A local harness racing trainer who injected a racehorse with performance-enhancing drugs in 2010, then was caught six weeks later intending to do it again, has been fined $3,750 and is “branded with the scarlet letter of a cheat,” the prosecutor in the case said Friday. Derek Riesberry’s convictions for fraud over $5,000 and attempted fraud over $5,000 mark the first time in Canada horse doping was prosecuted criminally, instead of having regulatory agencies such as the Ontario Racing Commission hand out fines and suspensions. Riesberry, 46, now carries a criminal record, noted assistant Crown attorney Brian Manarin, speaking at the end of a 5½-year legal odyssey that took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. “He’s been branded with the scarlet letter of a cheat, which is a terrible thing,” he said. “He’s going to have to do a lot of things to make amends for shooting up a horse with a performance-enhancing drug.” Manarin said there’s a difference between cyclist Lance Armstrong using performance-enhancing drugs and Riesberry injecting them into a horse, Everyone’s Fantasy, before it ran in Race 6 on Sept. 28, 2010, at Windsor Raceway. “The horse has no choice,” said Manarin. The horse was a defenceless victim in the hands of an unscrupulous trainer, Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin said as he passed sentence — a $2,500 fine for the fraud (injecting a horse) and $1,250 for attempted fraud (being caught with drug-filled syringes). People bet $12,746 on Race 6. Though Everyone’s Fantasy was injected with the drugs prior to the race, it finished in sixth place, out of the money. On Nov. 7, 2010, Riesberry was intending to inject another horse, Good Long Life, but was caught before he had the chance. The horse was scratched from Race 3. The public placed bets totalling $11,758. Horse doping threatens the horse industry’s reputation and sends the public to other forms of gaming, Hugh Mitchell, the CEO of Western Fair and a longtime horse racing executive, said in an impact statement to the court. “It’s imperative the bettors always feel they are betting on a fair and ethical product,” he said. “Those who threaten (the industry’s) future through fraudulent practices must be held accountable.” Mitchell said he’s seen the “deplorable” effects of drug abuse on horses. “These horses are strong, beautiful, loyal animals and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” Riesberry’s licence is suspended. He has been working on a local farm, taking home $465 a week. His lawyer Andrew Bradie said his client has no intention of ever getting back in the business. “I believe he realizes he made a mistake and shouldn’t have done it and he’ll never do it again,” Bradie said outside the courthouse. Speaking to the Star’s Nick Brancaccio as he left the courthouse, Riesberry said: “It’s over with, glad to be done and I’m moving forward with my life.” Both sides in this case thought the fine was fair. Riesberry had no previous criminal record, and he had no record of problems with the racing commission. Though he made a serious error in judgment, he shouldn’t go to jail, Manarin said. “But he should get a criminal record, which is what he got.” Manarin said the decision to go after Riesberry criminally was made in 2010 at the request of the OPP. Officers who investigated the horse doping told him that some of the penalties imposed by the racing commission were not enough to deter people, Manarin said. Now that Riesberry is convicted, “we’ll just see how it shakes out with respect to less or more cheating in the industry.” A second local trainer, Chris Haskell, is facing similar allegations, but his case has been delayed while awaiting the outcome of Riesberry’s case. Drugging horses to enhance their performance is animal abuse, Ontario Racing Commission CEO Jean Major said in an impact statement to the court. Not only is it cheating, but it also can injure the horse as well as endanger everyone else participating in a race, he said. “The offence has brought the integrity of horse racing into question,” he writes. “If allowed to continue without appropriate deterrents, such conduct could jeopardize the future of a multimillion-dollar sector of the Ontario economy.” by Brian Cross for The Windsor Star Reprinted with permission of The Windsor Star
Ontario Racing Commission has issued a Notice of Decision re: harness racing purse monies moving to OLG Including Sudbury monies forwarded to ORC in Trust for the Standardbred Horsepeople. On March15, 2016 the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) issued a Notice of Decision to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) regarding the transfer of Standardbred purse monies. The creation of a new horse racing division at OLG and amendments to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act, 1999, enabling the OLG to administer the 14 existing transfer payment agreements with Ontario racetracks originally signed by the ORC. As of March 15, 2016, the standardbred purse funds held in trust by ORC total $3,733,855.05. Among the clauses set out in a MOU signed by ORC and OLG: “that the funds shall be used only for standardbred purses, or to fund activities that will provide benefits to all or a sizeable portion of horsepeople.” The monies include the approximately $2.11 million in standardbred purses previously held by Sudbury Downs. On February 15, 2016 the ORC issued a Notice of Decision to MacRanald Enterprises Incorporated, the owner of Sudbury Downs ordering that the remaining funds in the Sudbury Downs Purse Account be forwarded to the ORC in Trust, as well as payment of outstanding regulatory fees, wagering levies and program charges. This matter was resolved to the satisfaction of the ORC and MacRanald Enterprises. Copies of the ORC Notice of Decision, as well as the MOU between the OLG and the ORC and AGCO are attached to this Notice. Please note any aggrieved party has the right to appeal this decision to the Commission, such appeal to be commenced within 15 days from the date of this Decision. Jean Major - Executive Director
