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Opinion piece - In late March, just days after first denying she was going to force the country into lock down a lugubrious looking Jacinda Ardern waved around the “flatten the curve” graphic and told us that if covid-19 was unchecked “our health system will be inundated and thousands of New Zealanders will die" and that consequently New Zealanders now needed to sacrifice fundamental civil liberties and their livelihoods to “save lives.”   There are two critical observations from that press conference.   First, it is now increasingly clear that Ardern misled the country with the claims that tens of thousands of deaths. In an excellent and courageous piece of research (read it here) economist Ian Harrison (who has worked for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements and specialises in risk modelling) demolished the fundamental research on which the government relied for compelling the country into lock down.   No doubt the Ardern government will first dissemble, distract and deny this fact. If that doesn’t satisfy the usually quiescent media expect to see the University of Otago Covid-19 Research Group go under the bus as the government claims it simply “relied on the advice it was given.”   Except this is either a bald-faced lie or chronically incompetent. Let’s be charitable and assume it’s the later: Ardern’s incompetence stems from that fact that no one, anywhere, in any position of authority, ever should take a decision of that magnitude without double and triple checking the facts on which you are relying. Ardern didn’t. If one-man band economist Harrison can figure this out why couldn’t the government’s army of advisors?   Nevertheless, emboldened by a public terrified by hysterical, wall to wall reporting from the legacy media, the government doubled down and so we found ourselves locked into lock down, with all its unintended consequences. Consequences which will be severe, long lasting and almost certain to do more damage than Covid-19 will or could.   Which brings us to the second point from that infamous press conference. The lock down we were told was all about “flattening the curve”, to stop our health system from being “swamped.” But then a funny thing happened: the health system (like those offshore here and here and here) didn’t end up getting overwhelmed at all.   So, like slaves chiselling a pretender pharaoh’s name from the pyramids the flatten curve graphics were quietly removed from the press conferences and in the legacy media. They were replaced with a new message – this time “elimination.”  The Prime Minister stated: "We will step down to level 3 in a way that is consistent with our goal to eliminate Covid-19 in New Zealand.”    To be fair to Ardern you could justify the change in course if it was going to work, no one should expected to pursue a strategy that is clearly flawed solely for political expediency (except of course she has before – see here)   The problem of course is that this new strategy is a), as hopelessly flawed in its empirical justifications as the original strategy, and b) worse, even if succeeds it will cripple New Zealand for years to come.   First, elimination means just that, elimination, and no one outside New Zealand is taking that possibility seriously. Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, told a New Zealand parliamentary committee April 14 that eradicating the virus is a “nirvana” scenario. The reasons the elimination strategy is extremely unlikely to be successful are surprisingly simple:   The R0 value of the corona virus is high and its spreads asymptomatically, so in short it spreads extremely easily, making containment with anything short of a lock down impossible. Upwards of 80% of those who contract the virus have no symptoms (ie never feel sick at all) which makes tracking the virus extremely difficult unless you implement mass population testing and contact tracing at a level far beyond New Zealand’s capacity (our contract tracing system has been described as a dinosaur).   The tests the government plans to rely on to identify Covid-19 are well known to generate both false negatives and false positives. It is estimated the number of unidentified cases is between 8 and 10 times the real figures, meaning New Zealand is likely to have tens of thousands of people carrying Covid19 with no symptoms.  In short it is almost inconceivable that New Zealand can eliminate Covid19 without maintaining a permanent lock down. Which begs the question: if weren’t flattening the curve and we can’t eliminate it why did we go into an economy crippling, poverty inducing, long term public health damaging lock down?   But, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that somehow New Zealand achieves the impossible and we do eliminate Covid19 – what then? What happens when the dog chasing the car actually catches the car?   The rest of the world will still have Covid19. As mentioned, no one, anywhere else in the world is even considering this strategy. New Zealand will become a de facto prison for its 4.9M “citizens.”   Large scale in-bound travel to New Zealand will be effectively eliminated, and with it the tourism sector, our largest export earner, contributing $45 billion to GDP annually. Without offshore tourism Air New Zealand will become a domestic only airline, so expect few flights to or from our fair shores (great news if you are a hard-green environmentalist, curtains for tens of thousands of employees).   With few onshore flights the opportunities for New Zealanders to travel offshore will become few and expensive – say goodbye to that holiday in Europe or 2 weeks in Fiji and look forward to 2 weeks quarantine when you return home. It’s also very difficult to grow an international business entirely through Zoom so expect the slow but steady strangulation of New Zealand’s export orientated businesses. Likewise expect prices of imports to surge and with the virtual elimination of immigration and a collapsing economy, walled off East Germany-like from the rest of the world, property prices to fall.   And all this assumes that there are no slip ups. But as Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital who advises the Australian government on Covid19 states: “the reality is this virus is everywhere, it’s all around the world. So even if you’re successful for a short period of time, how long do you do this for? Six months? Two years? Invariably, you’re going to get the virus re-introduced.” As Steven Joyce succinctly put it the “idea that we would get rid of Covid-19 is pie in the sky fantasy”   Proponents of the elimination strategy argue that “Colditz New Zealand” won’t be needed for more than 18 months and all we have to do is wait for a vaccine. However, there is no guarantee we will get a vaccine. As David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College, London, and an envoy for the World Health Organisation on Covid-19 states: “You don’t necessarily develop a vaccine that is safe and effective against every virus. Some viruses are very, very difficult when it comes to vaccine development - so for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.”   Neither will anti-body testing be anymore effective, with even the World Health Organisation warning that “there is no evidence that people who have recovered from coronavirus have immunity to the disease [and] there is no proof that such antibody tests can show if someone who has been infected with COVID-19 cannot be infected again.”   In short, there is a very, very real risk that the cavalry is not coming for New Zealand. We could be trapped here for a very long time – like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings – “we cannot get out.”   Finally, we need to consider even if an effective vaccine was developed just how high up the priority list is New Zealand really going to be? If you are handing out vaccines do you prioritise the 5M people at the bottom of the world who are at no immediate risk or other 7.5 billion who are? The US and China are already hoarding and interdicting Personal Protection Equipment – what makes us think a vaccine will be different?   In short, the government’s whole Covid-19 “strategy” from start to finish has been flawed. It was based on flawed modelling and amplified by hysterical media reporting. And now New Zealand’s plan to “eliminate” the virus looks more like a bullet wound to the stomach, the result of which will be long, painful and lonely death. If you enjoyed this article please share across on FaceBook, Twitter etc. These articles take a long time to research and your support in getting the message out there is greatly appreciated.   Both the NZ Herald and Stuff originally indicated they would publish my Covid-19 articles but then pulled the pin at the last moment, I suspect (with good reason) under political pressure. The Emperor's Robes - The Observations of Alex Davis

Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural is an extremely successful — and wealthy — real estate mogul who, now in his late 70s, is very comfortable with revealing his state of mind. And when it comes to horse racing, Gural on numerous occasions has been quite straightforward about the daunting challenges ahead as his track struggles to survive. It’s no easy task, when competing with racetracks in New York and Pennsylvania that receive hundreds of millions of dollars in annual subsidies from slot machine revenues from those tracks. So when Gural told njonlinegambling.com on Wednesday his very optimistic sentiments about the recent horse racing doping scandal, it’s particularly worth noting. More than two dozen industry figures were swept up in indictments March 9 after a federal investigation uncovered evidence of the alleged scheme that crossed both the standardbred and thoroughbred industries. For the past decade, Gural has been banning trainers that he had come to believe were cheating, often taking public criticism from those horsemen and also others interested in the industry over his “playing sheriff” without incontrovertible proof. Now Gural says he feels “100%” vindicated, particularly given that some of the trainers he had banned were named in the indictment. Wire taps worked “We cannot just rely on drug testing, as we have been doing, because it doesn’t work,” Gural said. “Having a federal investigation, with the use of wire taps — that’s the way to go to catch them. I really believe that from now on, no one will be using these illegal drugs because it’s too risky. “We accomplished something by getting rid of the bad guys. It will be interesting, once we get back to racing, if certain trainers are still racing — and how they perform,” Gural added. The fact of the investigation did not surprise Gural, because he and The Jockey Club for the past four years have paid the 5 Stones investigative firm to look into such allegations. “We were very much aware of the FBI investigating, but I didn’t personally know who they were investigating. I had to read the names when the indictments came out,” Gural said. “I feel like we really accomplished something, and I understand there could be more arrests coming. And some might find it in their interest to cooperate.” The timing of the March 9 indictments was unusual. The COVID-19 pandemic already had begun to dominate the news cycle, and two days later the NBA suspended its regular season after a player tested positive for the virus. That swept the doping scandal off the front pages and virtual front pages in the U.S. and in numerous countries where horse racing remains quite popular. Mixed feelings on indictments timing “Part of me is glad that the sport didn’t get as much of a black eye,” Gural said. “But if not for all this about the virus, people would be demanding we make changes right away. “My concern is that this all shows we must turn oversight over to the federal government. It’s not fair that I should have to pay for this [initial investigation]. “We can’t have 30 different states trying to catch these trainers — we need a law passed in Congress,” Gural added. The Jockey Club, as well as Gural, supports the Horseracing Integrity Act pending in Congress, which calls for a single anti-doping authority to oversee rules of testing of medications that might give particular trainers and their horses an unfair advantage — an edge that could even prove fatal for those horses at times. Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin, whose track’s seven-time defending champion trainer was swept up in the indictments, has called for even more sweeping reforms in light of the indictments. Meadowlands — back to business? The worldwide pandemic has shuttered the Meadowlands Racetrack, a mecca for harness racing since it opened in 1976, for more than three weeks. Gural said his employees have had to be furloughed, although he said he is still paying for their health insurance. “Maybe hurting the most are the trainers and grooms, who have no income,” Gural said. “And nobody knows what to do with their horses. Maybe we can get back to racing soon, even if it’s without any customers.” Aqueduct Raceway in Queens tried the latter approach last month, only to shut down after a backstretch worker who lives at Belmont Park and worked at Aqueduct tested positive for the virus. Gural said that the Meadowlands is helped by the fact that horses have not stabled at his East Rutherford track for a number of years. “We have a plan for how to practice social distancing of employees, we can check the temperature of everyone who comes in, and so forth,” Gural said. Asked if that could mean a return to live racing in mere weeks, not months, Gural said, “I hope so. People are definitely looking for something to bet on.” By John Brennan Reprinted with permission of New Jersey Online Gambling

MANALAPAN, NJ -- April 3, 2020 -- First and foremost the SBOANJ hope's this communication finds you and your family safe and healthy. These are very scary and confusing times that we are currently living in but we want you to know that we are trying to supply you with up-to-date information as soon as it becomes available. There are currently two SBA programs that we feel are important to our members and you should consider applying for within the next few days. The first one is The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - for an explanation and overview https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp Small business and sole proprietorship - Accepting applications as of Friday, April 3, 2020. Click here for the application https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Application-3-30-2020-v3.pdf Independent contractors and self-employed individuals - Accepting applications as of Friday, April 10, 2020 * Up to $10 million * Up to 8 weeks of payroll (2.5x monthly) * Employee Benefits * State and Local taxes on compensation * No Personal Guarantees * Loan maybe forgiven * PPP Fact Sheet - https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--Fact-Sheet.pdf The second one is the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) - https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications * Applications Link - https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/ * Directly through the SBA * Up to $2 million * CARES Act also includes up to $10,000 immediate grant * Use for Working capital * Requires personal Guarantee In addition, the Federal Assistance programs individual state programs have been established. These additional stimulus programs fall under State Economic Development Grants. The scope of businesses covered by these programs is limited so they will not apply to all businesses. https://www.withum.com/resources/state-economic-development-grants/ Our recommendation: Call your banker about PPP today and see if they process SBA loans. If so complete the application and submit it immediately. Some banks are not registered to handle SBA loans but contact us and we can help direct you to one that does. Apply for EIDL today - It is easy takes 10 minutes. You can decide whether you want the funding based upon terms and amounts. Stay safe and healthy, SBOANJ ........................................................... The SBOANJ would like to remind our members that our staff is continuing to work diligently during these difficult times. Recent state and federal assistance programs that have become available are currently listed on our website. We will continue to locate and post the latest information regarding these programs as it becomes available. The SBOANJ office remains open for regular hours during the week but is closed to visitors. Our staff has been working to make sure all businesses, including insurance claims, continue to be handled in a timely manner. Please continue to mail or deposit any payments or paperwork in the drop box located at the office front door. At this time we are all aware of the statewide stay-at-home order given by the governor, the order states that he will evaluate the Coronavirus outbreak mid-April. This means that racing will not resume until he lifts the stay-at-home order. That being said the SBOANJ, the NJ Racing Commission, other state officials, and the racetracks are working on a proposal to return to racing. With the implementation of screening programs at the training centers and racetracks and practicing safe distancing guidelines, we hope to persuade the governor to allow us to get back to racing as soon as possible. This plan would require coordinated efforts at multiple levels, especially the horsemen, but the final decision will rest with the governor. We will continue to update our members with the most important information we have. We urge you to continue to visit our website, sboanj.com, for pertinent information when it becomes available. Courtney Stafford PR Consultant SBOANJ

Louisville, KY. April 2nd, 2020 – Sky Racing World, the Louisville, Kentucky-based distributor of international horse-racing content and subsidiary of Australian wagering operator Tabcorp, has announced the launch of a new simulcasting product that will make Japan National Association of Racing (NAR) horse racing available to North American audiences. The service will officially launch on Sunday night,  April 5th, with races from Tokyo City Keiba, Oi Racecourse. The Japan National Association of Racing is Sky Racing World’s exclusive partner in distributing the weekly simulcasts every Sunday through Thursday night. At commencement, racing will be offered from three tracks: Tokyo City Keiba, Funabashi and Kawasaki, with Sunday night’s first post at 1:30am ET (i.e. early Monday morning). All tracks and races will be conducted on a dirt surface. Audiences will now be afforded access to an additional range of quality Japanese racing events, including the Tokyo Sprint (Listed) on opening night and the Gr1 Japan Dirt Derby (1m 1/8) from Tokyo City Keiba on July 7th. A familiar range of betting types will be available, including: Win, Place, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Pick 3, and Pick 4. The Japanese offering is the latest addition to Sky Racing World’s extensive catalogue of thoroughbred simulcasting, which includes racing from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Korea and Singapore. By expanding their product and further complementing US-based offerings, the distributor continues to cement its status as a leading provider of world-class horse racing. Races are available to live-stream and wager at all ADW platforms and skyracingworld.com. Fans can also get free access to past performances at skyracingworld.com. About David Haslett A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South Korean thoroughbred racing and Australian Harness racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks. Reprinted with permission of Calvin Ayre

Trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis entered pleas of not guilty to federal charges of involvement in a misbranding conspiracy during an April 2 teleconference arraignment before United States District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. Navarro and Servis are among 19 defendants in United States vs. Jorge Navarro, et al., who face misbranding charges stemming from the March 9 indictments of the two trainers and 25 others in four separate cases of conspiracies to manufacture, distribute, and administer adulterated or misbranded performance-enhancing drugs that were administered to racehorses. All 19 of the defendants entered a plea of not guilty in a case presented by the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York. Navarro and Ross Cohen, a former harness racing trainer, were the only defendants who participated in the call. The rest were represented by their attorney. Navarro said little more than "not guilty" during the arraignment. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Adams said during the arraignment that the evidence collected by the government was voluminous, with much of it from wiretaps, leading to projections of a discovery period that could last for about six months. That would likely push the start of the trial into 2021. In describing the case, Adams said it was a case that has "focused on doping and the use of performance-enhancing drugs to win professional horse races in the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries. It has involved a number of different forms information-collecting that would include in-person meetings and covertly recorded meetings by confidential sources. It cites a number of wiretaps over a series of phones and in a total span of one year of time." The federal prosecutor assigned to the case added that there were search warrants for a place "where a horse under Mr. Servis' control was located, and at a bar, and what the government will describe as a small pharmacy controlled by (defendant Christopher Oakes)." He also said there were warrants and searches of several cell phones, bank records, and "the fruits of grand jury investigations." Adams said that roughly 17 of the 19 defendants had at least one cell phone seized by the government and computers were also taken for evidence. He said the investigation is still going on and there could be additional indictments pending the information gleaned from records and documents still coming into the government. Attorney Robert Baum, counsel for defendant Alexander Chan, spoke on behalf of a consortium of the defendants' attorneys, saying wire taps involved seven defendants and there are "tens of thousands" of conversations. He added that motions being contemplated will be "extremely lengthy, complex and extensive. We are talking about motions involving the wire taps, search warrants, statements, the seizure of physical evidence. There may be motions attacking the government's intent to resent scientific evidence." During the proceedings, which were conducted by teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Vyskocil ordered the government and counsel for all of the defendants to submit a revised bail agreement to her by April 6. The indictment claims Navarro "executed this scheme by using PEDs designed to evade drug tests, physically concealing containers of PEDs and drug paraphernalia from state regulators and racing officials, administering and directing others to covertly administer PEDs, and shipping certain products designed to mask the presence of PEDs through a straw purchaser." It also charged that Servis "orchestrated a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering adulterated and misbranded PEDs, including a PED called SGF-1000, to virtually all of the racehorses under his control." Navarro is a seven-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park and the leader at the 2018-19 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park, while Servis is best known for training the 2019 3-year-old champion male, Maximum Security, who won the $20 million Saudi Cup Feb. 29 and was disqualified from first to 17th for a racetrack foul in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). On the indictment, the defendants are listed in order as Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Gregory Skelton, Cohen, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., Oakes, Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley Jr., Chan, Henry Argueta, Nicholas Surick, Rebecca Linke and Christopher Marino. By Bob Ehalt Reprinted with permission of the Bloodhorse

