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It's Eric Warner's job to set up the daily race fields at Monticello Raceway but you can’t draw up what you don’t have. The raceway was forced to cancel its scheduled extra harness racing card for Friday afternoon because there’s a “severe horse shortage,″ as stated by the New York State Gaming Commission. An ideal day calls for 80 horses to make a full card, said Warner, Monticello’s director of racing. Monticello managed to schedule 10 races on Monday and Tuesday, and has nine scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Friday was a rare opportunity for a fifth day of racing at Monticello but a sufficient lineup was unavailable. “It’s industry-wide at this point,″ Warner said. “We try to race more times during the winter because other tracks are closed and we generally have more horse population to race but at this point we didn’t have enough to go five days. ... It is disappointing.″ Warner said many horses are stabled at the facility and others are transported from farms in the Middletown and Pine Bush area. Some horses come from as far away as the Saratoga region and northeast Pennsylvania but those horses may be unavailable as their owners get them ready for the upcoming openings at Saratoga Casino Hotel next month and Mohegan Sun Pocono in the spring. “I have said over and over again, there is not a shortage of horses; there’s too much racing,″ said Buffalo Raceway chief operating officer Jim Mango. Buffalo tried to schedule three days of racing but had to cancel its Friday cards last week, this week and next because of the shortage. Mango said his Buffalo facility was stabling 300 horses at this time last year and only 130 now. “In New York state, at any one time you could have five (harness) race tracks going ... it’s just ridiculous,″ said the outspoken Mango. “We’re trying to deal with it as an industry where there unquestionably has to be a reduction of race days.″ “It’s definitely a serious problem, especially for the tracks that are racing the lower class of horses, which certainly the small harness tracks are in the category like that, the tracks that offer the smaller purses.″ Monticello Raceway actually had to get approval from the state gaming commission to cancel since all race dates are applied for and approved by the commission. Monticello has three remaining “fifth” racing dates on July 6, Aug. 3 and Dec. 21. Series schedules announced The New York Sire Stakes season will culminate with the $1.8 million finals hosted by Yonkers Raceway on Sept. 22. The finals for the Excelsior Series will be hosted by Saratoga on Sept. 23. The Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series divisions will open action at Yonkers on May 8. Goshen Historic Track will host events in both series on June 30 and July 1. The schedule for the County Fair Series will be released in a few weeks. The New York Sire Stakes is the premier harness-racing program for 2- and 3-year-old Standardbreds, and is administered by the Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. At a glance New York Sire Stakes schedule (for local tracks) 3-year-old Colt Pace: June 18 at Monticello; June 30 at Goshen; July 30, Aug. 28, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Pace: June 30 at Goshen; Aug. 6 at Monticello; Sept. 6, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 2-year-old Colt Pace: June 26, Aug. 24, Sept. 22 at Yonkers; July 4 at Monticello 2-year-old Filly Pace: July 6, July 24, Sept. 22 at Yonkers; Sept. 10 at Monticello 3-year-old Colt Trot: July 1 at Goshen; July 16 at Monticello; July 27, Sept. 11, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Trot: May 8, Aug. 7, Sept. 22 at Yonkers; June 4 at Monticello; July 1 at Goshen 2-year-old Colt Trot: July 9 at Monticello; Aug. 20, Sept. 14, Sept. 22 at Yonkers 2-year-old Filly Trot: June 25 at Monticello; July 3, Aug. 13, Sept. 22 at Yonkers New York State Excelsior Series 3-year-old Colt Pace: June 18 at Monticello; June 30 at Goshen; July 30, Aug. 28 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Pace: June 21, Sept. 6 at Yonkers; June 30 at Goshen; Aug. 6 at Monticello 2-year-old Colt Pace: June 26, Aug. 24 at Yonkers; July 4 at Monticello 2-year-old Filly Pace: July 6, July 24 at Yonkers; Sept. 10 at Monticello 3-year-old Colt Trot: July 1 at Goshen; July 16 at Monticello; July 27, Sept. 11 at Yonkers 3-year-old Filly Trot: May 8, Aug. 7 at Yonkers; June 4 at Monticello; July 1 at Goshen 2-year-old Colt Trot: July 9 at Monticello; Aug. 20, Sept. 14 at Yonkers 2-year-old Filly Trot: June 25 at Monticello; July 3, Aug. 13 at Yonkers By Ken McMillan Reprinted with permission of The Times Herald-Record

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, August 31, 2017 - With the permission of the New York State Gaming Commission, advance wagering shall be offered Friday (Sept. 1st) for Yonkers Raceway's pair of Saturday night (Sept. 2nd) harness racing $500,000 Triple Crown events. The 63rd Yonkers Trot, with a nine-horse field for the first time since 2000, goes as the fifth race (approximate post time 8:47 PM), a race after the 62nd Messenger Stakes (approx.. post 8:22 PM). First post for the dozen-race card is the usual 7:10 PM. Total purses of the program are just under $1.5 million. Frank Drucker

Schenectady, NY --- The New York State Gaming Commission today indefinitely suspended harness owner, trainer and driver Michael S. Weiner for racing four horses at Monticello Raceway doped with mitragynine, a dangerous drug with performance enhancing and analgesic effects similar to cocaine and morphine. Commonly known as Kratom and derived from the plant Mitragyna speciosa that grows only in Southeast Asia, there is no legitimate reason for mitragynine to be found in any race horse. Kratom is a controlled substance in many countries and has been declared a “drug of concern” by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency with no known legitimate industrial, agrochemical, chemical, human or veterinary medical use. The drug was found in Weiner’s horses through the introduction of an analytical detection methodology by the New York Drug Testing and Research Program (NYDTRP). To date, it has not been identified in any other racing jurisdiction. After the NYDTRP identified the presence of Kratom, the lab conducted a drug administration trial to substantiate that administration had occurred within one week of the horses’ races in clear violation of Commission rules. “This dangerous drug has no business anywhere in horse racing,” said Ronald Ochrym, the Commission’s Director of Horse Racing and Pari-Mutuel Wagering. “Thanks to the innovative work of the New York Drug Testing and Research Program, this individual is no longer participating in the sport and we are on the lookout for additional cheaters.” Weiner trained four horses that raced at Monticello Raceway on February 2, 3 and 7, 2017. Bupa Bruiser finished first in the third race at Monticello on February 2, 2017 French Lick finished fifth in the third race at Monticello on February 3, 2017 Vernon Belle finished second in the seventh race at Monticello on February 3, 2017 Majestic Jo finished first in the fifth race at Monticello on February 7, 2017 All four horses have been disqualified and Weiner’s share of purses in the above mentioned races have been ordered returned. Effective today, Weiner is summarily suspended and is excluded from all New York tracks. Upon full adjudication by the Commission, Weiner could ultimately have his license to participate revoked and face up to $25,000 in fines per violation. A hearing on the matter is currently scheduled for June 2. What is Mitragynine? Click here. More here Chemists study the neurochemistry of alkaloids from the Mitragyna plant In study after study, Mitragynine is called out as the most prevalent and potent alkaloid in the kratom leaf’s arsenal. Unintentional Fatal Intoxications with Mitragynine by Lee Park, director of communications, New York State Gaming Commission 

