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Coral Springs, FL – It has been revealed to that the Isle Casino and Racing at Pompano Park has hired Brett Revington as the new Director of Racing. Revington hails from Prince Edward Island in Canada where he was the former Racing Manager for Red Shores, which runs both Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside Raceway. His duties there also included being the cage and count manager and overseeing the facility and maintenance. Prior to working at Red Shores, Revington was the Assistant Race Manager at Western Fair Raceway and for six years was the Stakes Manager at Woodbine Entertainment Group. He is also a licensed Associate Judge and worked for the Ontario Racing Commission where he was responsible for rule enforcement and hearing adjudication. Revington was voted as a Director of the Atlantic Region to the Standardbred Canada Board, serving for four years. A 1997 graduate of the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Revington also attended Fanshawe College with accreditation in their Canadian Securities Course. Before working full time in the Standardbred industry after graduation, Revington traveled overseas to manage a Domino’s Pizza chain in Dublin, Ireland. Revington will begin his new duties immediately. By Steve Wolf, for

The family of Wendy Hoogeveen has advised the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) that there will be a private family-only ceremony. They went on to say that, at an appropriate time, friends might gather in celebration of her life. The ORC will remain in touch with her family and will share these details as they unfold. This has clearly been a difficult time for Wendy’s family.  Please continue to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. The last few days also have been difficult for all those who worked with Wendy.  If industry members are comfortable doing so, please take the time to share your fond memories of Wendy. The ORC has opened a special email address. All comments will be shared privately with Wendy's family who no doubt will enjoy hearing the stories and memories that we have all experienced over our years.   Steven Lehman Executive Director  

It is with profound sadness that the Ontario Racing Commission announces that Wendy Hoogeveen passed away on Monday, August 4, 2014. Wendy worked for the Ontario Racing Commission for over 30 years ultimately holding the position of Director of Industry Development & Support. Her commitment and dedication to the horse racing industry were unparalleled and we are grateful for her contributions. She was one of the most passionate supporters of horse racing in addition to being one of the most knowledgeable. She will be greatly missed by both ORC staff and industry participants. At this time, information regarding the arrangements is not available however the ORC will share them as they become available. For the official Notice, please click on the following link: From the Ontartio Racing Commission

DEL MAR, CA - North American racing regulators have decided to consider the results of two scientific research studies that have been commissioned to help detect the deliberate administration of cobalt in racehorses before making a formal recommendation of a regulatory testing limit to commission testing. At the RCI Model Rules Committee meeting last week, a proposed threshold was presented and later withdrawn by representatives of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) pending further discussion by the RMTC Board of Directors. That threshold, which is based on an analysis of an RMTC-coordinated project that is funded by the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and conducted by Dr. Heather Knych, an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, was advanced with the support of 8 of the 14 members of the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee. A second research project, funded by the United States Trotting Association (USTA), is near completion according to remarks made at the meeting by Ivan Axelrod, Chairman of the USTA. That project is being conducted by George Maylin, DVM, PhD, at the New York Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College in New York. He is assisted by Karyn Malinowski, PhD, and Kenneth McKeever, MS, PhD, FACSM, the Director and Associate Director, respectively, of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Racing regulators are concerned that cobalt treatments may be given to racehorses with an intent to affect performance by inducing red blood cell production similar to the prohibited use of erythropoietin (EPO). All horses have some degree of cobalt in their system as a result of diet and environmental factors. Excessive amounts may indicate a deliberate administration, above and beyond what would be considered appropriate or normal for vitamin or mineral supplements. Concerns have been raised about horses with extremely elevated levels of cobalt and regulators are eager to better understand if an equine welfare threat exists. In 2009, the Ontario Racing Commission issued a notice from then-Veterinary Supervisor, Dr. Bruce Duncan, who noted that "when administered in appropriate quantities, there is likely very little performance benefit. And when used in excess, this element can be toxic to horses." The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) has issued the following notice to horsemen and veterinarians: "Cobalt toxicity has been associated with myocardial (heart muscle) and other organ pathology in humans and other animals. High cobalt levels have been associated with the parenteral or oral administration of cobalt salts. While there is no documented evidence of cobalt toxicity in racehorses, the CHRB considers the administration of cobalt salts a potential equine health and safety issue." But the New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station at Rutgers University indicates on their website the following: "High blood cobalt probably would indicate high doses of B-12 being given (the trace mineral is easier to test than the actual vitamin). The calming effect would be undesirable in a racehorse. It is virtually non-toxic and rapidly excreted through the kidneys if given in large doses, so there is no negative consequence other than possibly a quieter horse. It is recommended to give B-12 to stressed horses at around 30 microgram/kg of feed. There are no requirements for cobalt established for horses so it is uncertain what normal or excessive blood concentrations of cobalt would be. The National Research Council (2007) has set the maximum tolerable intake for cobalt to be 25 mg/kg (ppm) in the total ration but admits they base that decision on data from other species. There is no indication that horses on normal rations need supplemental cobalt." In addition, Dr. Dionne Benson, Executive Director of the RMTC, reiterated statements at last week's meeting that she has previously made to the press indicating that it is unclear at what point cobalt can become toxic to a horse. The RCI Board of Directors discussed whether to handle findings of excessive levels of cobalt indicating a deliberate administration of cobalt absent a documented deficiency and veterinarian prescribed treatment as "horse tampering". "It's one thing for a horse to be treated for a condition by its veterinarian, but quite another to be tampered with prior to a race," RCI President Ed Martin said. "Tampering is bad enough, but if we find that the tampering endangers the horse, then it's time to throw the book at someone." Although the RMTC-proposed threshold was withdrawn, a number of regulators had lingering questions as to the extent that data from Standardbred horses was included in their recommendation. Duncan Patterson, Chairman of RCI's Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, recommended that the association consider the two studies before adopting a formal recommendation to commissions and laboratories. by Steve May for the Association of Racing Commissioners International  