Columbus, OH — According to a story on The Paulick Report, several of the defendants in a federal case focusing on drug misbranding and the doping of racehorses will be arraigned via teleconference later this week. The defendants scheduled to be arraigned include Jorge Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Gregory Skelton, Ross Cohen, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., Christopher Oakes, Jason Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley Jr., Alexander Chan, Henry Argueta, Nicholas Surick, Rebecca Linke, and Christopher Marino. The teleconference is scheduled for April 2 at 2:30 p.m. To read the full story, click here. The USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH - To assist harness racing horsemen during the current circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Trotting Association has created a resource center of valuable information for industry participants. Contents COVID-19 Information and Facts President’s COVID-19 Guidelines Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) – Coronavirus Resource Page United Horse Coalition – Coronavirus Resource Page Federal Government Information Internal Revenue Service Small Business Administration (SBA) – Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EID Loans) Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – Keep America Connected – Phone and Internet Service State Government Information (alphabetical by state) Horsemen’s Association Information (alphabetical by state)   COVID-19 Information and Facts Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) –   https://www.cdc.gov/ President’s COVID-19 Guidelines – www.coronavirus.gov Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) – Coronavirus Resource Page The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) published a Coronavirus resource page on its website featuring items to help horse owners navigate this disease pandemic.  http://equinediseasecc.org/coronavirus-resources United Horse Coalition – Coronavirus Resource Page The UHC website has a dedicated tab for COVID-19 information including: COVID-19 Info for Humans and Horses; Safety Net Programs for Owners; Biosecurity and Disinfecting Protocols; Financial Relief Options; and Planning for Horse Care. In addition, there is a State Specific Resources Page that includes: 1) Unemployment Information and 2) State Specific COVID-19 Information for each individual state. https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#toggle-id-56 https://www.npr.org/2020/03/26/821457551/whats-inside-the-senate-s-2-trillion-coronavirus-aid-package   Federal Government Information National Public Radio’s (NPR) summary of federal legislation (media) – https://www.npr.org/2020/03/26/821457551/whats-inside-the-senate-s-2-trillion-coronavirus-aid-package Text of Senate Bill – S3548 – https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3548/text (hundreds of pages)   Summary of the 3 Phases of COVID-19 Legislation (Prepared by USTA Lobbyists – The Ingram Group) Congressional leaders reached a deal to pass a nearly $2 trillion “stimulus” package. This legislation represents “Phase 3” of the legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, is an outline all three pieces of legislation starting with the most recent, being Phase 3. Many of these provisions may be of interest to you or your individual affiliate members which are small businesses. There is already talk of a “Phase 4” bill but it is likely several weeks away. It is highly recommended that you should check with your accounting professional for tax provisions. The “Phase 3”- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) Phase 3, the CARES Act, will inject approximately $2T into the economy, providing tax rebates, expanded unemployment benefits, and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at providing direct relief for individuals, families, and businesses. Title 1: Small business interruption loans Provides 8 weeks of 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payrolls, the portion of the loan used to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. To qualify businesses must employee 500 people or fewer or meet the applicable Small Business Administration (SBA) size standard for the industry. Also, most self-employed individuals and nonprofits qualify. The loan is capped at the lower of 250% of the employer’s average monthly payroll or $10 million. The link is https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance. Authorizes $25 million for SBA to provide grants to associations representing resource partners to establish an online platform that consolidates resources across multiple Federal agencies and a training program to educate small business counselors on those resources to ensure counselors are directing small businesses appropriately. Expands eligibility for entities suffering economic harm due to COVID-19 to access SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), while also giving SBA more flexibility to process and disperse small dollar loans. The bill would allow businesses that apply for an EIDL expedited access to capital through an Emergency Grant—an advance of $10,000 within three days to maintain payroll, provide paid sick leave, and to service other debt obligations. Title 2: Unemployment Insurance Provisions: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a Fact Sheet for employers as well as a model notice employers may use to notify employees about these laws. The DOL is expected to issue regulations in April 2020. Individual Provisions:    Recovery Checks: $1,200 to individual Americans making less than $75,000 annually, and $2,400 for eligible married couples making less than $150,000 combined, with an additional $500 for every child. The amount would be reduced by $5 for every $100 that a person earns over $75,000, so Americans earning more than $99,000 will get nothing. Income levels, marital status, and number of children would be based on 2019 tax returns, if filed, or their 2018 return as an alternative.      Special rules for use of retirement funds: Allows the withdrawal of $100,000 from retirement accounts to pay for coronavirus-related purposes without the 10% early withdrawal penalty.    Tax Filing Deadline Delay/ Extension: The April 15 deadline for filing federal income tax returns and making payments is extended to July 15, 2020.    Charitable contributions: Corporations may deduct up to 25% of taxable income for charitable contributions in 2020, and there is no cap on individuals.    Student Loans: President Trump has suspended federally-held student loan payments for 60 days with no penalty. Employers can provide student loan repayment benefits to employees on a tax-free basis, up to $5,250. Business Provisions: Employee retention credit for employers: Employers subject to closure or partially suspended operations can qualify for a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid   to employees from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020. To qualify, a business must have been partially or fully suspended due to a local COVID-19 shut-down order or have had gross receipts decline by more than 50% from the same quarter last year. The credit is capped at $10,000 per employee, including health benefits. For employers with fewer than 100 employees, all employees count toward the credit, but for employers with more than 100 employees, only those not working because of the COVID-19 crisis count. Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes: Payroll taxes may be deferred with half due by December 31, 2021 and the other half due by December 31, 2022. Modifications for net operating losses (NOLs): NOLs for the last three years can be carried back five years on amended prior years’ tax returns. Pass-through entities may also take advantage of this provision. Modification of limitation on business interest: Changes the amount businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns from 30% to 50% for 2019 and 2020. Qualified improvement property: Allows businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, to immediately write off the cost of improving a facility instead of having to depreciate it over the 39-year life of the building. “Phase 2”- H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Among its many provisions, this $104 billion bill guarantees free coronavirus testing, provides emergency paid leave, and strengthens food security initiatives across a broad range of additional investments, including ensuring that children who depend on free and reduced-priced meals have access to food during school and childcare closures. H.R. 6201 also provides businesses with tax credits for qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees.   Paid Sick Leave Emergency paid leave requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to give 14 days off (two weeks) at the employee’s regular pay if employee gets COVID-19, is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine related to COVID-19, or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine to due COVID-19 concerns. The amount of paid sick leave per employee is limited to $511 per day and $5,110 total. The Act also requires employers to provide employees with 14 days off at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay to care for someone in quarantine or care for a child whose school is closed because of coronavirus precautions. Paid Family Leave Employees qualify for paid family leave if they are unable to work due to a need to care for a child whose school or place of care has closed because of a “public health emergency.” The first ten days of family leave may be unpaid, but after the first ten days, employers must provide employees with no less than two-thirds of an individual’s average monthly earnings for at least 30 days with 12 weeks of job-protected leave. Exemptions and Tax Credits There are exemptions for employers of 50 or fewer. Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of qualified sick leave wages paid each calendar quarter to cover the costs. H.R. 6201 also provides for refundable tax credits against the self-employment tax. “Phase 1”- H.R.6074, the Coronavirus Supplemental This first bill provided the initial $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.  H.R. 6074 was signed by POTUS and became law on March 6, 2020. A title-by-title summary is available here, and bill text here. —————————————————————————————————————————————- Internal Revenue Service – Treasury, IRS and Labor announced a plan to implement Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses to swiftly recover the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave . https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USIRS/bulletins/2826044?reqfrom=share U.S. Small Business Administration – Economic Injury Disaster Loans – https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Account/Register1 The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has made Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EID Loan) available for qualifying businesses that have suffered economic injury as a result of the epidemic.  