ALBANY -- In 2003, New York's racetracks were paying out among the lowest prizes in the nation, and many of the tracks, particularly upstate harness racing facilities, were nearly set to be put out to pasture. Then the racetracks started adding video-lottery terminals. Now, the purses -- the amount paid out to winners in the races -- are among the highest in the nation, and the revenue at the so-called racinos has also soared. With three new upstate casinos opening in recent months, the state's existing gaming halls face new competition after enjoying years of rising revenue for their casino-like facilities and horse-racing operations, a review of records by the USA Today Network's Albany Bureau found. Purses at New York's seven harness tracks have tripled over the past 14 years, creating an unprecedented dynamic: There's nearly no one in the stands, but the prize money is at levels not seen in decades. "I’ve said to many people that if you want to make money in (harness) racing, this is the best opportunity you’ve had in many, many years," said Bob Galterio, the COO at Yonkers Raceway, the state's largest harness track. ►NY just had a record year for its lottery ►With three new NY casinos open, can they succeed? ►House wins big with casino tax breaks Ninety-two percent of the money from gamblers at the state's racetracks with the video-lottery terminals goes to pay the players as prizes. The key figure is the 8 percent that's left: It is split among the tracks, the horsemen and the state. Without the piece that goes to purses and breeders, horse racing in New York would be nearly non-existent, track officials and experts said. The industry is a major one in New York's agricultural sector: It employs 32,000 people, according to its trade organizations. "If the VLTs didn’t come in 2004, I really doubt racing would be here," said Chris Riegle, the president of Finger Lakes Gaming and Racing, the only upstate thoroughbred track outside of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course. Also, "I don’t think there would be very many harness tracks in New York." Avoiding closures Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then-Gov. George Pataki and state lawmakers sought to help the state's economy by allowing the horse tracks to add video-lottery terminals -- the slot-machine-like devices controlled by a central computer system in Schenectady. The move was a way to boost the state's coffers by designating about half of that coveted 8 percent to fund schools. It also was a way to keep horse racing alive after decades of decline in the sport, which was once a major local draw. Batavia Downs in western New York is the oldest nighttime harness track in the nation. Yonkers drew 40,000 people on weekend nights in the 1960s. In 2004, the first VLT facilities opened. It has been a boon to all sides. "It definitely saved racing; it saved the jobs," said Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier and Vernon Downs in central New York. Of the net win -- the money left in the machines after payouts to winners -- 8.75 percent goes to the horsemen and 1.25 percent to the breeders. The rest is split between the state and racinos. The tracks also get 10 percent for marketing and 4 percent for facility improvements -- including hotels that some are building. The money has helped the state's coffers: The racinos contributed nearly $1 billion in 2015 to the state designated for education -- or 48 percent of the nearly $2 billion in net win. Anthony Palermo, of Rochester, plays a slot machine on opening day of del Lago Casino.  (Photo: Jamie Germano/@jgermano1/Staff Photographer)   Soaring purses The purses at the state's eight racetracks and the three tracks run by the New York Racing Association hit $301 million in 2015 -- up 87 percent since 2003. For just the seven harness tracks, purses went from $35 million to $118 million, records from the state Gaming Commission showed. So the average purse per race went from about $4,000 to $11,000 over the 14 years -- putting New York among the top five in the nation. The figures have been extraordinary at some tracks: Batavia Downs' purses grew from $1.8 million to $5.5 million; from $4 million to $18 million at Saratoga harness; and from $20 million to nearly $63 million to Yonkers. Some tracks said they are dealing with a shortage of horses. "If you and four friends had $20,000. The best thing to do is to get together, each kick in $4,000 and buy a $20,000 claimer and race it at Yonkers Racetrack," Galterio said. "The purses are so good. You race every week." Rising racinos While the gambling money has throw life preserver to racing, it also boosted the tracks' owners. The money going to the racinos has skyrocketed since they opened. The tracks, after a sluggish start, negotiated lower payments to the state in 2007. At Finger Lakes, the so-called agent commission -- the tracks' main revenue stream -- doubled to $40 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year that ended March 31. At Yonkers, it was up 50 percent to $177 million since 2008, while Tioga Downs' commission grew 59 percent since 2007 to $22 million. So while the purses are up, so too are the tracks' fortunes, said Joe Faraldo, president of the state's Standardbred Owners Association, which represents the harness horsemen. "The horsemen, their purses have gone up dramatically -- the same way track revenue has gone up with these VLTs," Faraldo said. Live harness racing at Batavia Downs. (Photo: Annette Lein)   Subsidizing racing So the situation has created a scenario where purses are up despite fewer people betting on the races. Yonkers stopped publishing its attendance figures in the late 1980s. VLT revenue provides an increasing percentage of the purses: In 2004, 50 percent of the purses came from the VLT revenue; in 2011, it was 71 percent, state records show. At the same time, total handle at the harness tracks -- the amount bet on the races -- dropped 21 percent between 2003 and 2015, hurt in part by the closure of New York City Off-Track Betting in 2010. The on-track betting on the races also fell: It was down 56 percent at Yonkers over that stretch and down from $3.4 million to $1.5 million at Batavia. Most of the betting comes from simulcasting of races around the state, country and internationally, which is a growing business at Yonkers, in particular. "I don’t want to say it’s become a television studio, but it more important to produce a good-looking television signal than to have tasty hot dogs in the stands," Galterio said. Growing competition The reliance on VLT revenue has raised concerns within the racing industry, which fears the tracks will one day seek to drop racing or cut the amount that goes to it. "A lot of these racinos kind of make it difficult to go to the track, because they would rather be a straight casino and not do racing at all," Assembly Racing Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, said. Those fears have grown after the casinos opened in recent months in the Finger Lakes and Schenectady, with one set to open next year in the Catskills. At Finger Lakes, it received a lower tax rate last year because of the competition from del Lago, which opened earlier this month in Tyre, Seneca County, 28 miles away. Even with the competition, though, the horsemen will be held harmless. The 2013 law that allowed for four upstate casinos included a provision that requires the new casinos to keep purses at the same level as 2013 -- if the new casinos cut into the racinos' bottom line.  (Photo: File photo)   Negotiating at Finger Lakes That's a current fight: The horsemen at Finger Lakes face a cut in purses if the racino's revenue drops because of del Lago, which is not required to make the track whole. The casinos have to help the racetracks in the zones established by the state: Finger Lakes, though, is outside the del Lago zone. The sides -- Finger Lakes, del Lago and the state -- are now trying to find a solution to help the horsemen. "I’m hopeful we’ll come to a conclusion very quickly," Riegle said. Pretlow said the Legislature has no plans to revisit the split of revenue between the tracks and the racing industry: "Part of this whole thing is to help racing." The tracks said they continue to invest in their racing, saying it is still a viable portion of their business. Yonkers points to expansion in recent years of hosting major stakes races, including the $1 million International Trot each fall; tracks said they have upgraded their racing facilities. But the tracks often seek fewer racing dates each year, despite protests from the industry, and Finger Lakes won't disclose how many dates it wants this year as it negotiates a new contract with its horsemen. "It really boils down to how much purse money you have to hand out and how many horses you have," Riegle at Finger Lakes said. "If you have a respectable amount of both, you can run more." Gaming the future Dave Brown, president of the Finger Lakes horsemen association, charged that the tracks would just as soon drop racing if they could, but they are bound by the state law. "There is no question they’d love to not run. And they make it difficult for us," he said. Riegle rejected that idea, saying it is still "a pretty significant piece" of the business. Gural, a horse owner who also owns the Meadowlands track in northern New Jersey, said he's concerned about the future of racing in New York. The tracks are not required to market the sport to new customers, and its fan base is dwindling. In December, Tioga Downs received a gaming license to turn from a VLT facility to a full-scale casino. "Without the slots or the VLTs, there would be no harness racing. It’s totally dependent on the revenue we receive from the slots," Gural said. He added, "The problem is that most of our customers are older and we have not successfully created an industry for the younger generation. So what happens when all those people die off?" Joseph Spector , Albany Bureau Chief Reprinted with permission of The Democrat and Chronicle

The New York State Gaming Commission today announced significant, nation-leading action in addressing the presence of the alkaloid glaucine in the urine and plasma of harness racing horses, resulting in more than $100,000 in purses returned and 11 disqualifications, plus additional fines and suspension for a single trainer whose horses had particularly high levels of the substance. Glaucine, also known as Boldine Dimethyl Ether or 1,2,9,10-Tetramethoxyaporphine, is a potent drug with the potential to affect race performance by means of its anti-inflammatory, antitussive, bronchodilatory and hallucinogenic properties. Glaucine has not been approved as a drug for any use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) does not include glaucine in its Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances. “New York is once again leading the way when it comes to preserving integrity in horse racing,” said Commission Executive Director Robert Williams. “The Commission took deliberative action based upon solid research to hold trainers accountable for substances found in horses under their care. We call on other jurisdictions around the country to follow suit to send a clear message: we will tolerate nothing short of fair and safe horse racing.” “The New York State Gaming Commission’s action on glaucine preserves the integrity of the internationally renowned horse racing we host in New York State,” said Peter Arrigenna, a prominent New York harness horse owner and Trustee for the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund (New York Sire Stakes). “Glaucine has been a hot topic in the harness racing world for the past year, and thanks to New York’s prudent action on this substance, the industry has a clear path forward in how to best handle future cases.” Over the past year, the Commission found 55 instances of horses with glaucine in their systems at levels greater than 100 pg/ml. As is standard practice, all impacted horses were immediately put on the Stewards List, which prevents a horse from entering any future races until the horse is tested and found negative for the presence of any illegal substance. Of the 55 instances found by the Commission, 11 were found to have levels higher than 500 pg/ml. For these cases, the Commission ordered that the horses be disqualified from the applicable races and any purses won by the owners of those horses be returned, totaling $103,530. Trainer Richard Johnson twice raced the horse “Rubber Duck” at Yonkers Raceway with glaucine levels far greater than 1 ng/ml. In addition to the disqualification and purse return totaling $61,660, Johnson is facing a 45-day suspension and $1,500 fine. A complete list of horses that had elevated levels of glaucine may be found here. The Commission began finding elevated glaucine levels in January 2016, but reserved issuing rulings pending further investigation. Over the past year, the Commission and the New York Drug Testing and Research Laboratory have collaborated with other jurisdictions and national racing organizations to conduct research on glaucine, which may be naturally found in wood shavings used to line horses’ stalls. New research conducted by New York and Pennsylvania officials substantiate that glaucine levels of 500 pg/ml or greater in a horse on raceday indicate that the horse was introduced to a potentially efficacious dose of the substance on race day. Therefore, the Commission’s Rule 4120.2(n) applies, which states that no drugs or medications – other than those specifically exempted - may be administered by any means within one week of the scheduled post time of the race in which the horse is to compete and that it is the trainer's responsibility to prevent such ingestion within such one-week period. Most recently, the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium’s (RMTC) Glaucine Task Force and Science Advisory Committee – both of which include New York State Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, VMD – recommended applying two thresholds for the presence of glaucine in a race horse. The Commission’s actions today – and going forward – are based on these standards and disqualifying a horse that violates such thresholds: > 500 pg/ml = Disqualification, loss of purse and Stewards List > 1 ng/ml = Disqualification, loss of purse, Stewards List and additional penalties, including fines and suspension The Commission will continue to place horses that test in excess of 100 pg/ml for glaucine on the Stewards List and require those horses to test below such concentration before being permitted to race again. Horses testing in excess of 500 pg/ml will incur penalties as described above. Per Equine Medical Director Dr. Palmer, environmental contamination is avoidable by the adoption of simple stable management practices: ·         Stalls should not be bedded with bulk wood shavings that may contain tulip poplar material on a chronic basis or during the week that a horse races. Do not administer any product or plant material, whether purchased online, compounded or otherwise, that may contain glaucine. NYS Gaming Commission