The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) is pleased to announce the approval of the revised allocations of the Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction (PMTR) to support and encourage the horse racing industry in Ontario. This is in keeping with the ORC's mandate to implement the components of the 5-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan (HRPP), as approved by the Ontario government. To view the report click here. From the Ontario Racing Commission    

In accordance with Section 25 of the Racing Commission Act, 2000, the Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has conditionally cancelled Sudbury Downs' ORC licence effective June 30, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. There are certain financial terms and conditions that Sudbury Downs must meet before the licence is cancelled. For more information, please review the Notice posted on the ORC website by clicking here. Ontario Racing Commission  

As one of the conditions set by the Director regarding the cancellation of Sudbury Downs' ORC licence, the Director has ordered that all Sudbury purse monies be forwarded to the ORC to be held in trust for the Standardbred Horsepeople. For more information, please review the Notice posted on the ORC website by clicking here. From the Ontario Racing Commission  

Toronto, ON – From London, Ontario to London, England, from the Thoroughbred Melbourne Cup to the Standardbred North American Cup - horse racing is truly an international sport -- and one of the most regulated sports in the world. Equine athletes are tested more than most human athletes.    While Ontario has rigid standards locally, illegitimate operators have crossed jurisdictional borders easily through the internet and negatively impacted the fairness of the sport.    That will change significantly starting next month and it’s the same internet that will make it even tougher to ply their illegal trade.   Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes.   The International Racing Information and Intelligence Service (IRIIS) will officially launch July 1st, and its origins started right here in Ontario. IRIIS is a secure internet platform that will allow international racing jurisdictions to share intelligence information, collaborate and capitalize on the industry’s expertise and best practices.    The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and Harness Racing Australia, the key organizers of IRIIS, have collaborated with racing regulators and strategic partners from Canada, the United States, Belgium, Great Britain, South Africa, and Sweden. It is anticipated other racing jurisdictions will join and contribute to the platform.    ORC Deputy Director Rob McKinney said that IRIIS is an innovative system where members – industry regulators, law enforcement agencies and industry organizations -- will have access to and share intelligence information on a wide range of topics, such as performance and image enhancing drugs like EPO, race fixing, and organized crime. “We need to be proactive and one step ahead of illegal activity, so that we can prepare risk and threat assessments on a jurisdictional, regional and/or international level.”    Here’s a recent example of actionable intelligence which demonstrates how IRIIS works:    Ontario shared the intelligence it had gathered with respect to a particular drug and its alleged performance enhancing benefit. The ORC information included recommendations on how to collect a sample and analyze the results. The data prompted another international racing jurisdiction to conduct post-race tests for the same drug. The result: a positive test which led to regulatory action against the participant.    From Rob McKinney, Deputy Director ORC 