Funds from an EID loan may be used by small businesses to pay fixed debts , payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The terms of an EID loan are determined by the SBA on a case-by-case basis. FCC – Keep America Connected – Phone and Internet Services Keep Americans Connected Pledge – https://www.fcc.gov/keep-americans-connected In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC has announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity. So far, more than 550 companies and associations have signed the pledge to Keep Americans Connected.  See the list on their website. The pledge: Not to terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic’ Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances pandemic; Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.   State Government Information (alphabetical by state) State – Small Business Information and Websites: Delaware – https://business.delaware.gov/coronavirus/ Indiana – https://www.nfib.com/indiana/ Florida – https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/florida-offers-loans-to-small-business-to-offset-coronavirus-impacts/2210126/ (media).  www.FloridaDisaster.BIZ – Application period ends May 8. Maryland – https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2020/03/19/coronavirus-small-business-financial-help-latest/ (media) with link to federal SBA website. Minnesota – https://www.twincities.com/2020/03/23/coronavirus-immediate-relief-available-for-small-businesses-in-minnesota/ New Jersey – https://www.njeda.com/about/Public-Information/Coronavirus-Information New York – https://esd.ny.gov/small-business-loan-resources Ohio – https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/resources-for-economic-support Pennsylvania – https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/   Rent Eviction and Utility Shutoff Information by State and Municipalities A detailed list of state and municipal, as well as federal, information on moratoriums on rent evictions and utility shutoffs. https://evictionlab.org/covid-eviction-policies/   Horsemen’s Association Information (alphabetical by state) California – California Harness Horsemen’s Association   Delaware – Delaware SOA – www.dsoaonline.com The Delaware Standardbred Owners Association, who serves Delaware horsemen and women, will utilize their website (link above), Facebook page (Delaware Standardbred Owners Association) and weekly television/internet show “Post Time” with host Heather Vitale to communicate with members.  Post Time airs on WBOC-TV on Sunday mornings at 11:30 a.m. EST.  Show archives can be found on PostTimeShow YouTube channel.   Florida – Florida SBOA Iowa – Iowa Harness Horse Association   Illinois – Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association   Indiana – Indiana Standardbred Association   Kentucky – Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Association   Maine – Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association   Massachusetts – SOA of Massachusetts   Michigan – Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association   New Jersey – SBOA of New Jersey SBOA of NJ – Employee Acquisition Assistance If you are in a position where you are shorthanded and need help during this critical time, the SBOANJ would like to help you. Please contact us at info@sboanj.com or call 732-462-2357 to let us know what type of employees you are in search of. We will gladly post positions needed on our website with any contact information you would like to give and help you get the word out.   New York –        HHA of Central New York          Saratoga Harness Horsemen’s Association   SOA of New York   Western New York HHA —————————————————————————————————————————————- Ohio – Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association OHHA Update – 3/27/20 OHHA Specific Relief: O.H.H.H.I.T. Health Plan Credits: The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance  (O.H.H.H.I.T.) Trustees as administrators of the Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance Trust would like to announce financial relief for all Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance Plan Participants. As-of the date of the first Order cancelling racing (March 20, 2020), each Self-Pay Plan Participant will automatically receive a credit for two months of health insurance plan premiums at their existing coverage level.  For example, if a horseman has paid their April premium costs for family coverage, they will receive a credit for their May and June family coverage premiums.  If the April family coverage premium has not been paid, the credit will apply to family coverage for their April and May premium costs.  There is no need to do anything to receive the credit.  It will automatically be applied to all self-pay coverage classes.  Note that if there are changes in coverage to a higher level of coverage (i.e., single to family coverage) during the credit time-period, the credit for the lower level of coverage will apply and the difference between the higher and lower premium cost will have to be paid. In addition, during this time, existing Breeding Farm Employees and Racetrack Grooms that are employed and active in the Plan, will continue to receive their premium costs covered.  Separation for or from any covered employer will be handled as-per the Plan’s rules.  The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association will provide updates regarding financial relief initiatives as they take place via www.ohha.com and social media outlets.  For immediate updates, please subscribe to the OHHA Emergency and Informational Text Blast system by texting “OHHA” to 1-888-808-1507. Government Updates: Ohio General Assembly Update • The next Senate session is scheduled for March 25 at 1:30 PM • The House has scheduled sessions for March 24, 25, 26, 31 and April 1 and 2 all at 1:00 PM • Legislation is not expected to go through the usual committee process, but rather it will be handled procedurally through the Rules committee. • UPDATE 3.25.20 the Ohio Senate and House voted to pass HB 197 with an emergency amendment to address coronavirus concerns. The summary of the amendment can be found at, https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-status?id=GA133-HB-197 As Passed Ohio H.B. 197 Overview COVID-19 Relief: 1. K-12 Education · Testing & Accountability – The bill eliminates state-mandated K-12 student assessments for the 2019-20 school year. It eliminates Ohio’s school district and school building report cards for the 2019-20 school year, prohibits ODE from assigning letter grades to buildings or districts, prohibits rankings based on report card data and creates “safe harbor” for schools and districts to ensure data from the 2019-20 school year will have no effect in determining sanctions or penalties. The proposal directs ODE to seek a waiver from federal testing requirements. · Jon Peterson Special Needs/Autism Scholarships – Allows for services to be provided to students by electronic delivery method or telehealth. This change is necessary for services to continue while schools are closed. · EdChoice Scholarship – The bill freezes the 2019-20 performance-based EdChoice building eligibility list at 517 buildings for the 2020-21 school year. The language allows siblings of current voucher students to participate. Under continuing law, the EdChoice application portal will open for 60 days beginning April 1, 2020, to process income-based EdChoice vouchers, renewals of existing performance-based vouchers, and new students attending the 517 buildings already on the list. The bill expressly prohibits expansion of the building list to 1,227 buildings. · Student Meals – For school districts that are providing meals to students who are home while schools are closed, this language gives the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture the authority to provide an exemption from “food processing” requirements so those entities can focus on providing food to children that depend on these services. · Distance Learning – For the 2019-20 school year, permits districts and schools to make up through distance learning any number of days or hours necessary due to COVID-19-related closures. They may amend an existing plan or adopt one to make up those days or hours. Current law limits make up through distance learning to not more than three days. · Teacher Evaluations and Licenses – For current teachers, the bill provides flexibility for teacher evaluations that were due to be completed during the 2019- 20 school year and removes the value-added component from the evaluation. For new teachers unable to take the final licensure test due to testing center closures, the bill provides them with a provisional teaching license for the 2020-21 school year if they have graduated from college, and have successfully completed student teaching and a background check. 2.  2020 Primary Election – The primary election in-person voting was cancelled due to the public health crisis. Ohioans that were eligible to vote on March 17, 2020, will be able to cast their ballot by mail on or before April 28, 2020. Those Ohioans that cast their ballot early will have their vote count. The Ohio Secretary of State will mail all voters a postcard informing them on how they will be able to request their ballot by mail from their local county Board of Elections. The board will send them their ballot and a postage paid return envelope. 3. Tax Year 2019 & 2020 Changes · Ohio’s tax filing deadline will be the same as the federal filing deadline, July 15 · The legislation incorporates into Ohio law recent changes to the Internal Revenue Code or other federal law taking effect after March 30, 2018. The language also assures continued compliance with the streamlined sales tax compact in respect to sales of prescription incontinence products for Medicaid recipients. · Other changes include Work From Home-related issues. As more of the workforce begins to Work from Home, questions have arisen regarding which municipal corporations may tax an employee’s income. This addresses concerns of businesses regarding the “20-day rule” in municipal income tax by not requiring employers to withhold for employees’ home municipalities for the duration of an employee working remotely, but rather to continue to withhold for the employee’s traditional workplace. Also, without this change, once an employee has worked in a municipality for more than 20 days, that municipality may start taxing part of the employer’s own income. 4. Rainy Day Fund – Permits the DeWine administration, prior to the end of the fiscal year (June 30), to seek State Controlling Board approval to transfer funds from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund to the state’s General Revenue Fund, if necessary, in order to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Approval for this transfer would be needed from at least two Controlling Board members from the House and two from the Senate in order for the request to be approved. Currently, there is $2.7 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. 5. Local Governments · Open Meetings – Grants members of a public body permissive authority to hold, attend and take public actions in public meetings by video conference, teleconference and any other available electronic means, provided certain requirements are met. The public body would be required to provide public access to a meeting held in this manner and ensure the public can observe and hear the discussions and deliberations. The public body would still have to provide proper meeting notice and have a quorum. Under the proposal, a “public body” has the same meaning as defined in ORC 121.22 and includes counties, townships, municipalities at the local level, as well as boards, commissions and other state- level entities. · Clean Water – Access to clean water in homes is critical when dealing with the COVID-19 emergency. This language would provide the Director of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency authority to direct public water systems to not disconnect, and to restore service to homes that have had their water shut off for nonpayment. Many of the utilities have voluntarily taken this step, and the PUCO has ordered public utilities to do so. · Auditor of State – Requested by the Auditor of State, this language allows the Auditor of State to waive certain criteria on a case-by-case basis to conduct an agreed-upon procedure audit of eligible subdivisions. · Access to County Offices – The bill generally requires the offices of a county recorder, county auditor and the title office of a clerk of court of common pleas, and a county map office, to remain open to land professionals and automobile, watercraft, all-terrain and mobile home dealers for property searches and title processing. · Local Vacancies – Provides a county central committee of political party additional forty-five days to fill vacancy from the date the vacancy was required to be filled during the period of the emergency declared by Executive Order 2020- 01D, issued March 9, 2020. Federal Information • Final CARES Act $2 Trillion Relief Coronavirus package  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6819239-FINAL-FINAL-CARES-ACT.html on3-25-20 by a 96-0 vote.  