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A horse allegedly doped by a harness racing trainer was scratched from its first race since the scandal broke after failing a veterinary test. Its new trainer is also facing a charge of attempting to start an unsound horse. Five-year-old gelding Johnny Nevits was allegedly injected and tubed only three weeks ago by Canterbury trainer Jesse Alford. The horse was then transferred to the Woodend training facility of trainer Cam Jones after Harness New Zealand suspended Alford’s licence.   Read the full story click here! Sam Sherwood Courtesy of Stuff

A harness racing trainer has been suspended after being caught injecting a suspected performance enhancing drug into two horses, hours before they were due to take to the track. Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) investigators watched on as junior driver and trainer Jesse Alford administered a substance to the horses at his stables in Woodend Beach, North Canterbury on Thursday afternoon. They then raided his property, seizing syringes and other items of interest. Testing is under way to determine what the horses were injected with, but it is thought to be a banned substance. Three horses trained by Alford – Jimmy Cannon, Johnny Nevits and Motor Mouth – were late scratchings from races at Addington Raceway in Christchurch on Thursday evening. The young trainer is expected to face several charges related to breaches of harness racing rules, including administering a prohibited substance and attempting to administer a prohibited substance on a race day. The matter is also likely to be referred to police. Read the full story at Stuff   by Sam Sherwood Courtesy of Stuff

The Racing Safety Development Fund is now open for applications until the end of March. “While the Government is in the process of implementing changes to revitalise the racing industry, health and safety will always be of the upmost importance. “This fund allows racecourses the opportunity to improve health and safety activities to ensure animals, staff and spectators can enjoy and reap the benefits of this industry,” Grant Robertson said. All racing clubs and racing code bodies should consider the condition and standard of their facilities and equipment, and assess whether they are safe for animals, staff and customers. The fund covers up to half the costs of a project with between $7,500 – $50,000 funding being available for each project. Past projects have included improvements for safety running rails, irrigation and drainage, lighting upgrades, and grandstand repair. Media contact: Chris Bramwell 021 581 149

View Fines and Suspensions for the week of January, 29, 2021 as reported to the USTA by racing commissions in the United States. This bulletin reports actions that have been taken by the USTA and rulings as submitted by the various racing commissions in an abbreviated form; we are not responsible for the accuracy or timeliness of such information. For full ruling text, or if you have questions or concerns about the information found in this report, please contact the racing commission where the ruling was issued. All reported rulings, current and past, may be found by using Pathway, the USTA’s official database. Although there is no charge for this information, a USTA account is required. For a list of archived bulletins, click here. Looking for Canadian Rulings? View rulings posted at Standardbred Canada. This information is collected and posted by Standardbred Canada. The USTA assumes no liability for errors or omission. Michele Kopiec, USTA Racetrack Operations & Licensing Manager

"Queen of harness racing" is awarded $30,000 after being 'struck in the forehead with a stiletto' by a Vet nurse on a night out - saying the scare left behind caused her irreparable damage. One of Australia's young 'queens of racing' has been awarded $30,000 after being struck in the head with a stiletto by another woman during an argument.  Deni Roberts is one of the biggest names in harness racing in her home state of Western Australia, having won 100 horse races since her first victory in 2015 and being promoted as a charity ambassador by the sports' chiefs.  The 25-year-old had been attending an awards event at Crown Casino in September 2017 when she got into a heated argument with veterinary nurse Asha Vanmaris, reports The West Australian.  Ms Vanmaris was also a guest at the the Harnass Horse of the Year awards and, after the presentation, moved on to Silks restaurant with Ms Roberts and other friends,  where the previously simmering argument boiled over.  Asha Vanmaris was convicted of causing unlawful wounding to Ms Roberts after the September 2017 fight The pair became involved in a push and shove outside the casino complex on the street which ended with a 3cm gash to Ms Robert's forehead.  'While they were standing on the footpath out of the sight of the others, (Ms Vanmaris) ran up to (Ms Roberts) and struck her with a stiletto shoe to the right side of the ... forehead. (She) stumbled and fell to the ground,' court documents stated. The rider was treated at hospital while Ms Vanmaris was arrested and charged with unlawful wounding.  The vet nurse claimed in court in December 2018 she was acting in self-defence but a magistrate found this was not the case.  Ms Vanmaris was given a spent conviction and a $2,500 fine.  She was also given a four month ban from the racetrack which was overturned on appeal.  Ms Roberts maintained that the attack had left her hyper-vigilant and nervous while the scar had left her self-conscious and applied for compensation for criminal injuries.  Ms Vanmaris argued in court she continues to work at the same racetrack as Ms Roberts, whom she sees twice weekly, and she seemed unaffected.   'She does not, nor has she ever seem fazed from the injury. She does not wear make-up over the area. She continues doing her job and I mine,' Ms Vanmaris said.  Compensation assesor Karina Hafford found in favour of Ms Roberts saying the visible location of the scar would serve as a constant reminder of the offence.  Ms Vanmaris was ordered to pay $29,533.25 minus the $2,5000 already paid to Ms Roberts.  By Brett Lackey Reprinted with permission of The Daily Mail Australia  