Racing Under Saddle is an innovative new concept in harness racing in Canada, and the schedule for the racing under saddle season has been finalized and will be an exciting season for riders, horses, the bettor, and the general public at large. The Ontario Racing Commission has approved wagering with Standardbred Canada setting the standards for equipment and riders. There will be ten scheduled races at seven tracks from July 1 at Mohawk Racetrack to October 1 at The Raceway at Western Fair District. The first race will be held at Mohawk Racetrack on July 1 and the invitational trot will be carded as “Trot For The Cure” in conjunction with a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. After a stop in Clinton for a Sunday afternoon tilt on July 13, which will be the first RUS event that bettors will be able to wager on, comes the first signature event of the RUS season. On July 26 there will be the first half of Norway versus Canada as part the eliminations of the Balanced Image at Hanover Raceway with the second half being held at Grand River Raceway on August 1. Three days later, as part of the Battle Of Waterloo, RUS Ontario will hold an international race featuring riders from Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United States and host Canada. This event will strive to be an annual event in Canada growing with world popularity. On July 19, Georgian Downs will play host to RUS, and on August 29 Mohawk will play host to a second RUS invitational trot, as a prelude to the Canadian Trotting Classic card on September 13. The last invitational trot will be hosted at Mohawk Racetrack. Flamboro Downs will play host to RUS on September 20 and The Raceway at Western Fair District will close out the season with a race on its opening night card on October 1. RUS would like to thank the management at all Ontario tracks for the support and cooperation shown to racing under saddle for this inaugural season as an entity of the Ontario racing scene. Please come out and support racing under saddle and enjoy the excitement of Ontario racing. For further information on sponsorships of races or riders, please contact Julie Walker at (519) 379-7244 or by e-mail at For the website click here. From RUS Ontario

LEXINGTON, KY - Lexington, KY - RCI President Ed Martin called the news that the United States Trotting Association (USTA) will fund research into cobalt and help the New York drug testing program gain access to equipment currently in use elsewhere by racing's leading testing labs a "positive, proactive development that underscores the ongoing efforts of the racing industry and its regulator labs to counter efforts to cheat". A number of racing states have already been testing for cobalt, both in and out of competition, using advanced ICP-MS instrumentation. (ICP-MS is the acronym for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer). Such instrumentation is commonly found in toxicology and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to detect metal poisoning in livestock (e.g., lead in cattle). Recent concerns about possible attempts to administer cobalt to affect performance have prompted several regulatory jurisdictions to quietly commence efforts in this area. Commissions have been collecting samples for months. A research project being conducted by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium is scheduled for completion this summer to determine an appropriate threshold for cobalt. Cobalt is a naturally occurring substance in the bodies of all mammals as well as being found in the environment. "The challenge is to determine what is an appropriate and normal level and the point in which it can be proven that cobalt levels had been deliberately manipulated in an attempt to affect performance," said Martin. Martin noted that deliberate administrations of cobalt could potentially harm a horse, if used in excess. In 2009, the Ontario Racing Commission issued the following notice: "The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) advises horsepeople to be very cautious with the administration of the substance cobalt sulphate to their horses. This mineral element is a water-soluble cobalt salt with a variety of industrial and agricultural uses, including being used as an ingredient in feed and mineral supplements. "Used in safe and appropriate formulations, the substance is known to have certain blood building qualities. However, speculation about 'performance enhancing' qualities are doubtful." The ORC's then Veterinarian Supervisor, Dr. Bruce Duncan, noted that "when administered in appropriate quantities, there is likely very little performance benefit. And when used in excess, this element can be toxic to horses." Cobalt is a constituent of vitamin B-12, and as a result, there is no recommended dietary allowance for it. Cobalt is one of the microminerals important for blood cell formation. The microbes in a horse's digestive system, particularly the large intestine, use the cobalt from a normal diet to incorporate it into Vitamin B-12. This vitamin is then used in conjunction with iron and copper in the formation and maintenance of blood cells. Although the USTA funded Maylin-McKeever-Malinowski research project may appear redundant to the effort currently underway by the RMTC, RCI's Martin said that "the more data is developed, our efforts to analyze the science and develop sound policies is enhanced." by Steve May for RCI