House vote Hospitals and Healthcare • $150 billion for the healthcare system • Includes funding for hospitals, treatment, and the Strategic National Stockpile to raise supplies of ventilators, masks, and other needed equipment • $100 billion will go to hospitals and the health system • $1 billion will go to the Indian Health Service Stimulus Checks • $250 billion for one direct payment to individuals and families • Payments are expected to go out within 3 weeks • Those earning $75,000 or less will receive a $1,200 check • Married couples earning $150,000 or less will receive a check for $2,400 • Additional $500 check per child aged 16 or under • Payment scales down for individuals earning above $75,000 • No payment for individuals making over $99,000 and couples with no children earning $198,000 Business Loans • Existing Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: Provides $17 billion for the SBA to cover the next six months of loan payments due on existing SBA 7(a) loans, Certified Development Company loans, and microloans. • SBA Disaster Loans: Provides $10 billion for the SBA to provide economic injury disaster loans to small businesses until December 31, 2020. While casinos and any gaming or racing business that derives more than a third of their annual gross income from gambling and racing are not normally eligible for such loans, the OHHA is working to clarify the applicability of the CARES Act to horsemen. • SBA Interruption Loans: Provides $349 billion for the SBA to provide “interruption loans” to small businesses, self-employed individuals, 501(c)(3) organizations, and veterans organizations, provided they have less than 500 employees or they meet SBA small business size standards (whichever is greater), with broadened eligibility for some franchises and businesses that provide food and accommodation services. • SBA Express Loans: Temporarily increases the maximum loan amount for an SBA Express loan from $350,000 to $1 million. • $150 billion for state and local governments to respond to coronavirus.  Stops President Trump, top government officials, and members of Congress and their families from getting loans or investments from the Treasury stimulus programs. • Treasury stimulus programs include a special loan facility to enable banks and other lenders to extend low interest loans to eligible mid-sized US Businesses, states, tribes, and local governments suffering from the impact.  Interest expenses on the loans is tax deductible. • Businesses that eliminate more than 10% of their workforce are not eligible for aid under the Bill until September 2020. Employers must retain or rehire at least 90% of workers and restore compensation and benefits. • $454 billion to provide loans to distressed companies, loan guarantees, and other Federal Reserve Lending programs to support businesses.  Gaming businesses are eligible or relief under this program as long as they are not receiving other economic relief • $50 billion of that will go to passenger airlines • Trump administration agreed to an oversight board and inspector general position to review how the money is spent • Republicans failed in attempt to cap unemployment at 100% of a workers wages that they received while previously employed Tourism Grants for Economic Revitalization •  Community Development Block Grants: Provides $5 billion in grants to states and local governments to mitigate economic disruptions in impacted industries, including making direct grants to tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19. •  Economic Development Agency Grants: Provides $1.5 billion to state and local governments for economic injuries to impacted industries, including grants to support economic revitalization of tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19. • Student Loans • All student loans, borrowed within the last 10 years and held by the federal government, will undergo an automatic payment suspension until September 30, 2020 • Individuals can choose to keep paying • Interest will not accrue during this period • Wage garnishment due to lack of payment will be suspended • Payment count will still continue to go up by one each month Tax Provisions / IRS  Temporary Universal charitable tax deduction. A temporary universal charitable tax deduction for donations of up to $300 to both itemizers and nonitemizers. (Lankford language to increase the cap was not agreed to. • Temporary suspension of charitable contribution limits. The charitable tax deduction claimed by a taxpayer each tax year is generally limited to no more than 50% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI), unless a taxpayer gives only cash, in which case the limit increases to 60% of AGI. The bill will temporarily suspend these limitations on the charitable tax deduction per taxpayer in 2020. • Carryback of net operating losses.  Carryback losses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 to offset 100 percent of taxable income in the last five years, generating funds for gaming businesses. • Deferral of Social Security Taxes: Gaming employers may defer their share of Social Security tax payments on employee wages otherwise due for the remainder of 2020. This allows half to be paid by December 31, 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022. • Increase on Business Interest Deduction: For 2019 and 2020 tax years, gaming businesses can deduct interest expense up to 50 percent of their adjusted taxable income (EBITDA: earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), up from 30 percent of such income previously. • Qualified Improvement Property Fix: Gaming businesses will be able to immediately write-off building improvement • Refundable Credits for Prior Year Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT): Accelerates the ability for corporations to recover AMT credits, allowing a refund claim now to obtain additional cash flow. Extending Benefits: Provides enhancements to existing state unemployment insurance programs, including: • Allowing furloughed workers to receive unemployment insurance benefits • Waiving the seven-day waiting period for regular unemployment insurance • Extending the duration of unemployment insurance benefits • Promoting short-time compensation benefits for workers forced to cut hours • The U.S. and Canada have decided to suspend all non-essential travel during the two countries during the pandemic, while ensuring that trade between the countries is not disrupted.  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/18/canada-us-plan-to-close-border-to-non-essential-travel-135373 Columbus Information Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Columbus is suspending all in person bill payment and permitting services for the Department of Public Utilities, Building and Zoning Services, Recreation and Parks, and Department of Public Service at the 111 Front Street Coleman Government Center and Jerry Hammond Building at 1111 East Broad Street until further notice. Department of Public Utilities payment options: • Use drop boxes at 111 Front Street or in front of the Public Utilities Complex along Twin Rivers Drive (910 Dublin Road) • On line portal:   https://schedulepayment.com/Columbus • Payment by phone or billing questions can be directed to the Customer Service Center 7 am – 3 pm:  614-645-8276 • Western Union locations in Kroger stores:  https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/pay-bills.html Additional information can be found via the resources below: • Daily press conferences at 2:00 PM: http://www.ohiochannel.org/live/governor-mike-dewine • Dept. of Health coronavirus updates: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/ • Secretary of State’s updates on voting/press releases: https://www.ohiosos.gov/coronafacts/ • Request Absentee Ballots:  https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/absentee-ballot/#gref • Mental Health coronavirus-related resources: https://mha.ohio.gov/Health-Professionals/About-Mental-Health-and-Addiction-Treatment/Emergency-Preparedness/Coronavirus • Ohio Department of Education Information for School and Districts: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Student-Supports/Coronavirus • Workforce Development: https://workforce.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/workforce/ • Child Care Information for Providers: http://jfs.ohio.gov/cdc/CoronavirusAndChildcare/ • Ohio Department of Insurance Bulletins: https://insurance.ohio.gov/wps/portal/ gov/odi/about-us/bulletins/ • Supplemental guidance on screening for employees and employers: https://associationdatabase.com/aws/OLA/asset_manager/get_file/433958?ver=1. • City of Columbus Coronavirus Resources: https://www.columbus.gov/covid19resources/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery • Health Policy Institute of Ohio Coronavirus Guide: https://www.healthpolicyohio.org/coronavirus-covid-19-in-ohio/ • Phone: For any questions you have about COVID-19, please call 1 (833) 4- ASK-ODH from the hours of 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. • If you want to volunteer to help-mail:  together@governor.ohio.gov with your name, contact information, and how you can help. • THE FOLLOWING ORDERS HAVE BEEN ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONA VIRUS, EITHER BY GOVERNOR DEWINE, OR BY THE OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: • Executive and Public Health Orders: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/ gov/covid-19/home/public-health-orders/public-health-orders • 03/19/20 Executive Order 2020-05D Telehealth • 03/17/20 Executive Order 2020-04D Temporary Pandemic Child Care • 03/17/20 Executive Order 2020-03D Unemployment • 03/14/20 Executive Order 2020-02D Emergency Amendment Rule • 03/14/20 Executive Order 2020-01D Declaring a State of Emergency • 03/25/20 Director’s Order to Close Facilities Providing Child Care Services • 03/22/20 Director’s Order to Stay at Home • 03/21/20 Order to Certain Entertainment Venues • 03/21/20 Order to Prohibit Adult Day Support or Vocational Habilitation Services in a Congregate Setting • 03/21/20 Order to Close Facilities Providing Older Adult Day Care Services and Senior Centers • 03/20/20 Order to Cease Business Operation at Hair Salons, Day Spas, Nail Salons, (More) • 03/17/20 Order non-essential surgery • 03/17/20 Order to Close Polling locations • 03/17/20 Order to Limit and/or Prohibit Mass Gatherings in the State of Ohio (Amended) • 03/17/20 ODH Director’s Order Closure of the Polling Locations • 03/16/20 Director’s Journal Entry on Updated COVID-19 Reporting Requirements • 03/15/20 Health Director Order Limit Food, Alcohol Sales to Carry Out Delivery Only • 03/15/20 Health Director Order Limit Access Jails and Detention Facilities • 03/14/20 Order the Closure of All K-12 School in the State of Ohio • 03/14/20 Health Screening for Admission to State Operated Psychiatric Hospitals or to DYS Facilities • 03/14/20 Order to Limit and/or Prohibit