With the drop in temperature, all members of the racing community need to be on the alert and take extra care of their horses in cold weather. The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has advised ORC Official Veterinarians and racing officials at all racetracks to remind participants to take the necessary steps to protect the animals. While race horses in Canada are conditioned to race in cold weather, trainers should adapt for cold weather practices. For example, don’t tie tongues in such a manner that they protrude from the mouth. Tongues are very susceptible to freezing when temperatures drop. As well, horses need to be warmed up adequately. Offering lukewarm water several times a day will counter any reluctance to drink ice-cold water, which can leave some horses dehydrated in winter. Any concerns about weather conditions impacting racing should be shared with horsepeople representatives, racing officials, track management and the Official Veterinarian. There is an established policy of allowing a trainer to scratch their horse should the trainer be concerned about the particular condition of the animal due to weather. The protection of the health and welfare of the horse is of paramount concern to the ORC and to members of the racing community. An effort to monitor the horse in weather extremes is in keeping with this mandate. Brent Stone Manager of Racing Ontario Racing Commission
The Ontario Racing Commission released its rulings in regard to appeals by harness racing horsemen Gerald Lilley, Craig Knude and Craig Yates. To read an official copy of the ORC ruling for Craig Knude, click here. To read an official copy of the ORC ruling for Gerald Lilley, click here. To read an official copy of the ORC ruling for Craig Yates, click here. Jacinth E. Chang Alloy Executive Assistant Ontario Racing Commission
At its meeting of December 18, 2015, the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) approved the revision to Penalty Guidelines for Equine Drug, TCO2, and Non-Therapeutic Drug Offences. To view the Guidelines click here.
Toronto, ON - Planning for Ontario's 2016 Standardbred Improvement Program (SIP), is complete, following approval of the budget and Program elements by the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission. The 2016 Program will feature a full season of restricted and stakes racing as well as substantial awards for breeders and stallion owners. To view the Notice for each Program in detail, please click on the following link: Standardbred Improvement Program For further information, please contact the Program Administrator at 416-213-1800.
The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) advises trainers and owners that Official Veterinarians will be conducting an enhanced examination of horses entered into upcoming premier events. This will commence with the Metro Pace and the Canadian Pacing Derby, held at Mohawk Racetrack on September 5, 2015. The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) advises trainers and owners that Official Veterinarians will be conducting an enhanced examination of horses entered into upcoming premier events. This will commence with the Metro Pace and the Canadian Pacing Derby, held at Mohawk Racetrack on September 5, 2015. “This is an enhancement of the ORC’s existing protocol for Official Veterinarian examination prior to standardbred racing,” said Dr. Bruce Duncan, Supervisor Commission Standardbred Veterinarians. “The health and welfare of the race horse and the safety of the participants are of paramount concern to the ORC and we believe the racing community supports these efforts.” He pointed out the ORC consulted with racetrack management, its own racing officials, as well as representatives of COSA. Trainers with entries in the Metro Pace and the Canadian Pacing Derby are requested to make their horses available for this hands-on pre-race veterinary examination a minimum of one hour before their horse’s post time. Lasix horses are required to be at the track four hours before post time, and will be examined within that timeframe. “We also ask that trainers not have any bandages or topical poultices, or liniments on the horse,” said Duncan. Applying this enhancement to other events is under active consideration. Further information will be made available when finalized. For more information: Dr Bruce Duncan Dr. Adam Chambers 416 213-0520 Rob McKinney Deputy Director
The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) issued a Notice to the Industry on June 3, 2015 advising that Ontario will begin testing for cobalt with a threshold of 50ng/ml in blood, as of August 1,2015. On July 24, 2015, a Notice to the Industry advised that trainers and owners can choose to have a claimed horse post-race tested for cobalt at their own expense. The attached amended Directive has been issued to provide clarity for this policy. Cobalt: Amended Directive Ontario Racing Commission