Renowned harness racing driver Jody Jamieson had a positive test for the presences of cocaine and is currently serving an immediate suspension for 15 days. The suspension comes at the worst of times as Jamieson was scheduled to drive the 2013 Dan Patch Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year, He’s Watching, on Saturday in the $1 million North America Cup at Mohawk Raceway in Campbellsville, Ontario, which Jamieson has won twice in the past. Tim Tetrick is now listed to drive the horse. Jamieson, age 38, last drove on Saturday, June 7 at Mohawk Raceway. He was taken off all his drives on Monday and Tuesday at Mohawk Raceway and is not listed to drive anywhere else henceforth. An Ontario Racing Commission official Tuesday afternoon confirmed the suspension but said they would not comment on any details pertaining to Jody Jamieson’s suspension pending a final investigation. According to Standardbred Canada, Jody Jamieson has 6,871 career wins and purse earnings by the horses he has driven are at just over $100 million. Despite repeated tries, Jody Jamieson was unavailable for comment. By Steve Wolf, for

The Ontario Racing Commission has released a Notice to the Industry announcing the decision to approve the schedule of 2014 race dates for Kawartha Downs and Dresden Raceway. This announcement brings the total of 2014 approved race dates to 939 across Quarter-Horse, Thoroughbred and Standardbred breeds. In addition the Director approved September 1 as a make-up date for Rideau Carleton Raceway (RCR). During the 2013-2014 period, RCR cancelled two race dates: January 14 and March 20, where no races were run due to unsafe track conditions. The Transfer Payment Agreement with government allows for one cancellation during the period of the contract, leaving one cancelled race date that RCR had to make-up. To read the rest of this story and view the race calendars click here.

Announcements were made Monday afternoon that signified good news for horsemen awaiting race dates in the Sarnia area and a bombshell of disappointment for Northern Ontario's harness racing season. On Monday, May 26, the Ontario Racing Commission announced that it has approved 21 race dates for Hiawatha Horse Park’s 2014 season of live harness racing. Hiawatha Horse Park, located in Sarnia, will hold its first live date on Saturday, June 28. From there, the track will host programs of live racing every Thursday and Saturday until September 6. First-race post time for Hiawatha’s programs will be 6:30 p.m. To view a race date calendar for the 2014 season at Hiawatha, click here. Shortly thereafter, a press release was received from Sudbury Downs indicating that the track could not reach a deal with the province and thus will not hold live harness racing in 2014. The official release from Sudbury Downs follows. We have today advised the Ontario Racing Commission that, because of the lack of a commitment from the Province to provide adequate funding, there will be no live racing at Sudbury Downs in 2014. Race dates scheduled for June have been cancelled and further cancellations will be implemented as required. After cancelling the highly successful Slots At Racetracks partnership in 2013 that generated substantial revenue for the provincial horse racing industry, the Province of Ontario has dedicated $500 million of public funding over the next five years to support the provincial horse racing industry. These funds will be allocated to various parts of the horse racing industry by the provincial regulator, the Ontario Racing Commission. Despite extensive efforts over the last six months, Sudbury Downs has been unable to secure an agreement with the Province to allocate a reasonable share of the committed provincial funding, to the horse racing industry in northern Ontario. While the Province has offered to provide some funding for northern racing for the next five years, the level of support proposed is grossly inadequate and represents approximately 1% of the funding provided to the whole industry. Sudbury Downs has provided its detailed operating costs and revenues to the provincial regulator and has offered to conduct its racing operations on a “Not For Profit” basis that would be subject to provincial monitoring and audit. We are not prepared to incur substantial operating losses for the next five years. Our offer has not been accepted by the provincial regulator. The province, through the Ontario Racing Commission, has failed to recognize the unique circumstances and challenges faced by the horse racing industry in northern Ontario. As the only racetrack in northern Ontario, Sudbury Downs is isolated from the bulk of the horse racing industry in southern Ontario, and is truly a regional racetrack that must singularly provide for the needs of the northern industry. Similarly, northern horsepeople do not have the same flexibility or options as their southern Ontario counterparts. A funding model for horse racing in the southern part of the province where there are 15 racetracks in relatively close proximity, is not necessarily appropriate for northern Ontario. The Ontario Racing Commission has also taken away, without compensation, Sudbury Downs’ off-track betting rights in northern Ontario. Off-track betting across the north provided significant income to help offset track operating costs and to provide purse funds for the horsepeople. The Ontario Racing Commission has now ordered that these revenues from northern Ontario wagering go directly to the racetracks in southern Ontario. Sudbury Downs sincerely regrets that, after 40 years of operating live horseracing, we must now terminate this part of our business. The loss of approximately 100 full time equivalent jobs in the local horse racing industry will have negative consequences for our local economy today and into the future. We thank all our dedicated horsepeople, racing employees and fans for their participation over the last 40 years. From Ontario Racing Commission and Sudbury Downs