Mass Gatherings in the State of Ohio • 03/17/20 Order to Limit Access to Ohio’s Nursing Homes and Similar Facilities (Amended) • 03/14/20 Order to Limit Access to Ohio’s Nursing Homes and Similar Facilities Resources for Businesses and Workers: ENHANCED UNEMPLOYMENT AID FOR OHIOANS: • The Governor will issue an executive order, which will grant the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) with the authority to accept and grant requests for unemployment compensation suspending the normal 1-week waiting period. • This order will also give relief to applicants who are not offered paid leave through their job, as well as those who have been quarantined by a medical professional, their employer, or whose employers must temporarily close. Those who apply for unemployment under these circumstances will be exempt from the requirement that they be actively seeking work. Learn more at Unemployment.Ohio.gov or JFS.Ohio.gov/Coronavirus. ONE-TIME LIQUOR BUYBACK: • The Ohio Department of Commerce will immediately begin offering a one-time liquor buyback option to support bars and restaurants. This will especially aid those establishments that have stocked up on high-proof liquor ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday for which they now have no use, due to their closure to in-house patrons. • Bars and restaurants wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should return their unopened, high- proof liquor products (obtained within the past 30 days) to the agency where they purchased the product. This opportunity is also extended to those with temporary (F2) permits for events scheduled between March 12 and April 6, 2020. If a business has questions about this program, they should reach out directly to the Liquor Enterprise Service Center (LESC) at 1(877)812-0013 or by emailing OhioLiquorInfo@Com.Ohio.gov. SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES & NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS: • The Ohio Development Services Agency submitted an application to qualify Ohio for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Ohio’s request for small businesses to receive economic disaster relief loans has been approved.  This program provides low-interest loans up to $2 million in order to help businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue during the state of emergency. • Non-profit organizations in Ohio will also be eligible for low-interest loans through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. • To complete the state’s application, businesses impacted by the current public health crisis should immediately send their contact information to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.gov. Additional information on the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program is available at SBA.gov/Disaster. BUREAU OF WORKERS COMPENSATION: · The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is announcing that insurance premium installment payments due for March, April and May for the current policy year may be deferred until June 1, 2020. At that time the matter will be reconsidered. Additionally, BWC will not cancel coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid because of COVID-19. For more information, attached is a FAQ sheet or you can visit www.BWC.Ohio.Gov Pennsylvania        Meadows Standardbred Owners Association Meadows Standardbred Owners Association Update –   03/27/2020 PA General Assembly: • The Senate session is scheduled for April 6, 7 and 8 at 11:00 AM • The House has scheduled session for April 6 at 1:00 PM Federal Information: • Senate passed coronavirus package and if passed in the House on Friday, March 27, Treasury is proposing emergency funds to be direct deposited by April 6 or checks to be received within 3 weeks: $1,200 Individual (income under $100,000) $2,400 Couples $   500 per child under age 17 (Minimum payments of $600 for those with no federal tax liability, and aid would be phased down at adjusted gross income thresholds)   https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/25/whats-in-stimulus-package-coronavirus-149282 • Canada-U.S. border to closed to nonessential travel on Friday night https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/19/canada-us-border-closing-coronavirus-137433 Additional Information: • PA Dep’t. of Health coronavirus updates: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx • Phone: for any questions you have about coronavirus: call 1-877-724-3258 • LIVE daily briefings from the PA Department of Health:  www.governor.pa.gov/live/ or watch on Facebook •  Governor Wolf is expected to sign a measure postponing the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 2. For Businesses and Workers: • Governor Wolf: Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to Small Businesses facing losses related to Coronavirus  https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-economic-injury-disaster-loans-available-to-small-businesses-and-non-profits-facing-losses-related-to-covid-19/ • Unemployment Compensation for Pennsylvanians –   www.uc.pa.gov/pages/covid19.aspx          Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association – Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association Update – (03-26-20) Pennsylvania COVID-19 Resources Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Dedicated Website: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx PA COVID-19 Daily Report:   https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/COVID-19%20Situation%20Reports/20200324nCoVSituationReportExt.pdf PA COVID-19 Daily Press Conference Stream (3:00 p.m. EST):   https://pacast.com/live/doh or https://www.governor.pa.gov/live/ PA Case Map:   https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/#CasesinPennsylvania PA Stay At Home Order:   https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/?fbclid=iwar22jtpidu7weyoljqvlamjvtxygc76bnouq3mdkpfbjs5nvc6ff2pufnjg#StayatHomeOrder PA Information for Travelers:   https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx PA COVID-19 FAQs:   https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/FAQs.aspx Questions about COVID-19 in Pennsylvania? 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) PA Department of Labor & Industry:   https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx PA Department of Revenue:   https://www.revenue.pa.gov/Pages/AlertDetails.aspx PENNDOT:   https://www.penndot.gov/pages/coronavirus.aspx PA Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs:   https://www.ddap.pa.gov/Get%20Help%20Now/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx PA Department of Community and Economic Development:   https://dced.pa.gov/resources/ PA Department of Banking and Securities:   https://www.dobs.pa.gov/Businesses/COVID-19%20Information%20and%20Guidance/Pages/default.aspx CDC COVID-19 Testing Guidelines & Symptom Self-Checker:   https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html PHHA Partner Tracks The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Updates:   https://mohegansunpocono.com/updates.html Harrah’s Philadelphia Updates:    https://www.caesars.com/corporate/coronavirus-guest-information Luzerne County (Pocono):   https://www.luzernecounty.org/1263/Luzerne-County-COVID-19-Response Delaware County (Harrah’s):   https://www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/coronavirus.html PHHA Health Coverage Information – 3/24/20 The PHHA has transitioned to working remotely but are still available for assistance by calling the PHHA office at 610.874.5200.  Moving forward, the PHHA will not be billing any of its members for their April health premium. If a member has paid ahead, those monies will remain on their account as a credit. Additionally, the PHHA is encouraging all members to take advantage of MDLIVE, a free service through Independence Blue Cross in which a doctor can be accessed remotely.  https://www.mdlive.com/   Virginia – Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association   Wisconsin – Wisconsin Harness Horsemen’s Association Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

The California Horse Racing Board conducted two separate meetings on Thursday, March 26, by teleconference. The public participated by dialing into the teleconference and/or listening through the audio webcast link on the CHRB website. Both meetings were chaired by Dr. Gregory Ferraro, joined for the first meeting by Vice Chair Oscar Gonzales and Commissioners Dennis Alfieri, Damascus Castellanos, Wendy Mitchell, and Alex Solis. Commissioner Mitchell did not participate in the second meeting. The audios of these two meetings are available on the CHRB Website (www.chrb.ca.gov) under the Webcast link. In brief, during the first, regular meeting: Chairman Ferraro opened the meeting by welcoming Commissioner Castellanos to his initial meeting as a member of the Board. Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Commissioner Castellanos on March 10. In two separate but related actions involving both emergency and permanent rules, the Board voted to re-establish the 48-hour restriction on the administration of medications or other substances to horses entered to race unless otherwise authorized by regulation. The change to the emergency regulation went into effect immediately, while the permanent rule was approved for 15-day public notice. The Board approved a regulatory amendment prohibiting the administration of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide to 2-year-olds. The amendment also reduces by half the level that can be administered to horses permitted to race with furosemide. The Board put over to the April 22 meeting further discussion of a regulatory amendment clarifying that racing veterinarians are under the direction of Official Veterinarians, allowing racing associations input, as requested by The Stronach Group. The Board approved for public notice an amendment to the rule governing penalties that makes veterinarians and other licensees who violate shock wave therapy regulations subject to the same penalties as trainers. The Board approved a regulatory amendment requiring individuals to hold an assistant trainer's license in good standing for one year as a qualification for a trainer's license. The Board approved a requirement for practicing veterinarians to use an electronic on-line form prescribed by the Board when submitting their required veterinarian reports to the Official Veterinarian. The Board approved a regulatory amendment requiring trainers to maintain treatment records of all medications they administer to horses in their care at facilities within the CHRB's jurisdiction. The Board authorized the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club to distribute $90,839 in race day charity proceeds to nine beneficiaries and another $13,744 to four beneficiaries. The Board designated the 2020 fair racing sessions in Pleasanton, Sacramento, Ferndale, and Fresno as a combined meet for pari-mutuel purposes. The Board approved an industry agreement.to use a designated portion of Advance Deposit Wagering revenue that would ordinarily go to horsemen's purses and racetrack commissions to be used to fund a California co-op marketing program. After the conclusion of the first, regular meeting, the Board reconvened the teleconference to hold a special meeting to address a single agenda item. The Board approved a change to the license application of Watch & Wager LLC, allowing harness racing at Cal Expo to switch race days from Fridays and Saturdays to Tuesdays and Wednesdays.   Reprinted with permission of The Paulick Report

East Rutherford, NJ - Be advised that any horse that was being trained by a harness racing trainer named in the recent Federal indictments at the time those indictments were handed down will not be accepted to race at The Meadowlands, Tioga or Vernon Downs in overnights or stakes for 60 days from the date that the tracks reopen for live racing.    