WHITLEY COUNTY — Officials are hopeful that the proposed horse racing facilities in Corbin and Williamsburg will continue moving forward despite the announcement from Keeneland and Red Mile that their historical racing operations would temporarily be closed after the Kentucky Supreme Court declined their petition to rehear a case regarding the legality of some games. Last year, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that at least some forms of historical race wagering did not meet the standard for pari-mutuel wagering. And last week, the high court declined to reconsider its previous ruling. The ruling stems from a dispute between racing interests and The Family Foundation, a conservative group that opposes expanded gambling. The foundation argued that historical horse racing machines do not meet pari-mutuel wagering standards under Kentucky law while attorneys for racing interests have insisted that historical horse racing is a valid form of wagering. Keeneland and Red Mile released the following statement Sunday on the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision not to rehear the case: “We were disappointed the Kentucky Supreme Court denied our petition for rehearing. At this time, Keeneland and Red Mile have made the very difficult decision to temporarily close historical horse racing operations until there is more clarity surrounding the situation. We have confidence the Kentucky legislature will continue its efforts to protect jobs and state revenue generated by historical horse racing, as well as protect Kentucky’s signature horse racing industry.” Bruce Carpenter, the Director of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Corbin Industrial Development Commission said he was aware of both the Supreme Court’s decision, and Keeneland’s decision concerning historical waging at its Red Mile facility. Carpenter said both sides, Keeneland and Corbin, were now waiting to see what will happen next in Frankfort. “We feel like the legislatures will take that up into session and pass something that will allow that as a legislative act,” Carpenter told the Times-Tribune. When asked about the future of the track coming to Corbin, Carpenter said he was still hopeful that it could happen. “I’m still very optimistic it’s going to continue to become a reality,” he said. Despite this decision, Keeneland Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Vince Gabbert told the Times-Tribune on Monday that he is hopeful that the Corbin and Williamsburg racing facilities will not be affected. “We are disappointed in the ruling by the Supreme Court and their denial of a rehearing on the issue,” said Gabbert. “However, it has not dampened our enthusiasm for the projects in Corbin and Williamsburg and we are committed to a legislative remedy that would allow the projects to move forward. And we will be working to address the issue as the legislature reconvenes next week.” The Republican-led legislature will resume its 2021 session next week. Keeneland and its new partnership with the majority owners of Kentucky Downs announced in September a plan for a Standardbred racing facility in Corbin as well as a sister facility in Williamsburg. Keeneland has been in talks with the City of Corbin for several years with different visions for the racetrack from Thunder Gap for quarter horse racing in 2015 to Cumberland Run that was a partnership between Keeneland and Churchill Downs announced in 2017. On Oct. 20, 2020, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission met and approved the license application for race dates for a Corbin facility. Now the proposed facility would be a harness racing facility. The track is planned to be located at the land purchased by Keeneland off the Corbin bypass and the related track extension in Williamsburg will be off Exit 11. By Emily Adams-Bentley Reprinted with permission of the Times-Tribune

One of New Zealand’s top harness racing drivers is one of two facing charges after failing pre-race alcohol tests at a Canterbury race meeting. Blair Orange and Bob Butt were breathalysed and found to be over the permitted limit at a meeting of the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club at Motukarara Raceway, near Christchurch, on January 24. Drivers must test under 100 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath to comply with harness racing rules. In New Zealand, the alcohol limit for motor vehicle drivers aged 20 years and over is 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath and the blood alcohol limit is 50 milligrams (mg) per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood. Read the full story at Stuff   by Martin Van Beynen