Batavia, NY---The New York State Gaming Commission has approved a request from Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) to extend the current Batavia Downs harness racing meet by two days: Friday (Dec. 16) and Saturday (Dec. 17) will be added to the current schedule. Post time for Friday (Dec. 16) will be 6:15 p.m. and Saturday (Dec. 17) will be 5:00 p.m. "WROTB asked for the additional days to make up for the first Sunday of the current meet that was cancelled due to a shortage in the box and also to accommodate the large number of Christmas parties looking to book the clubhouse during live racing" said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "It will also shorten the amount of down time for our horsemen between when our meet ends and Buffalo Raceway starts back up." Please note; there will be a double-draw on Tuesday (Dec. 13) for both Friday and Saturday of that final week. For more, information log onto and click on the "live racing" tab. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The New York State Gaming Commission has received at least 35 written reports from its own highly regarded testing laboratory regarding positive tests for Glaucine at New York State tracks.  Other jurisdictions have reported similar positives.  Not only hasn't the Gaming Commission taken any action to call for the return of purse money, much less done anything as required by its regulations; now the Commission has apparently decided that there is some reason to have RMTC ((Racing Medication and Testing Consortium) conduct "research" on Glaucine. The drug is manufactured, and generally available, outside the United States. This has been done despite the Gaming Commission's research lab coming to its own conclusions; something in the past always deemed more than satisfactory. Meanwhile, with no action taken, positive tests continue to be reported in New York and other jurisdictions.  Presumptively, RMTC will issue a report about this drug at some point in time, but more time will obviously pass.  One has to wonder why this unprecedented action is being done via RMTC, and what data is being shared or withheld from RMTC? RMTC was formed with the intent of developing a Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule (CTMS) to achieve uniformity in the use of therapeutic medications in race horses, while preventing medications and drugs from unduly influencing the outcome of races.  The RMTC does not have a very good track record achieving its goals, and its scientific work in establishing thresholds has often left much to be desired.  Dr. Scott Palmer, the New York Gaming Commission's Equine Medical Director who sits on the newly announced Task Force, certainly knows that to be the case. In the past, RMTC sought to provide a guideline to the New York Gaming Commission to adopt for all breeds for Flunixin (Banamine) and for Clenbuterol for harness horses. The recommendations were not only contrary to some of RMTC’s own scientific guidelines; its research, such as it is, remains  hidden under a "confidentiality" agreement which prevents RMTC's members from divulging even the research they reviewed, much less the scientific basis for their determinations of those thresholds.  It is, of course, intuitively obvious that undisclosed, unpublished research can never fail to pass peer review. Had the New York State Gaming Commission adopted those RMTC thresholds, New York horsemen would have suffered false positives, because the RMTC guidelines were, in point of scientific fact, erroneous, and later corrected.  By way of example, in 2013, RMTC adopted a threshold for Xylazine (Rompun) that was too low. That reportedly resulted in the disqualification and penalization of over thirty (30) horses and trainers.  In 2016, after those horsemen were penalized, RMTC increased the threshold 20 times higher; that did little good for those Florida horsemen who saw a spike in drug positives. Florida was one of twenty states adopting the much heralded National Uniform Medication Program. Uniform rule recommendations not based upon scientific fact present a horrible scenario for individual horsemen, as well as for the industry. What in God's name was the basis for those RMTC recommendations in the first instance? Just this year, two more threshold changes occurred; one for the analgesic detomidine, the other for omeprazole (ulcer medicine).  The originally published RMTC thresholds were apparently not based on actual science at all, tantamount to perhaps being pulled out of a hat and conveniently protected under the confidentiality agreement.  The confidentiality agreement shielded RMTC from scientific scrutiny, the kind to which the New York State Gaming Commission laboratory is subjected, as the industry bares witness to in contested cases where all underlying data is subject to legal and scientific challenge.  RMTC, once receiving financial support from the USTA, saw that support come to an abrupt halt because it ignored the harness industry and the apparent failings discovered in push back by the SOA of NY.  Thankfully, due to that aggressive push back, the New York State Gaming Commission did not follow the RMTC’s recommendations for Banamine and Clenbuterol thresholds. Thus, potentially devastating catastrophes for horsemen as a result of ill-conceived guidelines were avoided in New York. The Florida thoroughbred horsemen did not fare as well, and today the HBPA begs to undo the RMTC uniform rule guidelines. Later, RMTC issued a threshold level for Cobalt which also seemed to be out of touch with actual research being conducted on the drug.  Research principally funded by the USTA conducted by Dr. George Maylin, the New York State Gaming Commission's equine pharmacologist, as well as  renowned  researchers Dr. Karen Malinowski and Dr. Kenneth McKeever of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University, also exhibited clear problems with RMTC's conclusions and recommendation in this area. After the problematic RMTC litany listed, one would think that Dr. Palmer, the Equine Medical Director, himself not a research scientist, would know better than to look to RMTC for assistance of any kind on the reported Glaucine positives in New York.  This is especially so, since the New York State Gaming Commission's lab should have, and did give consideration to possible environmental contamination in the  levels reported to be found in both blood and urine.  It is reported that the New York lab conducted tests to determine just how much a horse would need to eat of its own bedding to hit the levels allegedly found. Astoundingly, in order to achieve these levels, it was scientifically determined that anywhere from 3 to 10 quarts of shavings would need to be ingested during the relevant time frame.  Getting back to the basic problem with the RMTC selection, it should be noted that RMTC also developed an accreditation process for equine drug testing laboratories. Accreditation costs states money in order to meet the accreditation protocols; money that could have been better spent on research on drugs that heretofore, and still today, go undetected.  Interestingly, when the Indiana Horse Racing Commission sent "audit samples" to a second lab for analysis, the second lab found several "positive tests" which were missed by RMTC's accredited Truesdail Laboratories, Inc. So what is the reason to have the RMTC Task Force study Glaucine? One stated reason is to consider where to assign Glaucine in the system of drug classification.  Well, if it is a bronchial dilator like Albuterol, Clenbuterol, Afrin or Fenspiride, which even RMTC calls threats to the integrity of racing, one would not need great intuitive powers to group the drug in the same class.  One has to wonder if the New York State Gaming Commission's Equine Medical Director, Dr. Palmer, is searching for someone, anyone, to provide the Gaming Commission with some rationale for its departure from the normal process of, after the horse test clean, return of the purse for redistribution and affording the trainer the opportunity to present facts proving contamination, if indeed that is the case.  The industry has now been waiting the six (6) months someone predicted this would take and the latter two items remain open in spite of New York State Gaming Commission regulations.  Therefore, one is prompted to ask if something else is going on here?  Is it the pleading to New York regulators from an interested party when these positives first surfaced, telling them he was getting "crucified in the press"?  Is it the fact that levels as high as 11 ng/ml, coupled with the high number of positives, is just too much for the industry to swallow?  With positives allegedly found in many places now, the self-serving mantra that some tracks claim, that of being the pinnacles of integrity, become indelibly tarnished.  In New York, no substance, other than listed permissive medications, are allowed to be present in a horse's system within seven (7) days of racing.  