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The New York State Gaming Commission today took unprecedented action against six Standardbred trainers who administered potentially dangerous and performance-enhancing doses of cobalt to race horses in violation of Commission racing rules. Harness trainers Tyler J. Nostadt, Joseph Carrubba, Dennis M. Washington, Sean M. Campbell, Megan M. Gilmour and Dawn M. DeVaux have been suspended immediately by the Commission and face significant additional sanctions. Horses trained by Nostadt, Carrubba and Washington were found to contain cobalt at egregious enough levels to warrant minimum 10-year bans from the sport for those trainers. The six trainers’ violations occurred at Monticello Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Yonkers Raceway in March 2016. The Commission will refer these matters to appropriate law enforcement for contemplation of animal cruelty charges. “The Commission has found multiple harness horse trainers exhibiting reckless disregard for horse health and safety in the name of trying to gain unfair advantages,” said Commission Executive Director Robert Williams. “They are being held accountable for their actions.” According to New York State Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, VMD, low levels of cobalt, a naturally-occurring element with properties similar to those of iron and nickel, are present in all horses and are not considered to be harmful. It can be found in many horse feeds and vitamin supplements. However, according to Dr. Palmer, there is no therapeutic reason to administer large doses of cobalt to horses. Administration of high doses of cobalt salts to horses has the potential to enhance athletic performance in a manner similar to blood doping agents and can cause detrimental effects on a number of body systems, including tachycardia, hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias. The Commission’s rules mandate that any Standardbred trainer whose horse is found to have cobalt levels at more than 50 ng/ml in plasma is considered to be in violation and subject to applicable penalties (rule 4120.3(a)(4)). The Commission rules further mandate that any trainer whose horse is found to have cobalt levels at more than 300 ng/ml is to receive a 10-year suspension, plus whatever other penalties are appropriate (rules 4120.3(c) and 4120.17(d)(2)). Tyler J. Nostadt raced five horses at Yonkers and Monticello in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt: · Monticello, March 15; “JJ Romero;” cobalt blood concentration of 374 ng/ml on race day · Monticello, March 15; “Omaha Survivor;” cobalt blood concentration of 376 ng/ml on race day · Yonkers, March 24; “Knocking Around;” cobalt blood concentration of 361 ng/ml on race day · Yonkers, March 24; “Firstclassflight;” cobalt blood concentration of 819 ng/ml on race day · Yonkers, March 24; “Magic Manny;” cobalt blood concentration of 661 ng/ml on race day Nostadt is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces a 10-year license suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine per incident. Joseph Carrubba raced one horse at Saratoga Casino and Raceway and subsequently attempted to race it and another horse in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt: · March 4; “Our Angel Hayleigh;” cobalt blood concentration of 497 ng/ml on race day · March 22; “Our Angel Hayleigh;” cobalt blood concentration of 1179 ng/ml (out-of-competition test); horse was scratched · March 22; “Post Time Terror;” cobalt blood level 604 ng/ml (out-of-competition test); horse was scratched Carrubba is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces a 10-year license suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the race day violation and additional suspension, revocation and fines for the out-of-competition violations. Dennis M. Washington raced “Baltimor AS” at Monticello on March 16 with a cobalt blood level of 1195 ng/ml on race day in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt. Washington is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces a 10-year license suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the violation. Sean M. Campbell raced five horses at Monticello and Yonkers in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt: · March 14, Monticello; “H.D. Maibach;” cobalt blood level 162 ng/ml on race day · March 15, Monticello; “HD’s Dream Boy;” cobalt blood level 95 ng/ml on race day · March 21, Yonkers; “HD’s Dream Boy;” cobalt blood level 185 ng/ml on race day · March 22, Monticello; “Fly By Ry;” cobalt blood level 126 ng/ml on race day · March 23, Monticello; “HD Lucas;” cobalt blood level 85 ng/ml on race day Campbell is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, he faces further suspension or revocation and $25,000 fines for each violation. Megan M. Gilmour raced “Slam Dunk Hanover” at Monticello on March 17 with a cobalt blood level of 169 ng/ml on race day in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt. Further investigation revealed other evidence that horses she was training and racing had been administered excessive amounts of cobalt. Gilmour is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, she faces further suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the violation. Dawn M. DeVaux raced “Southwind Ike” at Monticello on March 22 with a cobalt blood level of 289 ng/ml on race day in violation of the Commission’s rule in regard to cobalt. DeVaux is summarily suspended, effective immediately. Per Commission rules, she faces further suspension or revocation and a $25,000 fine for the violation. Additionally, the Commission continues to investigate the circumstances of more than 30 post-race samples with elevated levels of the alkaloid glaucine in Standardbred racehorses. This investigation includes researching claims of environmental contamination. Should the New York State Equine Drug Testing Laboratory’s research determine that glaucine was administered intentionally to harness horses, the Commission will take significant action against those involved. As with all cases where equine drug violations occur: · All affected horses have been disqualified and must test “clean” before racing again. · The Commission has ordered the owners of these horses to return any purses won in these races. “The Commission’s mission to preserve the integrity of New York’s horse racing continues unabated,” said Williams. “We will continue to use all tools necessary, including state-of-the-art race day and out-of-competition testing, surveillance and intelligence-gathering to rid our sport of those who cheat and jeopardize the welfare of horses.” Each trainer will be provided with a prompt hearing and opportunity to present a defense to the charges. Hearings are conducted de novo and final agency action will be based on the evidence presented at each hearing. From Rick Karlin from the Capital Bureau