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2021. While the holiday season normally is a quiet one for harness racing, that was not the case most recently. On the evening of Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act (HISA) was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives as part of a 5,539 page omnibus spending bill. President Trump signed the bill into law several days later. Here's what every USTA member should know. *HISA is scheduled to go into effect no later than July 1, 2022. The Federal Trade Commission will oversee a rule-making process that eventually will establish and approve the medication control and racetrack safety programs to be enforced by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority). Letters have already gone out to Thoroughbred stakeholders asking recipients to suggest nominees for the Authority's board of directors. *The entity will be costly to the industry, but that price has yet to be determined. The new law stipulates that the Authority initially will be funded by loans taken out to fund its expenses, which will then be repaid by fees assessed to the state racing commissions. It is widely believed that a per-start surcharge will be implemented. *The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is identified within the new law as the medication control enforcement body that will be the foundation of the Authority. *The new law does not specifically mention harness racing, and, indeed, some proponents of the legislation frequently questioned why the USTA was opposing a measure that did not include Standardbreds. However, the law contains an opt-in provision for each state racing commission to elect to have additional breeds covered by the law, and the financial implications for state racing commissions, as expressed clearly in a September press release from the Association of Racing Commissioners International (https://www.arci.com/2020/09/federal-bill-may-incentivize-states-to-defund-anti-doping-and-medication-rule-enforcement/), are such that many commissions will have no choice except to bring Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing into the federal fold. *The new law effectively removes medication control from the state racing commissions. The commissions will continue to perform all other traditional functions, including licensing and general oversight. State racing licenses will still be required for participants, and it is likely that a national license also will be required for owners, trainers, etc. *The new law specifies that all race day medication, including Lasix, is to be phased out and ultimately prohibited. It does allow for a Lasix study to be performed, but for any changes to be implemented, the entire nine-person board of directors must unanimously agree that the following conditions are met: 1. That the modification is warranted. 2. That the modification is in the best interests of horse racing. 3. That furosemide has no performance enhancing effect on individual horses. 4. That public confidence in the integrity and safety of horse racing would not be adversely affected by the modification. Given that all four conditions are subjective, rather than objective, and that all nine handpicked board members, rather than a majority, must be in agreement in order for the policy to be changed, it's probably safe to say that Lasix will be off the table in any harness racing jurisdiction that opts into the Authority. *In addition to medication control, use of the whip/crop also would be regulated by the Authority as it is considered a racetrack safety issue. Other matters under the racetrack safety umbrella likely will include track surface composition and conditioning, in addition to pre-race examination and testing. There remains a long road ahead as the enactment of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is contemplated. The USTA, under advisement from its attorneys, remains convinced that the new law is unconstitutional, and has grave concerns about its potential impact upon the harness racing industry. The Association continues to evaluate this issue and explore its options. Further developments will be reported as they occur. Dan Leary Director of Marketing and Communications

Former AFL player Lewis Jetta and his family were allegedly subjected to racial abuse at a New Year’s Eve harness racing event at Perth’s Gloucester Park racecourse. A Perth woman, who claimed to be sitting next to the Jetta family to ring in 2021, told 6PR radio on Monday that she was witness to the “disgraceful” and “horrible” verbal abuse at the function. “The way that they were treated was disgraceful. He was abused for his football, abused for being an Aboriginal,” Dee, who did not reveal her last name, said. “It was constant. Some horrible, horrible words. “The way they were harassed and verbally harassed for their race... it sickens me “We were there from 5.30pm until midnight and he just had it 24/7. “At the end of the night we even came up to him and his family and said how we were so proud of all of them and how sorry we were to watch it. “We have a 14-year-old and he said, ‘I’m going to become an ambassador’ to show that racism is not the right way to go. We are just the same no matter what colour our skins are. “This is why I’m speaking up today, for them.” Former AFL player Lewis Jetta and his family were allegedly racially abused at a New Year’s Eve event at Perth’s Gloucester Park racecourse. Credit: Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/via AFL Photos Gloucester Park chief executive Michael Radley told The West Australian no official complaints had been made from the event — which host about 4500 revellers. Mr Radley said he wished witnesses had reported the alleged incident to security and staff on the night so it could have been dealt with at the time. “We could have acted. We would have ejected the people and taken names,” he said. “It’s terrible. We don’t put up with that. It’s normally a family friendly venue. “If we had known we certainly would have acted. We would have liked to have known on the night, rather than Monday morning.” Mr Radley said it was otherwise a good family-friendly event, with pop-up bars and food venues, harness racing and a fireworks display, The West Coast Eagles confirmed last November that 31-year-old Jetta had not been offered a contract for 2021 season. He has since signed with WAFL club Swan Districts — a homecoming of sorts after wearing the black and white in their Colts side that claimed a 2007 Premiership win. Jetta had struggled for regular senior appearances in 2020, featuring just six times at AFL level. The Bunbury product finished up on 202 games, the last 75 as an Eagle after starting his career at Sydney. In his time at the Eagles, Jetta became a pivotal player across half back. He featured in the Swans’ 2012 flag triumph as well as West Coast’s premiership win in 2018. Jetta and his partner Jess Miller have a 10-year-old son Lewis Jnr and a seven-year-old daughter Daisy. Jetta has been contacted for comment. By Caitlyn Rintoul Reprinted with permission of Perth Now