Glaucine has a half-life of only 6-8 hours and is not a listed substance. What will the marriage of RMTC and Glaucine produce? What is the expected gestation period; 6, 9 or 12 months? Will confidentiality be waived? It should be remembered that an industry which rightfully clamors for the need to detect previously unknown and undetectable substances, whose origins are generally in foreign countries as Fenspiride and Clenbuteral were years ago, must acknowledge that it still wants  new substances  detected. If not, we are wasting a great deal of time and effort for naught.  In sum, there is no "cover" for lack of integrity, and while horsemen do push the envelope as far as they can sometimes, neither regulators nor scientists should demonstrate anything less than the responsibility accorded the roles in which they are vested. Often, however, they seem to have difficulties to getting out of their own way. The New York reported Cobalt positives, originally meted-out as career-ending fines and suspensions, were negotiated out to much lesser penalties, but that was not reported. The multitude of horsemen in New York and elsewhere will continue to watch this Glaucine saga quite closely, and with much scrutiny being given to the process itself, to determine if the motive is genuine, or ulterior.  The prime open question here is: with RMTC's questionable track record and its confidentiality requirement which doesn't lend itself to any scientific scrutiny, what is the exercise trying to achieve? Hopefully, for the good of this game, warts and all, the RMTC group assembled, was not cherry picked for some questionable purpose. The industry deserves the facts based upon solid, verifiable scientifically data for the good of all, and especially for the good of the game itself. Joseph A. Faraldo

In a letter to the Hon. John Bonacic, Chairman, NYS Senate Racing & Wagering Committee, the Hon. Gary Pretlow, Chairman, NYS Assembly Racing & Wagering Committee, Robert Williams, Executive Director, New York State Gaming Commission, Members of the NYS Gaming Commission and the Members of the NYS Legislature, Harness racing owner/driver and President of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, Joe Faraldo speaking on behalf of his Association explains that retribution by Jeff Gural against them is now taking place as a direct result of their opposition to a piece of legislation that did not pass this session.  Here is the Letter;  I am writing on behalf of thousands of hard-working harness horsemen across New York State to make you and your colleagues aware of the retribution that is now taking place against them as a direct result of their opposition to a piece of legislation that did not pass this session.  As you know, the SOA of New York, along with the horsemen’s associations at Monticello, Saratoga, Buffalo and Batavia, submitted memos in opposition to S7786 (Bonacic) and A10215 (Pretlow), which would have allowed an individual track owner in New York State to race his own horses at his own tracks – thereby threatening the very integrity of the sport.  As a direct result of these bills not passing, the track owner in question – Jeff Gural, who owns Vernon Downs, Tioga Downs and the Meadowlands – immediately retaliated against me personally by decreeing a lifetime ban against me ever racing any horses I own, in whole or in part, pursuant to valid NYS licenses, at any of these tracks again (and as you will see from the attached article below from the “View from the Grandstand” blog, while Mr. Gural attempted to mask this retribution by citing a technicality with one of my recent entries at the Meadowlands, the unbiased blog author clearly concludes that “this exclusion is retaliatory”). While this retaliation against me was perhaps not unexpected, what was more shocking – and one would think should be of more serious concern to you, your legislative colleagues and New York State’s racing regulators – was that Mr. Gural followed this personal ban with an additional ban against qualifying at his tracks for ALL horsemen stabled at a track where the statutorily recognized horsemen’s association submitted a letter of opposition to his bill.  This is an absolutely unprecedented action – based on nothing more than a track owner’s anger and petulance over not getting his way – and, quite frankly, it reinforces exactly why it was such a prescient decision not to move this legislation in the Assembly or Senate.  The horsemen were extremely concerned about allowing “racing against the boss,” because of the possibility that he could influence the race office and judges and/or retaliate against individual horsemen he would be racing against.  Now, Mr. Gural’s retaliatory actions demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that this fear was definitely justified and so thank you for having the wisdom not to move these bills. We remain committed to continuing to work together to grow our industry with fairness, transparency and integrity, and so once again we simply wanted to make sure you were aware of the types of challenges we unfortunately sometimes face in that effort.  Please don’t hesitate to call me at 718-544-6800 or our lobbyist, Joni Yoswein, at 212-233-5700 should you have any questions and thank you again. Joe Faraldo President, SOA of NY   “View from the Grandstand” Sunday, June 19,2016 LAW AND ORDER As you may have read in today's Harness Racing Update, Joe Faraldo has been handed a lifetime ban from the three Gural tracks for listing himself as trainer on two horses for this Friday's Billings events at the Meadowlands when they are actually trained by a trainer on the exclusion list who is listed as the trainer whenever the horses race in New York. Needless to say Faraldo is claiming foul, that the exclusion is in revenge for his engineering the defeat of a bill in New York State which would have allowed Gural's horses to race at Tioga and Vernon Downs in overnight events where they currently are prohibited from racing.  More about this in a moment. It would very well appear this exclusion is retaliatory as these horses were entered twice at the Meadowlands and allowed to race, without question.  Faraldo's exclusion came after he raced his horses this past Friday night.  The race office should have rejected the entries the first time if Faraldo was violating the rules. Truth is, trainers often change when racing in another state.  I for one know of one trainer who, when sending horses to New York, had the horses race under the owner's name as trainer because of Workers Compensation requirements in the Empire State; the trainer didn't have the required coverage.  Truth is horses often race under different names at different tracks for a myriad of reasons; sometimes innocently, other times to get around rulings (aka, bearding). It certainly would appear the ban comes in retribution for Faraldo leading the effort to keep track owners from racing in overnight events at their own track.  However, Faraldo must have known Gural would be gunning for him; hence unless looking to provoke action, Faraldo should have dotted his 'i's and crossed his 't's and not given Gural a reason to ban him.  Of course, Faraldo is not the only one to suffer for the legislation going down to defeat.  Gural has also decided horses stabled at tracks where horsemen opposed the legislative change would not be allowed to qualify at Gural's tracks; they would still be able to race.  For the horsemen in these association groups, their penalty is more of an inconvenience.  Still, a pretty ballsy action from Gural considering how full the entry box has been at his tracks as these horsemen may decide 'if they can't qualify there, they aren't going to race there'. Quite honestly, as much as it may be an inconvenience it may be to get Gural's horses to race in overnight events, the legislature was right to defeat the legislation which would have allowed him to race his horses locally.  I would never suggest any chicanery on the part of Jeff Gural, but allowing a track operator to race at his own tracks in overnight events would not be a good idea; the perception given when the track operator wins would be he was allowed to win because he owns the track.  Just think what handicappers would be saying the first time a track operator's horse was involved in an inquiry and allowed to stay up.     