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board has formed the NY State Task Force on Retired Racehorses and held a Summit on the topic at the Fasig Tipton Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, NY on September 1st. There were five panels comprised of representatives of the NY Racing Assoc.; Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance; Thoroughbred Charities of America; several racetracks; several horsesmens associations; the NY State Racing and Wagering Board; horse adoption programs; and the United States Trotting Association (USTA).   The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF), Sunshine Horses, Jeff Gural, and the USTA spoke in the early afternoon after digesting the massive efforts the Thoroughbred industry has implemented and the hefty funding charities receive from the industry. Monies raised from percentages, and dollar amounts of mandatory and voluntary contributions from starting fees, jockey fees, purses, and contributions fund the numerous programs.   The Thoroughbred typically has a market after racing, as they are popular in the riding arena, whereas, the Standardbred does not. SRF noted that the average time a Standardbred horse will last in an adoptive home is just 3.3 years and that should trigger a warning to the charities to do follow-up. None of the charities receiving funds have an active follow-up program for Standardbreds; SRF and Sunshine horses do, however, neither receive funds from these initiatives. "We need to make sure we are doing the right thing," said Judy Bokman, SRF's Executive Director. "Maybe the Thoroughbred is more popular as a riding companion and there is not as great a concern for their long-term well being in a home, but for the Standardbred, I keep thinking about what a veterinarian once said to me, "I am not helping any charity that takes horses from the track to avoid a trip to slaughter only to starve in backyards."   It was belittling to follow the talk of the initiatives the Thoroughbred industry has taken when the Standardbred industry has done so little. Jeff Gural sees a solution as slots generate 180 million dollars in NYS each year, "A small percent would solve the problem." Funding was one of the things the Standardbred charities noted as a challenge, the lack of good homes, locations for retired horses to be boarded reasonably to live out their lives, and other locations for the adoption program to operate from were others.   Some horses will find a forever home with all these wonderful strides being made, and the efforts deserve great applause, but there are two items left unsolved. One is helping the unadoptable ones, as it was noted that only adoptable horses receive help, and what to do in time when these horses age in their adopted homes and are no longer wanted. Standardbred Retirement Foundation | 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite 101 | Millstone Twp. | NJ | 08535

