starved of funding. A stalwart of the racing industry among those facing claims of a $30 million pokie fraud has spoken of the sport being starved of cash. Former Harness Racing NZ chairman Pat O'Brien, 82, told the Herald he set up the pokies trust at the centre of the allegations to get cash for race stakes and other purposes after funding dried up. "The taxes the government take out of it don't leave enough for the clubs to exist on," he said. Click here to read the full article written by David Fisher for the New Zealand Herald
In the business environment, fostering the free market is as American as apple pie. When everyone is given an equal chance to develop and sell items of a certain product line, the quality of the items offered are invariably enhanced, while the price tags on the items become competitive, to the benefit of consumers. It is because of this that 125 years ago Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act; the first federal law of its kind promulgated to prohibit monopolistic activity in business that would tend to stifle competition. Yet, not every regulation that limits product development can be considered monopolistic. In the governmental realm, for example, consider that certain states license marijuana sale and use solely for medicinal purposes. While many entrepreneurs see this strict limitation as impinging upon free market retailing and a restraint upon trade, there exists a distinct countervailing state interest in protecting the public health through limiting the sale of cannabis-based products. Like everything else in law, there are few absolutes. What about limitations on the production of horses? Several years ago, our Association limited the stud books of stallions. The regulation was fashioned after genetic research disclosed that lack of diversity in our closed breed could be deleterious to the health of the progeny of a diminishing number of sires. Here, the regulation was not intended to limit production of foals or harm stallion syndicates, but rather to force breeders to make decisions that would ultimately promote healthy hybrids. Our Association has also prohibited cloning. In September 2013, we wrote about a successful challenge to the cloning ban established by American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) on antitrust grounds in a federal trial level court in Texas. At that time, we stated that taking reasonable steps to ensure the longevity of our Standardbred breed and breeders is our obligation, and is hardly monopolistic, and hoped that future judges and juries would recognize this fact when dealing with regulations prohibiting cloning. Click here to read the September 2013 Racing and the Law installment on Cloning: http://xwebapp.ustrotting.com/absolutenm/templates/article.aspx?articleid=55416&zoneid=29 Last month, the federal circuit court of appeals covering Texas unanimously reversed both the jury’s verdict and the judge’s injunction against the AQHA’s cloning ban. The court’s reasoning is as important as their resulting decision. The allegation by plaintiffs, a breeder and veterinarian, was that by refusing to register foals they create through cloning championship Quarter Horses, the AQHA is monopolizing the so-called “elite Quarter Horses” market. First, plaintiffs claimed that members of the Stud Book and Registration Committee (SBRC) of the AQHA actually were in a monopolistic conspiracy with the AQHA itself, because alleged vocal and influential member of the SBRC had strong economic interests in keeping cloned horses out of the AQHA registry. The plaintiffs argued that although the AQHA was a single entity, its members were in competition with one another and that the breeders were being protectionist in their prohibition against cloning. In support of their position, the plaintiffs cited a 2010 United States Supreme Court decision that found 32 National Football League teams to be in potential competition with one another when it came to producing and selling team logo wearing apparel and headgear. While the court agreed that the claim was plausible in a vacuum, it found that the facts simply didn’t support the assertion. The court declared that the AQHA is more than a sports league and is not a trade association, and that its quarter million members are involved in a variety of non-breeding activities such as ranching, pleasure riding and training. Further, plaintiffs’ own expert conceded that in the breeding segment less than .5% of the yearlings sold each year fall with the plaintiffs’ self-styled “elite Quarter Horse” submarket. Thus, the court concluded: “Under such circumstances, it is difficult to draw the conclusion that because a tiny number of economic actors within AQHA may “pursue their separate economic interests,” the organization has conspired with that minority.” Further, the court pointed out that no other case has yet held an animal breed registry in violation of antitrust laws because of passing qualifications regarding the specific breed. The court recalled its own 1977 ruling in which it found that the AQHA was not being monopolistic by refusing to register the progeny of “elite” lineage because the horses had white markings above the permissible places on its legs. It also discussed decisions involving breed restrictions in the dog registry realm. Plainly, the court grasped the obvious practical ramifications that flow from the actions of a breed registry: “Whenever an organization devoted to the preservation of an animal breed revises its standards, exclusions from the relevant “market” will occur… breed standards for these volunteer groups should often be immune from antitrust scrutiny because they are essential to ‘creating the product’.” In sum, and the arguable restrictiveness of the cloning prohibition aside, the court found no conspiratorial intent on behalf of the AQHA or its members and components in establishing and repeatedly reaffirming the cloning ban. The court found that SBRC’s members were constantly rotated, that many members had no involvement in breeding and, of those that did, only a handful were involved in so-called “elite” breeding. Finally, the court found that the AQHA is a member organization, and the organization does not itself compete in the “elite Quarter Horse” market. Click on the link below to read the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals decision dated January 14, 2015: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7090613983668169594&q=American+quarter+Horse&hl=en&as_sdt=3,33&as_ylo=2015 It is important to caution that the AQHA case does not stand for the proposition that cloning is bad, or that cloning racehorses should be considered impermissible breeding. Basically, the proof offered by plaintiffs failed to exclude the possibility that the alleged conspiratorial conduct in banning clones was in fact the result of independent action without nefarious intent. In this, the case and its reasoning bears striking similarly to a 1999 federal appeals court decision which fully exonerated our Association from all antitrust allegations when it voted to ban what it found to be an inherently dangerous sulky design. The action was done to, among other things, protect the safety of drivers. The great news is that a high level court has reaffirmed that an otherwise restrictive regulation imposed by an animal breed registry will not be considered an illegal restraint of trade, so long as the regulation has a rational basis and was developed in a non-conspiratorial fashion, the complaints of a few disgruntled folks notwithstanding. Chris E. Wittstruck is an attorney, a director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a charter member of the Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Law Network.
Five men have been arrested in raids over race-fixing allegations in Victorian harness racing. Police hit properties in Merbein, Birdwoodton, Irymple, Mildura and Bolinda about 6.45am on Monday, seizing documents and other items. Superintendent Peter Brigham said the 10-month investigation involved owners, trainers and drivers. "Match or race fixing is a crime and police will actively work to target and disrupt it right across the state," Supt Brigham said on Monday. "It doesn't matter if it's happening at major events in Melbourne or events at our smallest country towns." A 29-year-old Merbein man, a Birdwoodton man, 57, a Bolinda man, 54, an Irymple man, 52, and a Mildura man, 34, were arrested and will be interviewed. Reprinted with permission of AAP