Late Thursday afternoon the New York State Gaming Commission began releasing the names of the harness racing trainers of record who have had recent Glaucine positives. Nicholas Surick, Michael “Mickey” Peterson and David Wiskow were the first three names that have been posted. Surick had one positive, Peterson three positives and Wiskow two positives. All six of the positive tests came from horses competing at Monticello Raceway. Apparently the New York State Gaming Commission is only having the horses disqualified and any purses earned returned. There is no mention of any fines or suspensions for the trainers. It has been said that as many as 35 horses involving over 15 different trainers have come up with Glaucine positives.   Licensee: NICHOLAS K. SURICK Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER-DRIVER Notice Number: MR 33-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #1, "JACKS TO OPEN", who raced in race Seven at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:50 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: MICHAEL ( MICKEY ) A. PETERSON Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER Notice Number: MR 34-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #6, "NATURAL BREEZE", who raced in race Eleven at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse was returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:51 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: MICHAEL ( MICKEY ) A. PETERSON Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER Notice Number: MR 35-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #3, " LAST CHANCE T", who raced in race Six at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:52 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: DAVID J. WISKOW Licensed As: GROOM Notice Number: MR 36-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #2, "MEAN PAULINE", who raced in race Seven at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:52 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: MICHAEL ( MICKEY ) A. PETERSON Licensed As: OWNER-TRAINER Notice Number: MR 37-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record on the #5, "LAST CHANCE T", who raced in race Six at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE,  this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:53 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. Licensee: DAVID J. WISKOW Licensed As: GROOM Notice Number: MR 38-2016 Racing Type: Harness Track: Monticello Raceway & Mighty M Gaming Notice Date: 04/28/2016 Ruling Type: Other Rule(s): 4120.5 Ruling Text: As trainer of record of the #5, "ROCKETPEDIA", who raced in race One at Monticello Raceway and tested positive for GLAUCINE, this horse has been disqualified and the purse must be returned. Note that the above data is current as of 5:53 AM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016 and subject to change as more information becomes available. To view the New York State Gaming Commission rulings for 2016 click here.  Harnesslink Media

In the last couple of weeks, Harnesslink has broken the Glaucine story emanating from the drug positives reported on Ron Burke and Julie Miller trained horses. Since then a number of other trainers located in NJ, PA and NY have had positives reported for the same drug. These positives were reported to the New York State Gaming Commission by its own lab, which not so long ago reported positives for a different bronchial dilator and a number of trainers were then subsequently penalized. The current rash of Glaucine positives simply cannot be dismissed out of hand by the regulatory body in NY. The response, to the drug infraction positives reported by the very competent New York State Lab for Ron Burke and Julie Miller, from The Meadowlands and Jeff Gural, was a huge surprise to me as well as many in North America. Instead of doing what Gural has done to every other trainer and driver since he took over The Meadowlands who have either had reported drug positives or some personal peeve, and stand them down from his tracks, Jeff Gural gave Ron Burke and Julie Miller and some others a free pass on a reported positive and did not stand any of them down. It is a complete turnaround from how The Meadowlands and Jeff Gural have treated everyone else in a similar situation based upon nothing more than - a reported positive test. The one known exception of course is a few years ago, if my recollection is correct, you guessed it, one of Jeff's trainers got a positive. In that case, once the vet was blamed all was apparently forgiven. Remember the Canadian owner barred from the Meadowlands because his trainer had a reported positive? I  recognize that it is a great embarrassment for Jeff Gural to have people who train for him charged with drug infractions (as perhaps it was for that Canadian owner), but surely for a drug policy to be effective, it must be applied without fear or favour and to suddenly change what has been custom and policy sends a disturbing message to the wider industry as a whole. Compare the response to the Ron Burke and Julie Miller drug positives reported by the New York Gaming Commission's respected laboratory and the unfair treatment recently meted out to Robert Bresnahan Jr. and a host of others who have had reported positives under Gural 's definition of a positive which is obviously not that of any regulatory body in either NY, NJ or PA.   In Bresnahan's case two horses similarly were said to test positive for EPO or its antibodies in out of competition testing. Testing  done by the Meadowlands, not the New Jersey Racing Commission. There was no verification of any positive by the regulatory body lab in NJ. While Bresnahan has asked for additional testing to be taken to clear his name, so far reportedly denied him, he is unable to race horses at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs or Vernon Downs. The reason given in the Meadowlands press release was as follows: "As a result of the positive tests, Mr. Bresnahan will be unable to participate at the Meadowlands and sister properties,Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs".   Yes, just a positive test. So Mr Bresnahan was barred immediately, while Ron Burke and Julie Miller are allowed to continue to ply their trade even though the New York Racing Commission has found drug positives on horses trained by both of them. In addition, Gural (Little E LlC stable), unlike the Canadian owner, continues not only to race his horses at the Meadowlands and Yonkers but does so while employing those trainers with the reported positives. One thing that has really intrigued me about the testing regime in place at The Meadowlands is the almost God like reverence given to the testing laboratory of the Hong Kong Jockey Club which is selected for each case The Meadowlands generally uses to toss someone. Where I come from in the Southern Hemisphere, the harness racing industry certainly doesn't place the Hong Kong Jockey Club on the huge pedestal that the Meadowlands does and one has to wonder why the Meadowlands continually shouts their praises from the rooftops at every opportunity. Is it because that lab will call anything a positive even if it doesn't come close to a violation of any rule or regulation? Is it because it denies the accused any right to clear his name because of where the sample was sent? Is there a reason why the Meadowlands did not ask the Commission in New Jersey to at least accompany its personnel to conduct out of competition testing, so that if there was a violation of drug rules, the party would be officially stood down by virtue of a Commission ruling?  As an outsider looking into the North American scene from the Southern Hemisphere, I just cannot get my head around the way people in the same situation such as Bresnahan -- Burke and Miller can be treated so differently. While the solution seems to stop the hypocrisy and role playing as judge, jury and executioner, and work with the Commissions to see to it that trainers and owners, if the latter are involved, are penalized appropriately for violations of the rules governing racing. Perhaps others have some different ideas to resolve this, reinstate all or bar all, but for the moment the stench of hypocrisy and that of a double standard is so strong in this instance that it has wafted all the way down to the Southern Hemisphere under its own steam. JC