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

On October 22, 2013, the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, agreed to hear the  harness horsemen's appeal challenging the state's out-of-competition testing regulations. The court determined that the appeal was as a matter of right.   In August 2011, a Supreme Court Justice in Schenectady, New York determined in Ford et al. v. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board that the regulations were unconstitutional, devoid of due process, were arbitrary and capricious and “so lacking in reason as to require nullification in their entirety.”  In July 2013, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, sitting in Albany, reversed parts of the Schenectady judge's decision. The Court of Appeals will now issue the final ruling as to the legality and enforceability of the rules as they relate to Standardbred racing.   Joseph Faraldo, President of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, one of the petitioners in the lawsuit, commented, "Like the United States Supreme Court, New York's Court of Appeals hears only a very small fraction of the cases presented to it for appeal each year. We are heartened that the court will hear our arguments against the rules in 2014. From the time this process started several years ago, we have always maintained two things. One is that while we need rational and reasonable out-of-competition rules that catch and punish cheaters, we also need to ensure that the innocent are not ensnared in an indiscriminate dragnet. The other is that the rules promulgated over our strenuous and repeated objections are neither rational nor reasonable; are unconstitutional and, in some instances, would actually assist the cheaters to escape scrutiny and justice. We are confident that after our arguments are heard, the high court will reinstate the reasoned decision of the Schenectady Supreme Court."   In addition to the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the petitioners are USTA director Mark Ford, SOA director and USTA district chairman John Brennan, veteran horseman Richard Banca, Sr. and retired SOA executive director George Casale.   The Petitioners have been represented throughout the proceedings by Andrew J. Turro, Esq. of the law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klien, P.C.   Submitted by the SOA of New York  

The Empire State Harness Horsemen's Alliance group (ESHHA) has sent a letter of objection to John Googas of the New York State Racing Commission, protesting the implimenation of the proposed Commission regulations for harness racing in the state. To view the letter click below: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/2/?ui=2&ik=eae551e2fe&view=att&th=1419de8f60c7c0fd&attid=0.1&disp=safe&zw

When the Governor and the Legislature started discussing efforts last year to expand casino gaming in New York, the state's horse racing and agriculture communities immediately knew they needed to make their voices heard in the debate.

The 'loss leader' is a concept that has been used in business forever. Basically, a product is offered at a price that generates no profit for the sake of generating increased activity. So, if you make a million dollars in sales, but your production costs are a million, you really haven't accomplished a whole heck of a lot.

Passionate New York harness racing blogger and Harnesslink correspondent, Allan Schott believes Lou Pena's win in the New York Supreme Court on Wednesday can be best described as a temporary victory as the decision was not made on the merits of the case, but on technical issues.

It's been 279 days since controversial California harness racing trainer Lou Pena last lined up a horse on race-day. One day after being granted permission to train and own standardbreds again Pena is now seriously thinking about switching codes.

Controversial North American harness racing trainer Lou Pena can train and own racehorses again. The 44-year-old had his licence reinstated today (Wednesday February 27) by the New York Gaming Commission.

In an attempt to reach out directly to racing fans and gather information about their concerns, the New York Racing Fans Advisory Council conducted three public forums during 2012 at Aqueduct, Saratoga Race Course and Yonkers Raceway.

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board today announced the continuation of online video streaming of Thoroughbred and harness racing in New York state throughout the 2013 calendar year.

Controversial Californian harness racing trainer Lou Pena says he has nothing to fear except the egos of well paid men dressed in rich suits who work for the New York State Racing & Wagering Board.

A closer look at the eight New York Sire Stakes divisional leaders and their biggest threats in the harness racing $1.8 million Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway September 22nd (third of eight parts).

'There are better days ahead. I feel really good about the hearing - confident even. It went well. I have a smile on my face now'. Those were the very words from controversial American harness racing trainer Lou Pena following his three-day trial in New York on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week (August 29-31).

With New York's racetrack video lottery terminal operators looking to become full-blown casino destinations, a new player in the crowded market is asking regulators for the eighth and final harness racing racetrack license in the state.

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