Columbus, OH – Following is a response from USTA harness racing President Russell Williams on statement made Monday (Dec. 28) by the Meadowlands supporting the recently passed Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act: “Mr. Gural’s central message seems to be that he would like to see harness racing brought within the jurisdiction of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and that ‘we can modify the law next year to meet our needs, which are considerably different than the Thoroughbreds’ so that we can ‘live with’ HISA. “HISA supporters refused to countenance the slightest modification during more than three years of USTA effort to get something that we could live with. There is no reason to think that next year would be any different. “HISA is unconstitutional and is very unlikely to withstand the legal challenges that will be forthcoming if an attempt is made to apply it to harness racing.” from the USTA Communications Department   Following is the Meadowlands’ statement supporting the HISA: East Rutherford, NJ — The Meadowlands supports the inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) in the 2020 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The Omnibus passed through both houses of Congress last week and was signed into law by President Trump on Sunday. “The HISA is important to all of horse racing to demonstrate that we are addressing the problems that have plagued the sport for the last several decades. It is clear the past and current policies do not work,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. “Virtually all the horsemen that I have asked support trying to eliminate trainers that drug the horses. Having the Federal government involved will put some teeth into the effort to stop them as the indictments and subsequent arrests of last March showed. “It seems inconceivable that in 2022 every Thoroughbred racetrack will have uniform rules and be governed by this legislation while every Standardbred racetrack will continue to be governed by the states despite the fact that 27 of the 29 people indicted earlier this year were associated with Standardbred racing and only two were Thoroughbred trainers. “Hopefully we can work with the USTA to modify the law next year to meet our needs which are considerably different than the Thoroughbreds. If the USTA continues to oppose the legislation it would be our intention to ask the Racing Commissions in New York and New Jersey to allow us to opt in to the legislation since it does provide that option. “I remain confident that the majority of the issues that concern the Standardbred industry can be addressed and adjusted to where we can live with them.” Details on the HISA and its passage are available by visiting the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) website and consider joining that organization while you’re on the site. It is free to join. The Water Hay Oats Alliance is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.

Distinguished sports administrator Sean Carroll has been appointed as the next Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner, replacing Sal Perna who is stepping down from the role after more than 10 years of service. Minister for Racing Martin Pakula today confirmed Mr Carroll’s appointment, which will take effect on 1 March 2021. The Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner was established in 2010 to provide independent oversight of integrity-related matters across the Victorian thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing codes, including controlling bodies Racing Victoria, Harness Racing Victoria and Greyhound Racing Victoria. Mr Carroll is the current Head of Integrity and Security at Cricket Australia and was responsible for developing and implementing an extensive integrity framework for that sport. He has represented Cricket Australia on national and government boards and working groups including the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports and the National Sports Integrity Unit Working Group. Mr Carroll was a senior police officer and AFL Tribunal advocate for nearly 20 years and is a current member of the Australian Sports Museum Advisory Panel. More information on the Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner is available at racingintegrity.vic.gov.au. As stated by Minister for Racing Martin Pakula “Victoria is the home of Australian racing and the work of the Racing Integrity Commissioner is vital to ensuring we maintain that reputation.” “I’m thrilled that Sean Carroll has accepted the position and know that he will do a great job, just as Sal Perna has done for more than a decade.” As stated by incoming Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner Sean Carroll “I’m proud to have been selected for this important position, and look forward to using my skills and experience to ensure the ongoing integrity of the Victorian racing industry”.

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands supports the inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) in the 2020 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.   The Omnibus passed through both houses of Congress last week and was signed into law by President Trump on Sunday. "The HISA is important to all of horse racing to demonstrate that we are addressing the problems that have plagued the sport for the last several decades. It is clear the past and current policies do not work.   "Virtually all the horsemen that I have asked support trying to eliminate trainers that drug the horses. Having the Federal government involved will put some teeth into the effort to stop them as the indictments and subsequent arrests of last March showed.   "It seems inconceivable that in 2022 every thoroughbred racetrack will have uniform rules and be governed by this legislation while every standardbred racetrack will continue to be governed by the states despite the fact that 27 of the 29 people indicted earlier this year were associated with standardbred racing and only two were thoroughbred trainers.   "Hopefully we can work with the USTA to modify the law next year to meet our needs which are considerably different than the thoroughbreds. If the USTA continues to oppose the legislation it would be our intention to ask the Racing Commissions in New York and New Jersey to allow us to opt in to the legislation since it does provide that option.   "I remain confident that the majority of the issues that concern the Standardbred industry can be addressed and adjusted to where we can live with them," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. Details on the HISA and its passage are available by visiting the "WHOA" website and consider joining that organization while you're on the site. It is free to join. The Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) is a grassroots movement of like- minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.    