Perhaps the biggest scandal in all of U.S. sports to come out in the past year is the federal indictment of dozens of thoroughbred and harness racing insiders alleged to have been involved in doping leading racehorses. And while the initial indictments came on March 9, other indictments trickled out even as the COVID-19 disaster overtook virtually the entire news cycle. But the stunning allegations are no less stunning because of the timing. The main indictment had as its stars Monmouth Park thoroughbred big names Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis — but later ones placed Yonkers Raceway and its harness racing leading lights in its target. The Yonkers horse racing community already was reeling from the deaths of three trainers from COVID-19, including the first fatality of a New Jersey resident. Rene Allard, who at $5.8 million in purse winnings was third in the industry in North America last year, has been charged in a conspiracy involving longtime veterinarian Louis Grasso, who was indicted on Feb. 26 for allegedly misbranding drugs in interstate commerce. Last fall, according to the indictment, Grasso and another alleged co-conspirator, Ross Cohen, discussed the fact that a number of Allard’s horses had died. The disturbing conversation Cohen, according to the indictment, asked Grasso, “What’s going on with the Allard death camp?” Grasso then said “two or maybe three” horses have died from “amino acids” that caused “high fever, kidneys shut down.” “One of them just died on the table, they just cut him open and poof it died,” Grasso is alleged to have said. Cohen: “Holy f-ck f-ck did they do an autopsy.” Grasso: “Their heart rate was like triple they were breathing real heavy their membranes were going f-cking purple.” Allard — second in earnings at Yonkers so far this year — also is alleged to have sent a text message to Grasso in October 2019 that read: “I will need 3 bottles of red Acid [an anti-inflammatory drug] to go to canada Thursday.” Per the indictment, a barn raid on March 9 in Middletown, N.Y. — where Allard stabled a number of horses — led to the discovery of multiple syringes and numerous bottles of mislabeled drugs. Other harness racing figures indicted Also named is Donato Poliseno, owner of a veterinary supply business in Delaware who is alleged to have purchased and distributed PEDs from Grasso. Trainers Thomas Guido III and Conor Flynn are alleged to have obtained the PEDs from Grasso as well. Richard Banca, the leading trainer at Yonkers Raceway so far this year, was named in a separate indictment on similar charges and employed Flynn. Banca owns the Middletown, N.Y. facility that was raided, according to his indictment. “Flynn has stated, in substance and in part, that Flynn administers horses owned, trained, or otherwise under Banca’ s control, with PEDs at Banca’s direction,” the indictment alleges. Banca first rose up to the top ranks at Yonkers in 2015, producing 174 winners — more than double his previous best — and another 200 in 2016. Allard and Banca were the two trainers involved in a controversy at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 2017, when each — already banned at that track by owner Jeff Gural — turned over the reins of horses that were then allowed to race. Among the PEDs involved aside from “red acid”: Erythropoietin, better known by brand name Epogen and nicknamed “epo” in the industry and designed to improve endurance A variety of “pain shots” or “joint blocks” designed to deaden a horse’s nerves, which can result in leg fractures that require a racehorse to be euthanized Bronchodilators, or “Bronk,” designed to increase a horse’s oxygen intake The latest indictments, if proven, echo the callousness for the welfare of racehorses demonstrated in the Navarro and Servis indictments. In February 2019, Servis is alleged to have warned Navarro via text about a racing official. Navarro then allegedly told another conspirator, “He would have caught our asses f-cking pumping and pumping and fuming every f-cking horse that runs today.” By John Brennan John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record. Reprinted with permission of The njonlinegambling.com

Surveillance Firm Played Role in Federal Indictments The Jockey Club, Meadowlands employ 5 Stones intelligence. During the past four years, The Jockey Club and Meadowlands Racetrack have retained the services of a leading international investigative company, and that association might have paid a dividend in the recent federal indictments of Thoroughbred trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro as well as several harness racing trainers in a doping scheme. Through the recommendation of officials from the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency, The Jockey Club turned to 5 Stones intelligence in 2016 to provide confidential investigative services.  "It is vitally important to the sport that it is regulated competently and by authorities that are independent," said James Gagliano, the president and chief operating officer for The Jockey Club. "That is a hallmark of the Horseracing Integrity Act, and it has never been more important to the sport, given the events of this week." Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural, who operates a harness racing meet at the New Jersey racetrack, said he also employed 5 Stones and that information from 5 Stones played a role in the federal indictments of 29 people that were announced March 9-11 by the United States District Attorney, Southern District of New York. "We participated with The Jockey Club in retaining (5 Stones) to help lead the FBI in the right direction," Gural said. Gagliano said The Jockey Club is continuing its engagement with 5 Stones. He added that the indictments illustrate horse racing's urgent need to support passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, which calls for a single non-governmental, anti-doping authority to oversee medication rules and testing. "This crisis has to be a rallying point for the sport," Gagliano said. "In my view, passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act will lay the foundation for a once-in-a-century system change that puts welfare and integrity as the guiding principles of how the sport is regulated." Gural echoed the call for passage of the HIA, saying racetracks have been turning a blind eye to cheaters for far too long. "All the racetrack owners in the country who said they cared about this didn't care. They had to know the only way to catch these guys was through undercover and surveillance companies. Without them, you were just giving lip service that you cared," Gural said. "There's no gray area when it comes to honesty. Everyone knew the system was broken, but no one cared about it. There's no way we can tell people in politics that we care if we don't let the USADA take over. The funny thing is that when I would talk to people who oppose the government taking over, the next thing I would ask is if the current system is working, and 100% would say no. I don't understand that. They knew the system wasn't working, and they were happy with it.  "If we don't bring in the USADA now and get behind the (HIA), we should shut down the sport. It would say we really don't care." According to the company website, "5 Stones intelligence is a leading intelligence and investigative company based in Miami, with offices throughout the world. 5Si possesses the world's largest private HUMINT intelligence network and supports intelligence collection and analysis, global investigations, and operations support for Governments and corporations." Servis, who trains recent Saudi Cup winner Maximum Security, who was disqualified from first to 17th in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and Navarro, the seven-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park, are scheduled to be arraigned March 23 on charges of a misbranding conspiracy.  BloodHorse reported March 14 that Servis and Navarro could appear before the New York federal court for arraignment and initial conference either in person or by telephone conference in a concession to travel difficulties because of COVID-19. The indictment charged that Servis had performance-enhancing drugs administered to "virtually all of the racehorses under his care" and that Navarro orchestrated "a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to horses under his control." Navarro is facing two counts of the misbranding charge, each carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Servis was charged with one count and could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty. Among the harness trainers indicted are Rene Allard, who was third in North American earnings last year, Richard Banca, Nick Surick, Chris Oakes, Chris Marino, Rick Dane Jr., and assistant trainer Conor Flynn. Allard, Banca, Oakes and Marino were barred by Gural from racing at Meadowlands prior to the indictments. Banca and Allard are the runaway leaders at the current Yonkers Raceway meet, combining for 367 wins in 2020 before racing was suspended due to COVID-19 after the March 9 card. Gural believes there will be more indictments in the weeks and months to come. "People will (provide information to authorities)," Gural said. "Anyone who used these people who were indicted cannot be sleeping well." By Bob Ehalt Reprinted with permission of bloodhorse.com

Hightstown, NJ — The new editions of DRF Harness Digest, Harness Racing Update, and HarnessRacing Weekend Preview feature stories related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and harness racing. Among the stories available from those outlets, DRF’s Derick Giwner wrote Thursday about the lasting impact COVID-19 could have on the industry. “By the time Spring rolls around the harness racing world is usually enjoying the start of stakes racing at Yonkers Raceway where the top older pacers gather for the Borgata (nee Levy) and Matchmaker series,” Giwner wrote. “Yet as the seasons change on March 20 we are left in limbo due to the coronavirus, not just in terms of when we’ll see the best the Standardbred sport has to offer but also when it comes to the normalcy of a steady racing schedule.” To read the full story, click here. Note that several tracks have suspended operations in the time since the story was published, such as Miami Valley, Northfield, Rosecroft, and Rideau Carleton. HRU’s Dave Briggs talked to Hambletonian Society President John Campbell. “I think there’s a certain segment of the public that’s not taking it as seriously as they should,” Campbell said Wednesday. “I think everybody has to…be diligent in this social distancing and limiting what you do when you’re out in public. Just be out in public the least amount that you possibly can.” To read the full story, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Columbus, OH — Saturday’s (March 21) NJ.com reported on the death of five New Jersey harness racing horsemen, including four from the Fusco family. To read the complete story click here. from the USTA Communications Department

The question of whether racing will be forced to shut down in the coming days is set to become clearer following a meeting of the National Cabinet on Sunday Night.  Racing's ability to proceed appeared to be diminished on Sunday after states flagged tougher measures to be implemented early this week to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.  Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian have announced their intention to implement a shutdown of all non-essential activity across their respective states over the next 48 hours. "This is not something that we do lightly, but it’s clear that if we don’t take this step, more Victorians will contract coronavirus, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and more Victorians will die," Mr Andrews said in a statement. "Victorians will still be able to go to the supermarket, the bank, the pharmacy and other essential stores, like petrol stations and convenience stores. Freight, logisitics and home delivery are also considered essential and will remain open."   "I will also inform National Cabinet that school holidays will be brought forward in Victoria, starting on Tuesday 24 March."   Dan Andrews   ✔@DanielAndrewsMP     Statement on Victoria's response to Coronavirus:       In a statement on Sunday night, Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said meetings were scheduled on Monday to clarify what the latest government measures mean for racing.  “We note the comments today by the Prime Minister and Premier of Victoria regarding the strengthening of measures to contain the COVID-19 virus and that the National Cabinet is now meeting this evening to further discuss these measures," Mr Thompson said.  “We also note there is uncertainty amongst our industry as to what this means for the continuation of racing and training within Victoria and that a wide range of stakeholders are seeking answers on this front. “As it stands, we have a range of meetings planned tomorrow morning to best understand the Federal and State Government directives following the National Cabinet meeting and to consider the appropriate advice from health authorities and our medical experts. “Once we are armed with all of the appropriate information and have had time to discuss it with the relevant authorities, we will then be in a position to consider it with all of our stakeholder representative groups. “It is our intention to provide a comprehensive update when we have greater clarity on the immediate requirements and necessary actions of our industry. Given the unprecedented and evolving nature of this situation, we are not in a position at present to confirm an exact time as to when that update will be provided. “We note that the National Cabinet is meeting this evening to further discuss domestic measures in the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus,” the statement read. “We’ll be seeking further guidance from Government and our medical experts following tonight’s meeting as to what any new measures, including recommendations around domestic travel, mean for Victorian racing and our stakeholders.” Along with the decision by the Victorian and New South Wales governments to enforce a shutdown of non-essential services, South Australia and Western Australia have announced border closures, while the Federal Government advised all non-essential travel should be cancelled.  The AFL announced on Sunday afternoon the postponement of their season for at least two months following just one round of matches, while the remainder of the AFLW season was cancelled.  Despite the AFL postponing their season, Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’Landys, who is also chief executive of Racing NSW, said the NRL was set to continue unless they forced to cease, given teams don't have to travel to SA and WA.  “I honestly don’t know (if this could change),” V’landys told The Daily Telegraph, “it is moving so fast. “We have said from day one that we will act in accordance with the medical health officers and the biosecurity experts. “If the health authorities allow it we will be still playing. Unless the chief medical officers say otherwise.” Meanwhile, Harness Racing NSW chief executive John Dumesny issued a brief statement to stakeholders and participants.  "HRNSW will comply with all Government requirements in these challenging times, however it will continue to represent the best interests of the Industry," he said.  "As the situation is better known you will be advised accordingly."   By Nick Hluchaniuk Reprinted with permission of The Punters.com.au site

In places like California and New York, where state governments are urging social distancing, horse racing is still happening for fans betting online. The Kentucky Derby, long known for its spot on the sporting calendar on the first Saturday in May, is making a big shift to September. But even the coronavirus pandemic has not stopped horses from racing and gamblers from betting on it across the United States. While the virus has transformed the sporting landscape, leaving fans with virtually nothing to watch or bet on, horse racing has remained an option particularly for gamblers isolated at home. On Wednesday, for example, you could watch and bet on horse races taking place at tracks in Australia, Louisiana and Texas, as well as harness racing in Sweden, Canada and Ohio. On Friday, several major thoroughbred tracks, such as Aqueduct in New York and Santa Anita Park in California, plan to be open for competition and wagering, running full slates with four to 10 horses per race. Fans will be prohibited from the tracks, as they were last weekend. NBC Sports — in need of live broadcasting content — announced Wednesday that it would simulcast “Trackside Live,” the signature program of the horse racing network TVG that jumps around to live races around the sport on Saturday and Sunday. Despite its many, many problems — including an alarming number of horses who suffer fatal injuries and a federal doping investigation that has so far yielded 28 indictments — horse racing remains a multibillion-dollar industry and racetrack operators intend to keep their doors open, if possible. Even as schools and restaurants close and large gatherings are restricted, the races have held on, with the blessing of regulators. Brad Maione, a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission, said that it had approved the continued racing at Aqueduct as long as no fans are allowed to attend. He said Aqueduct is an open-air facility, capable of producing racing programs with a small number of workers (fewer than 50, and not in a confined area). Beyond no fans or food, the restrictions are that no visitors, including horse owners, are permitted in the barn areas. New York’s thoroughbred tracks saw $2.1 billion in wagers in 2019. They contributed $15.4 million in tax revenue. “Opening Aqueduct, and racetracks across the country, supports horsemen and their businesses, racetrack employees and the backstretch community,” said David O’Rourke, chief executive of the New York Racing Association, which operates the largest tracks in the state as part of an industry that supports the jobs of some 19,000 people statewide. In California, where races generate more than $16 million in annual tax revenues, racing had also been approved for this weekend, said Mike Marten, a spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board. “All wagering is remote from patrons at home using account wagering platforms,” Marten said. While social distancing has become regular practice in so many parts of American life, many fans have stuck with one of the few live sports still happening, even remotely. More than $17.5 million was bet on races at Aqueduct from Friday through Sunday, according the to association. TVG, which broadcasts races from more than 150 tracks across the world, saw a 75 percent increase in wagering on its betting platform on Saturday and Sunday, compared with the same two days in 2019. The FanDuel Racing app was downloaded more over the weekend than it had been in the previous three months, reaching the No. 6 most-downloaded on Apple’s list of free sports apps, according to TVG. The app was designed for first-time horse-racing bettors in anticipation of the Triple Crown races. “We didn’t think it would take off under these circumstances,” said Kip Levin, the chief executive officer of TVG. “As you can tell, people were looking for a distraction.” The network also told its anchors and commentators to simplify their explanations and insights to make them understandable for novice bettors. Its simulcast arrangement with NBC Sports could nearly double its reach: TVG is in 45 million homes while the NBC Sports Network is in 83 million homes. So far, TVG has a significant number of tracks still running to broadcast. “But that may be changing by the hour,” Levin said. At a time when nearly 600 people live in facilities on the backside of Belmont Park to take care of feeding, grooming and walking horses, New York racing officials said they are simply following the recommendations of state and federal health authorities to not have fans at the track. The horses must be cared for whether there is racing or not. Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, postponed America’s most famous race until Sept. 5. The Preakness and Belmont Stakes — the other two-thirds of the Triple Crown — have yet to decide if they will follow the Derby into the autumn. “All options are on the table, including running the Belmont on June 6,” said Pat McKenna, a spokesman for the New York Racing Association. The prospect of holding the Derby before a crowd of more than 150,000 prompted Churchill Downs to delay the race for the first time since World War II. “Its energy and its magic really comes from everybody being there to enjoy it,” Bill Carstanjen, the chief executive of Churchill Downs Inc., said during a conference call. “We will roll with the punches but we feel very good that Sept. 5 is the right date.” NBC Sports, which holds the broadcast rights to the Triple Crown, is in talks to hold the three-race series within a window of five weeks in the fall. If that happens, the Preakness would most likely be held Sept. 19 and the Belmont on Oct. 10. Maryland Jockey Club officials acknowledged that they were talking to NBC Sports about a deal to move the Preakness. “It had to be done,” Carstanjen said of the Derby postponement. “We own it and will make it a really special day. We are also excited that NBC is in talks to move the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to September and early October, respectively. We hope the parties can reach a final agreement.” By Joe Drape Reprinted with permission of The New York Times

SCHENECTADY – As they face federal charges for doping racehorses, five thoroughbred trainers and a harness racing owner will continue to be barred from racing in New York, the state Gaming Commission ruled. At a Wednesday morning hearing, gaming officer Michael Hoblock, who was appearing via video-conferencing, decided that the suspension of state racing licenses for trainers Henry Argueta, Christopher Marino, Christopher Oakes, Nicholas Surick, Michael Tannuzzo and horse owner Scott Mangini, will remain in place. Another six who were also indicted on federal charges for conspiring to mislabel and smuggle performance enhancement drugs into their barns, including famed trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, did not appear. Their hearing with the commission was previously adjourned and will be reconsidered after their criminal cases work their way through the courts. The 12 are among 27 trainers, veterinarians, riders and owners nationwide who had their licenses suspended on March 9 when the indictment was unsealed. At that time, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman alleged they had "designed to secretly and dangerously enhance the racing performance of horses beyond their natural ability, a dishonest practice that places the lives of affected animals at risk.” The only defendant to appear at the hearing was assistant trainer Henry Argueta. He was not accompanied by a lawyer and had some difficulty understanding the proceeding as his English is limited. However, he did understand that his license is temporarily suspended. He is listed in the Servis indictment for misbranding conspiracy and faces up to five years in prison. Servis was allegedly involved in a scheme to obtain an illegally manufactured drug called SGF-1000. The drug is designed to increase a horse's stamina and endurance. According to the indictment, Servis gave the drug to "virtually all" of the horses he trained. The indictment also alleges that the two trainers heavily doped two of their most successful horses, Maximum Security and XY Jet. Maximum Security, trained by Servis, won the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference. On Feb. 29 of this year, the horse won the world's richest race, the $10 million Saudi Cup. XY Jet, trained by Navarro, won more than $3 million in 26 starts before dying of a heart attack on Jan. 8. Navarro allegedly administered 50 injections of a performance-enhancing drug into XY Jet's mouth, according to the indictment. The indictment is the result of a two-year probe, Berman said. “These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money,” Berman said when he unsealed the indictment in March. “And it was the racehorses that paid the price for the defendants’ greed.  The care and respect due to the animals competing, as well as the integrity of racing, are matters of deep concern to the people of this District and to this Office.” If the 12 are convicted, the gaming commission will consider revoking their racing licenses permanently. Alleged doping dozen in New York State Henry A. Argueta, assistant thoroughbred trainer and exercise rider Alexander Chan, veterinarian Rick A. Dane, Jr., harness trainer  Conor J. Flynn, harness groom Scott Mangini, harness owner    Chris W. Marino, harness trainer Jorge I. Navarro, thoroughbred  Christopher W. Oakes, harness trainer  Kristian S. Rhein, veterinarian  Jason Servis, thoroughbred trainer  Nicholas K. Surick, harness trainer   Michael E. Tannuzzo, thoroughbred trainer licensed  The indictment coincides with efforts in Congress to pass the Horseracing Integrity Act, co-sponsored in the House by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam) and led in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), which would hand oversight of administering drugs to racehorses to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the governing body that runs the U.S. Olympic anti-doping efforts. The act would eliminate the current patchwork of state-by-state rules and align the nation's tracks with much of the rest of the world.  New York Racing Association, which manages the Saratoga Race Course as well as Aqueduct Racetrack and Belmont Park, supports the measure. By Wendy Liberatore Reprinted with permission of The Times Union  

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