The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) issued a Notice to the Industry on June 3, 2015 advising that Ontario will begin testing for cobalt with a threshold of 50ng/ml in blood, as of August 1, 2015. Racing participants are reminded that all horses that have been selected to provide an Official Sample (blood), as defined by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA), will also be tested for cobalt. Once the CPMA has completed the official testing, the ORC will subject the sample to enhanced testing for the presence of cobalt. On July 17, 2015, Steve Suttie, Executive Director of the CPMA, wrote to ORC CEO and Executive Director Jean Major. The letter summarized the CPMA’s continuing research on cobalt and provides additional information to help racing participants make informed decisions on the use of cobalt in race horses. The ORC will also be implementing a policy which allows for trainers and owners to have a claimed horse post-race tested for cobalt at their own expense. If you wish to have a horse tested that you have claimed, please note that on the Official Claim Form Please note that if a claimed horse is found to have unacceptable levels of cobalt during an approved post-race test, the Judges/Stewards have the authority, at the option of the claimant, to rule a claim invalid. The ORC believes that cobalt testing is not only a matter related to the integrity of horse racing but more importantly an animal welfare issue. When administered in appropriate quantities, there is likely very little performance benefit to cobalt. And when used in excess, this element can be toxic to horses. Brent Stone Acting Deputy Director Ontario Racing Commission
Dresden, July 6, 2015 - Dresden Raceway has been granted approval by the Ontario Racing Commission to conduct a special twilight program of harness racing on Friday, July 17, with a first post of 5:15 p.m. The program has been scheduled as a make-up date due to the cancellation of racing on opening day, Sunday, May 31. Fans will be treated to half-price hot dogs, $1 race programs and plenty of prize giveaways on the July 17th program. Dresden Raceway will host five more race programs this season with lots of special events planned, including Dresden Derby Hat Day (July 12), Twilight Racing (July 17), Kids Day (July 19), BIA Day (July 26 and Closing Day/Free Corn Giveaway Day (August 3). For information and program downloads, visit www.dresdenex.com. Dresden Raceway Media
On June 10, 2015, CPMA announced that it has reviewed its document, "CPMA Policy Paper P-006, Sample Residue Release" and revised the policy to add greater clarity. ORC licensees are expected to know the Rules of Racing, closely review all memos from the CPMA, and keep up to date on the Schedule of Prohibited Drugs. CPMA Revises policy
There will be an extra buzz at Ontario harness racing tracks this summer as the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association renews the highly successful New Owner Mentoring Program. For an investment of $4,500 nine people will have the unparalleled opportunity to be mentored by Hall of Fame horseman Bill O’Donnell and trainer Dustin Jones as they select an Ontario-sired yearling from the fall sales and train it through the winter in preparation for the 2016 racing season. “We’ll educate them about the ground-up stuff, the grassroots stuff,” explains O’Donnell. “They might be fans that go to the races, but haven’t seen this side before.” In addition to his years of expertise, O’Donnell will also contribute $4,500 to the partnership, and the SBOA will boost the group’s initial operating fund to $60,000 through a $15,000 forgivable loan. “That will allow the group to buy their yearling — and it has to be an Ontario-sired yearling sold at an Ontario sale — and then the first year is covered for training and staking and whatever,” explains SBOA Vice President Tammy McNiven. Horses from the first 11 new owner groups ranged from Grassroots performers to Gold Final winners, earning from $27,000 to $500,000, but one yearling did not make it to the races and McNiven emphasizes that there are no guarantees. “It’s not something where we say you are going to get your money back,” she notes. “It’s a learning experience.” Several graduates of the New Owner Mentoring Program have put their education to work purchasing additional racehorses or breeding stock, including Adriano Sorella. A part of the 2008 Ten Most Wanted Stable — whose M G Home Run earned $142,183 under the tutelage of trainer Casie Coleman and mentor Rick Kostoff — Sorella went on to co-own 2013 Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation. “We have had some success stories over the years,” says McNiven. “We hope we can get people interested, get some new people involved.” Detailed information and application forms for the 2015 New Owner Mentoring Program are available on the SBOA website www.standardbredbreeders.com, or by contacting McNiven at 519-475-4276 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Enhanced breeders reward program for 2015 After a series of productive meetings with the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and Ontario Horse Racing (OHR), the SBOA was pleased to sign an agreement enhancing the current breeders reward program by approximately $3 million per year from 2015 to 2018. In addition to the current Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired rewards, the enhanced program will reward breeders across four levels of participation. The first tier provides rewards to the owners/lessees of eligible Ontario Resident Mares who invested directly in the Ontario Standardbred breeding industry by