In November 2013, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) launched a pilot project allowing for the collection of Official (blood) samples at the same time as TCO2 samples. The pilot has been operating at The Raceway at Western Fair District. The combined testing pilot will be completed on May 19, 2014. Here is the notice that was sent out. In November 2013, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) launched a pilot project allowing for the collection of Official (blood) samples at the same time as TCO2 samples. The pilot has been operating at The Raceway at Western Fair District. The combined testing pilot will be completed on May 19, 2014. For the remainder of the race dates at the Raceway at Western Fair District, a number of additional efficiencies will be made to the testing programs. During this time, your horse may be required to produce a pre-race or post-race Official sample. Racing Forensics staff will be distributing brief surveys to participants during the remaining race dates. The responses to the survey questions will assist in the evaluation of the pilot. The ORC, CPMA and Racing Forensics would like to thank all participants for their cooperation throughout the pilot project period. For any inquiries please contact ORC Judge Rob McKay (905) 379-7341 (ORC) or Dr. Adam Chambers (289) 339-3836 (CPMA). From Rob McKinney, for Ontario Racing Commission      

In Ontario harness racing as with every sport, there are people who are responsible for ensuring fair play and sound judgment. Most sports refer to these folks as referees however in horse racing, the dedicated individuals responsible for vital decision making are known as Judges. The Judges work for the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC), which governs horse racing industry throughout the province, which includes all three breeds of race horses; Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses. Having the opportunity to speak with the Judges brought a lot of insight into the steps taken each and every race night to ensure the public and horsemen are all treated with respect, integrity and fairness. At Woodbine Racetrack, (Toronto, ON) there are 3 judges located in the grandstand for harness racing, as well as an official located in the paddock. The Judges arrive at the tracks' back office two and half hours prior to post time and this is standard for all race tracks including Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses. The three Judges that were kind enough to take time out to go over their routine were Craig Walker (11 years with the ORC) who is the Senior Judge or Presiding judge on site, Tom Miller (19 years with the ORC) and David Stewart Jr. (6 years with the ORC). All three judges have history as horsemen, from driving, training and owning or from past experience such as working in race offices. Their experience and insight is what enables them to know what to anticipate in every situation. The Judges of the ORC rotate from track to track and the teams are constantly changing to keep things fresh. Also the judges switch from Standardbreds to Thoroughbreds to Quarter horses routinely so their knowledge of rules and regulations for each breed stays up to speed. "Our first order of business is to go over the program, the changes, driver changes, scratches and any other pertinent information such as equipment changes" explains Craig. "We go through all of the horses' lines to ensure everything is okay in terms of eligibility." Prior to the start of the first race, there are times where the Judges may call in a driver if there is an infraction to be discussed from a previous date. If a horseman is called in due to a horses' positive test result, the horseman is entitled to bring in legal representation to discuss the matter. The Judges base their decisions on as much information possible; this way everyone has their fair chance to explain their circumstance prior to any fines or suspension being issued. "They have a right to appeal any decision made by the Judges." explains Craig. "Their right is to appeal that decision to the Ontario Racing Commission itself and in that case we would be witnesses for the administration." Were you aware Judges are not allowed to have any ownership in a race horse? Nor can their spouse and if by chance a Judge knows someone who does own a race horse, that Judge must excuse themselves from taking any part in a race that horse is involved in. By the Judge excusing him or herself from being an active participant in such a race, this negates any potential bias and maintains that each and every race is ruled free of prejudice. The same judge must fill out a conflict of interest form in advance of the race to create transparency and openness. These forms are kept on file with the ORC. An ORC Judge or their spouse cannot bet on any races in Ontario, regardless if it is at another race track. They cannot bet on any race simulcast into the province, it doesn't matter if that race is in another province, country or continent. The job can be stressful at times, considering that decisions made can have an impact on purse winnings and countless people. Can you imagine having to make a decision involving a half million dollar race such as the Breeders Crown? What if the winning driver of the Breeders Crown made an infraction causing an inquiry and it was a decision you had to make to place the winning driver second or third based on that infraction? That's a quarter million dollar decision affecting the connections involved not to mention the betting public. That is why the Judges always stick to the rule book and do not allow emotions to cloud their judgment. "You have nights where everything goes smoothly, there are no inquiries and some nights can be what you call stressful" says David. Such nights do happen but the Judges do enjoy their jobs, like watching competitive races. "It doesn't