Columbus, OH – Following is the statement from the harness racing USTA President Russell Williams regarding the inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in the year-end omnibus bill and the passage of that legislation: “Inclusion of the HISA bill in the year-end omnibus legislation was not a surprise, and we have been working on the assumption that it would pass ever since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell first made it public,” said Williams.  “A new Congress, the 117th, convenes next month. It will provide opportunities to remedy many official errors that were made in 2020, including HISA.” USTA Communications Department

View Fines and Suspensions for the week of December 18, 2020 as reported to the USTA by harness racing commissions in the United States. This bulletin reports actions that have been taken by the USTA and rulings as submitted by the various racing commissions in an abbreviated form; we are not responsible for the accuracy or timeliness of such information. For full ruling text, or if you have questions or concerns about the information found in this report, please contact the racing commission where the ruling was issued. All reported rulings, current and past, may be found by using Pathway, the USTA’s official database. Although there is no charge for this information, a USTA account is required. For a list of archived bulletins, click here. Looking for Canadian Rulings? View rulings posted at Standardbred Canada. This information is collected and posted by Standardbred Canada. The USTA assumes no liability for errors or omission. Michele Kopiec, USTA Racetrack Operations & Licensing Manager

Harness racing trainer Rene Allard has been included in a superseding indictment filed in federal court last week against Louis Grass, Donato Poliseno, Thomas Guido III, and Richard Banca. All defendants have entered not guilty pleas to one count each of drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy for their role in what prosecutors say was a scheme to “manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated ad misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants' control.” The allegations in the Dec. 3 indictment are nearly identical to those in the indictment filed against Grasso, Poliseno, Guido and Banca in February and March of this year. The timing of the indictments and arrests earlier in the year coincides with a larger case also from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York into alleged doping schemes utilized by Thoroughbred trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis. At that time, a complaint was filed against Allard but prosecutors requested several extensions of time in the case throughout the spring and summer. The complaint details Allard's involvement in the alleged scheme with his co-defendants, as recounted by FBI special agent Bruce Turpin. To read the full article by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click on this link.  

The career of a rising harness racing trainer has come to a sudden halt amid allegations of serious misconduct. Mitchell Kerr – who already has 87 wins to his credit and has won nearly $900,000 in stake money in his three-year training career – handed in his training licence to Harness Racing New Zealand last Saturday. At the same time, the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) has received a raft of allegations about the 28-year-old's conduct as a trainer. Stuff understands the RIU is investigating and has also passed information to police. The police and the RIU declined to comment this week when asked about the case. A source described the allegations as serious. Kerr’s father Paul, a veteran licensed trainer based in Ohoka, North Canterbury, said the RIU had not put any of the allegations to his son, and he had not heard from police either. “I don’t have any respect for the Racing Integrity Unit whatsoever,” he said. “They have been hounding people for the last three years.” Paul Kerr said his son had “one or two personal issues going on” unconnected to the accusations. Mitchell was aware of the allegations, he said. “Until they are substantiated they are just rumour mongering. Things are only just coming out of the woodwork and there is nothing to say they are true.” Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) confirmed Mitchell Kerr had relinquished his licence and said it was not aware of any investigation by the RIU. “If there is a breach of the rules of racing then HRNZ will act appropriately.” Horses stabled at the Mitchell Kerr Racing Stables in Rangiora have been removed to his father’s property in Ohoka. Paul Kerr said not a single owner had removed their horse from his son’s supervision and none had complained about his son. Mitchell Kerr’s last win was at the Kaikōura races earlier this month when William Wallace, which is part owned by All Black Anton Lienert-Brown, won the PGG Sales Series Classic. The allegations are the last thing the harness racing industry needs in its rebuilding phase after a police investigation into race fixing followed by charges against various industry figures in 2018. Canterbury trainer Nigel McGrath was disqualified for eight years in July for attempted doping and not co-operating with racecourse inspectors. An industry figure, who asked not to be named, said Kerr’s troubles were a major talking point in an industry known for its rumour mill. “[About] 99.9 per cent of us are working our guts out for little reward and a few people put the sport in a bad light.” Kerr has worked for his father, and for trainers Robert Dunn, at Woodend Beach, and Gareth Dixon in Auckland. He went out on his own in 2017 after securing 10 boxes and a barn at Rangiora Raceway and developed the outside yards and paddocks. By Martin Van Beynen Reprinted with permission of Stuff

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