The New York Gaming Commission has reported further positives for harness racing trainers in testing samples for the Class 2 Drug Glaucine.   Trainers Mark Ford, Nick Surick,  Daniel Renaud and Milo Zdjelar have all been given notices that horses they raced came up positive for this drug.   This follows last week's announcement that Ron Burke and Julie Miller were hit with similar drug violations.   Please note, that these are only accusations, and that each of these licensees has a right to due process pursuant to New York law and regulations.   Burke & Julie Miller hit with drug violations   Gural issues statement on Glaucine Positives   Glaucine. An interesting mild-psychedelic with a taste for CEVs and euphoria.   Extract from Wikipedia   Glaucine is an alkaloid found in several different plant species in the Papaveraceae family such as Glaucium flavum, Glaucium oxylobum and Corydalis yanhusuo, and in other plants like Croton lechleri in the family Euphorbiaceae.   It has bronchodilator and antiinflammatory effects, acting as a PDE4 inhibitor and calcium channel blocker, and is used medically as an antitussive in some countries. Glaucine may produce side effects such assedation, fatigue, and a hallucinogenic effect characterised by colourful visual images, and has been detected as a novel psychoactive drug.   Mechanism of Action   Glaucine binds to the benzothiazepine site on L-type Ca2+-channels, thereby blocking calcium ion channels in smooth muscle like the human bronchus. Glaucine has no effect on intracellular calcium stores, but rather, does not allow the entry of Ca2+ after intracellular stores have been depleted.[5] Ca2+ influx is a vital component in the process of muscular contraction, and the blocking of this influx therefore reduces the ability of the muscle to contract. In this way, glaucine can prevent smooth muscle from contracting, allowing it to relax.   Glaucine has also been demonstrated to be a dopamine receptor antagonist, favoring D1 and D1-like receptors. It is also a non-competitive selective inhibitor of PDE4 in human bronchial tissue and granulocytes. PDE4 is an isoenzyme that hydrolyzes cyclic AMP to regulate human bronchial tone (along with PDE3). Yet as a PDE4 inhibitor, glaucine possesses very low potency.   For more on Glaucine from Wikipedia   Harnesslink Media    

Schenectady, NY --- The New York State Gaming Commission today issued a $343,400 fine and three-year ban against harness trainer Luis (Lou) Pena, holding him responsible for 1,717 equine drug violations. In 2012, the Commission (formerly the Racing and Wagering Board) took action against Pena after a comprehensive investigation of veterinary records determined that he was responsible for racing illegally drugged harness horses between January 2010 and April 2012. The original hearing and notice detailing all of Pena’s violations, including a list of all the violations by horse, drug, administration date, race date and track can be found here. “We are pleased that this case has finally come to a close and that Mr. Pena is being held responsible for his actions,” Commission Executive Director Robert Williams said. “The Commission takes all allegations of administrations of illegal substances seriously and will continue to uphold the integrity of racing in New York State.” Pena regularly raced horses in New York while stabling them in New Jersey. In 2012, New York, with assistance from racing officials in New Jersey, conducted a thorough review of veterinary records, which illustrated the 1,717 equine drug violations. The violations included a litany of substances, most of which were administered to horses outside the permitted timeframe as set forth by Commission rules, including: Adrenocorticotropic (ACTH), Hormone Betamethasone (Celestone), Steroid Clenburterol (Ventipulmin) Cortisone, Steroid Cromolyn Sodium, NSAID Fircoxib, NSAID Flumethasone, Steroid Glycopyrrolate (Robinul) Gonadorelin or GnRH (Factrel), Hormone Hyaluronic Acid Derivative (Polyglycan, GEL-50) Levothyroxine, Hormone Magnesium Sulfate (MAG) Methocarbamol (Robaxin) After a subsequent hearing and adjudication, Pena and his attorney pursued various legal attempts to avoid his responsibility, all of which were ultimately rejected. Pena never testified to deny that he repeatedly cheated by administering illegal substances to race horses more than a thousand times. by Lee Park, for the New York State Gaming Commission 

Due to weather related problems that has made the racetrack unusable, track management and the horsemen’s association at Saratoga Raceway have called an end to the live harness racing season with just one week to go. “The bottom line is that the track surface turned into a sink hole,” said Barry Segel, president of the Saratoga Harness Horsemen’s Association. “Both the horsemen’s association and track management felt it was unsafe to race on. “We met on Monday with track management,” Segel explained, “and after hearing that in their opinion the track was still not safe to race on and with bad weather in the forecast, we all decided that in the best interest of all concerned and for the safety of the horses and drivers that we cancel the remaining live race days for the season. “Moving forward, we all agreed and asked the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) to divide equally the purses for the following lost race cards,” Segel added. “We lost live racing now on December 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 & 18. We thought the NYSGC might have some compassion but they said no. They cited ruled 4118.1 and that was the end of that.” Saratoga Raceway will reopen for live racing on Saturday, March 1, 2015. By Steve Wolf, for