have to be a Stake race, we had a race here last night where there were five or six horses right across the wire and we all made a comment 'what a good race' that was." Tom says. "There were a couple last night" Dave adds. "It's a good finish and it is good for the crowd. We can hear people outside yelling, screaming and cheering their horse on. That's always a good thing." Once the race commences, each Judge has a separate task up in the grandstand. One Judge is in communication with the starter and one Judge is focused on the mutuals ensuring the finishing order posted is correct on the tote board. The third Judge is communication with the paddock in the event the Judges need to speak with a driver. In the Judges' room in the grandstand, there is a massive screen which has the feeds from five different camera angles. In the event of an inquiry or objection, the Judges can rewind and look at the race from these feeds to determine the outcome. As the starting car pulls away from the field and the horses charge forward, the Judges are intensely watching the race, calling out a horse's number when they see a horse break stride. As the field comes down the stretch each Judge is also writing down the order of finish, confirming with one another to ensure they are all on the same page. "We all write down the numbers as we think they crossed the finish line." Craig says. "If it's really tight, the only way we are going to verify is with the photo finish (screen). It's instantaneous and as they cross it's recorded and we see it here on screen." There are two employees in a separate room who oversee the video feeds and the photo finish. The employee in charge of the video communicates via phone and the employee who mans the photo finish communicates via intercom. "If there is a malfunction with the feeds, our decision is final." Craig says. This is according to the ORC rule book. "After the race if there is no inquiry, the routine is always the same. We comeback and we are going to watch replays of the stretch numerous times." Craig continues, "We are making sure everyone is staying in a straight line or trying to stay in a straight line. Another thing we are looking for is the use of the whip, making sure everyone is complying with the rules of the whip. (The driver's) feet must be in the stirrups." Once the finishing order is confirmed, the Judge in charge of mutuals informs an official in another room of the top four and that official then calls to have those numbers posted on the tote board. The same Judge in charge of mutuals calls the tote department to confirm the order of finish and the tote department then posts the payouts. (The same official who is in charge of calling in the numbers to be posted on the tote board is also in charge of calling to have the inquiry sign posted if the Judges determine an inquiry is needed). "After the race is official, then we do the official run down of the order of finish." Craig says. In this case, the Judges are confirming the order one through ten. If a horse broke stride at any point, this is noted in the race line by one of the Judges and this is what you will see in the program the next time the same horse races. You will see where the Judges noted with an 'X' where the horse broke stride in the race. If a horse broke stride in two consecutive races, the Judges will inform the connections for that horse that they will need to put that horse in a qualifying race to show the horse is able to race at full stride. Only then will that horse be able to race competitively again. While all of this is going on, one of the Judges is calling down to have two horses tested. Usually it is the winner and one other horse, for example it could be a horse that either did way better than anticipated or didn't compete as well as expected. Especially if it is a 1-5 favorite who finished sluggishly, which means there was a lot of public backing and the officials want to maintain nothing out of the ordinary is going on. "The rules don't say we have to test the winner" explains Tom. "I feel the patrons would want to know the integrity of that winner, we tested that winner and the integrity of that mile is there. We know the horse didn't have any drugs in its system." The two biggest takeaways I have is that communication is vital for the Judges and following the routine is what ensures transparency. If a horse is required to be at the paddock by a certain time and it is a minute late, it's scratched. Sure the Judges can understand traffic can be an issue, but if one rule is not enforced at any point, the result will be a can of worms being opened. Everyone gets treated the same, no ifs ands or buts. It's tough, but sound. "We do not take any pride or pleasure is scratching horses" states Tom. "The more the merrier but sometimes with situations of being a few minutes late, it's tough to do our job but we have to be consistent with everybody. The horsemen want to know we are always going to do it the same so they know what to expect. This way when the same situation happens they are aware of what the result will be." Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin or Twitter: ScSupernova    

The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) notes that the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission has issued a release confirming a case of neurological Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) at Assiniboia Downs, a racetrack located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The ORC is closely monitoring the situation. While the quarantine at Assiniboia is in effect, trainers of horses that have been on the grounds of this track since April 15, and considering shipping horses to Woodbine or Fort Erie, must first contact the Official Vet at Woodbine or Ft. Erie. Dr. Adam Chambers, Manager of Veterinary Services      

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