Batavia, NY---The New York State Gaming Commission approved two Saturday afternoon cards of racing that were applied for by Batavia Downs to make up for the cancellation of last Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22) night's races due to the adverse weather conditions that plagued western New York last week. With much of the area buried in up to eight feet of snow, The Downs was forced to cancel three nights of live racing. So in an effort to allow the local horsemen to compete for those scheduled purses heading into the winter break, the track asked the state to allow them to run two double-headers on the last two Saturdays of the meet. With that permission granted, November 29 and December 6 will now have two complete cards of racing with post times set at 12:15 and 6:35. A special dining deal has been added for the fans attending the Saturday matinees cards. If you purchase the lunch buffet in the clubhouse for $10.95, you will get $10 back in free play for the gaming floor. So you get lunch for less than a buck! (Must earn one point to redeem this offer) This special is good only for the November 29 and December 6 Saturday afternoon cards of racing. For the horsemen, in addition to the extra race dates, a 20% across-the-board purse increase will also go into effect immediately for the last six racing dates. With the new racing opportunities in place, please note the new draw schedule. The Friday and Saturday afternoon cards will be drawn on Tuesday. The Saturday night cards will be drawn on Wednesday. And the final Wednesday of the meet will be drawn on Friday, as always. The box will close at 9 a.m. If you have any questions please contact Race Secretary Joe Zambito at 585-344-6161. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Recently, the New York State Gaming Commission announced that it has promulgated final regulations governing the conduct of Out-of-Competition Testing in harness racing. In light of this announcement, the Empire State Harness Horsemen's Alliance (ESHHA), representing the interests of thousands of owners, trainers and drivers who regularly compete at harness tracks in New York State, wish to make clear its position regarding Out-of-Competition Testing. ESHHA affirms its position that Out-of-Competition Testing can be an effective tool among an arsenal of investigatory and enforcement devices utilized in the furtherance of integrity in racing. ESHHA's concerns are not grounded in the concept of testing horses who are not competing at a certain point in time but rather regulations that are not seen as effective in the fight to control medication abuse. The problem for harness horsemen is the unconstitutional, unscientific, often contradictory and overly broad scope employed by the Gaming Commission in its proposed conduct of the testing. The recently promulgated rules do nothing to ameliorate the potential overall harm to the industry which was contained in proposed regulations the Gaming Commission's predecessor, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, attempted to implement in 2010. That compilation of introduced regulations was challenged by the industry in court, and while a trial level judge struck down the majority of the Racing Board's proposal, the Appellate Division, Third Department was less sympathetic to the horsemen’s concerns. The industry's concerns regarding that original introduction and the specifics of Out-of-Competition Testing in general, will now be heard by the state's highest court, the N.Y.S. Court of Appeals, with oral argument scheduled for mid-November. In sum, ESHHA will continue its attempts to work with the Gaming Commission to establish an Out-of-Competition protocol that is both rational and legal, and continue with equal fervor to resist attempts to implement rules with no basis in law or science. From the SOA of NY

At its September 4, 2014 public meeting, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission voted 3-0 to approve rules to regulate cobalt levels in race horses. Cobalt is a naturally occurring trace mineral. The excessive administration of cobalt may enhance the performance of, and potentially become hazardous to, the horse. The Commission’s action is based on recommendations in a staff report prepared by its Executive Director, Joe Gorajec. The report, which can be accessed at, indicates that results of blood tests from horses racing this season at Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand indicate that excessive levels of cobalt in horses is jeopardizing the integrity of Indiana’s racing product and endangering the health and welfare of its horses. “The integrity of our racing product and welfare of our horses are of paramount importance to us. The Commission has now taken appropriate action to address this issue,” said Joe Gorajec, Executive Director. The threshold level will be 25 parts per billion (ppb) and enforcement of the new regulation will begin with races conducted on September 30, 2014. Any trainer whose horse’s blood tests high for cobalt will be subject to disciplinary action, which could include up to a one-year suspension, as well as a fine and forfeiture of the purse. The samples will be tested at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Lexington, Kentucky. The Commission would like to thank RMTC’s Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson; LGC Science, Inc. Laboratory Director, Dr. Richard Sams; and the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for their invaluable assistance. In addition, the Commission is grateful to the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and the RMTC for providing the funding of the study which has lead to the threshold level. For further information contact Joe Gorajec at or at (317) 233-3119. New York calls for ten year ban for cobalt use The New York State Gaming Commission today announced that it will issue a standard 10-year suspension to anyone who violates the harness rule prohibiting the use of substances that abnormally oxygenate a horse’s blood, including supra-dietary administration of cobalt salts. Cobalt salts have a number of industrial and agricultural uses, but are not intended for administration to horses. “The Commission will not allow those seeking to cheat to undercut New York’s world-class racing program,” said Commission Executive Director Robert Williams. “We take seriously any practices that compromise the health and safety of race horses. Equine Medical Director Scott Palmer and the New York Drug Testing and Research Laboratory have instituted a comprehensive program to identify violations and will continue to vigilantly advocate for the horse and the public.” Cobalt, a naturally-occurring element with properties similar to those of iron and nickel, is found in low levels in many horse feeds and vitamin supplements such as Vitamin B12 formulations. Low levels of cobalt are present in all horses and are not considered to be harmful. Large doses can cause cobalt toxicity associated with myocardial and other organ pathology in humans and other animals. The detection of abnormally high levels of cobalt in the blood of racehorses results from cobalt being administered to impermissibly enhance aerobic performance through illicit blood doping, similar to the prohibited administration of erythropoietin (EPO). Administration of cobalt salts by oral or intravenous treatment will cause an abnormal increase in serum cobalt levels that the New York Drug Testing and Research Laboratory can detect and is actively monitoring. To enhance the efficacy of this new program, the Commission is not currently publishing the laboratory threshold for cobalt. The Commission’s rule prohibits only the supra-dietary administration of cobalt. The administration of feed supplements and vitamins containing cobalt will increase the serum level of cobalt to a degree consistent with oral supplementation, but will not create the abnormally high levels that result from the administration of cobalt salts. Oral administration of commercially available Vitamin B feed supplements cannot elevate serum cobalt to a level that will create a positive regulatory finding. Water-soluble cobalt salts, however, deliver a supra-dietary dose of cobalt. Such administrations induce a marked and stable polycythemic response (increase in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood) through a more efficient transcription of the erythropoietin gene. The Commission is considering a similar rule for Thoroughbred racing. The harness rule went into effect last month. From the Indiana and New York Racing/Gaming Commissions

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