breeding to an Ontario Sire in 2014. Approximately $1 million in breeder’s incentives will be paid out on a pro rata basis — as determined by the advertised service fee of the Ontario Sire (recorded with the OSS for the 2014 breeding season) — for all foals registered by December 31, 2015 that are both Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred. The first foals eligible for this incentive are the foals of 2015 produced from matings between Ontario Resident Mares and Ontario Sires. Tier 2 sees an approximate $1 million increase to the Standardbred Improvement Program’s Ontario Bred rewards. The rewards will be paid on a pro-rata basis to the owners/lessees of eligible Ontario Resident Mares with purse-winning offspring, which are both Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired, racing in Ontario Sires Sakes races and selected open stake races in Ontario. These rewards will commence with the 2015 stake season. Also beginning in 2015, the third tier will reward the breeders of the top three Ontario Bred performers in each of the eight divisions of the Ontario Sires Stakes. A $50,000 reward will be split (First - $25,000; Second - $15,000; Third - $10,000) among the owners/lessees of the eligible Ontario Resident Mares that produce the top three money earners in each division. Finally, the fourth tier will see $100,000 paid to the owner/syndicate of the top Ontario Sires Stakes stallions based on progeny earnings in each of the following OSS categories: 2-year-old trotters; 2-year-old pacers; 3-year-old trotters; 3-year-old pacers. The leading stallions from the 2015 OSS season will be the first group eligible for these rewards. To qualify for the rewards stallions must currently reside in Ontario. To benefit from the enhanced program, breeders need to enroll their broodmares in the Ontario Resident Mare Program in 2015. To qualify as an Ontario Resident Mare, the mare must be enrolled with the Program each year and meet all eligibility requirements outlined in the Program Criteria booklet produced by the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC). Further information on the Ontario Resident Mare Program is available at www.ontariohorseracing.ca. Additional information about the enhanced breeder’s reward program can be found at www.standardbredbreeders.com. (SBOA/Sandra Snyder)
The president of the Dresden Agricultural Society says the historic track will be ready for the May 31st opener. Lucille Laprise said there was a buoyant atmosphere at Dresden Raceway on Monday when word came that the harness racing track had been granted an 11-race summer meet by the Ontario Racing Commission. "Everybody's been anxiously waiting to see what was going to happen. Now that it's official that we're getting our 11 race days, we are very enthused and we're good to go," said Laprise, the president of the Dresden Agricultural Society that revived the track in 2014. "Dresden Raceway is back on track." Dresden will race predominantly on Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. and also include special cards on Canada Day (Wed., July 1) and will close its meet on the Civic Holiday Monday in August (Aug. 3). The 11-race season is the same number of race cards the track had in 2014, though, this year, the season is starting much sooner. "We really have to start spreading the word," Laprise said. "May 31st is going to be here sooner than we think." Harness racing has been conducted in Dresden for over 140 years. The Dresden Exhibition will celebrate its 140th anniversary this summer and harness racing has been conducted there longer than that. In the late-1800s, the Dresden Driving Club organized trials of speed at the track. In the early 1900s, locals gathered in the winter to watch races over the icy Sydenham River. This summer, Dresden Raceway will be part of a southwestern Ontario circuit of small tracks that includes Sarnia's Hiawatha Horse Park and Leamington Raceway. Greg Blanchard will be returning as Dresden Raceway's general manager and Gary Patterson will be back calling the races. "We've got some really good ideas," Laprise said. "We're going to have special race days like we did last year and give-aways and fan appreciation events. We certainly want to invite the people to come back. We've got some great horses, a great track, a great grandstand and we're going to be ready for them." Dave Briggs Standardbred Communications Ontario Horse Racing www.ontariohorseracing.ca
CAMPBELLVILLE, April 27 - An action-packed round two of the Tie Silk harness racing series took place Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Drama was not lacking in the two $15,000 second leg divisions that were contested Monday evening. In the first division, Duh Bubbees clicked off a two-hole trip to win by a quarter of a length over the 4/5 favourite Covert Operative. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Duh Bubbees grabbed the early lead, but would allow Raising Richard to circle around from second down the backstretch to get a two-hole trip. Covert Operative, a leg one winner, had a poor start and got away in sixth. The favourite would be forced to come first up in the middle-half, while Filion would pull Duh Bubbees out of the pocket nearing the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, Duh Bubbees would take the lead and had a two length advantage on Covert Operative halfway down the lane. The favourite would try to chip away at Duh Bubbees lead, but ultimately came up just short. Duh Bubbees tripped the timer in career-best 1:56.3 to score his first victory in four starts this season. Top Dollar finished third, while Raising Richard faded back to fourth. A three-year-old son of Up Front Ben, Duh Bubbees was able to flip the script in leg two, as he had finished a game second to Covert Operative in round one of the Tie Silk. Duh Bubbees is trained by Jamie Wilson and owned by Chris Wilson. The gelding trotter now has four career wins and a bankroll of over $29,000. Duh Bubbees paid $17 to win. The second division would also feature a two-horse stretch battle, but would be left up to the judges to decide the winner. Tarot, who won a first leg division, was sent off as the heavy 3/5 favourite and would come away fifth in the early stages for driver Randy Waples. The public's choice would move to the outside as the field neared the final turn and caught the cover of Hemi Seelster and driver Steve Byron. The outside challengers would close in on leader In Secret nearing the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, Hemi Seelster would take the lead, while Tarot came off his back to challenge on the outside. The two trotters would slug it out down the lane with Hemi Seelster holding the advantage. However, Tarot would make a break in deep stretch allowing Hemi Seelster to hold on and cross the wire first in 1:55. The inquiry sign was flashed immediately by the Ontario Racing Commission judges following the race, as the judges reviewed the stretch drive. The judges would rule that Hemi Seelster interfered with Tarot in the stretch causing the favourite to break and reversed the order of the top two finishers, which vaulted Tarot into the top spot for the victory. Amityville Lindy finished third, while In Secret was fourth. The placing victory gives Tarot six wins from ten starts this season for trainer Dave Tyrrell and owner Michael Casalino Jr. The three-year-old son of Taurus Dream now has career earnings of over $66,000. Tarot returned $3.20 to win. The Tyrrell trainee will be the lone trotter to have a chance at a series sweep in next Monday's Tie Silk final. The series final will be contested for a purse of $34,000. In order to be eligible to the Tie Silk, the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings had to be non-winners of $30,000 in 2014. Mark McKelvie
Racetrack magnate Jeff Gural hates dishonesty. Once you know that, it’s easy to understand why the man who spent more than $100 million to build a new grandstand at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey said he was “really angry” with Standardbred trainer Corey Johnson. Both horses Johnson raced in the Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands in November of 2014 — including Traceur Hanover, the winner of the 2-year-old colt pace — later tested positive for cobalt. The lab in Hong Kong Gural personally employed to do the testing reported each horse had five times the threshold level of cobalt typically found in a horse’s system. Gural, 72, also was irked that the New Jersey Racing Commission had allowed Johnson to race in the Breeders Crown in the first place. The Ontario Racing Commission suspended the trainer on the Monday before the Crown finals after another horse he trained received a positive test for elevated total carbon dioxide (TC02) levels at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. “The guy embarrassed the sport,” said Gural, who maintains a sizeable list of trainers banned from racing at the Meadowlands as well as the two smaller harness tracks he also owns in upstate New York — Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. Yet, Gural couldn’t bar Johnson’s Crown entries because the Breeders Crown is operated by the Hambletonian Society, which defers to the sport’s state and provincial regulators to determine a participant’s eligibility. The New Jersey Racing Commission allowed Johnson to race because the trainer had not had a hearing in Ontario prior to the Crown finals. After the cobalt positive, Gural not only banned Johnson from racing at his tracks, he also banned entries from Quebec-based owner Richard Berthiaume, the owner of both of Johnson’s Breeders Crown entries. “We’ve now made changes to our rules so that can never happen again,” Gural said, explaining the language in those rules is so broad that the track will now be able to reject entries for all stakes races at his tracks, even those operated by outside groups. The Breeders Crown will return to the Meadowlands in 2016. Gural is puzzled why people in horse racing call him a polarizing figure. To read the extensive full article written by Dave Briggs click here. Dave Briggs is the co-editor of Canadian Thoroughbred magazine and a freelance horse racing columnist and features writer. For 18 years, he was the editor of the harness racing trade publication The Canadian Sportsman.
Standardbred Improvement Program participants are reminded of the importance of enrolling their mares in the harness racing Ontario Resident Mare Program this year. The following incentives especially benefit ONTARO BRED foals: SBOA $12M Breeders Reward Enhancement Only Ontario Sired foals out of mares enrolled in and meeting the requirements of the Ontario Resident Mare Program, will be eligible to earn a share of the $12M enhancement funding through the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA). Further details of this Breeders Rewards enhancement for foals that are BOTH Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred are available on the SBOA website. $2M Owners’ Bonus starting in 2017 Foals of 2015 will be eligible to earn a portion of the new $2M Owners’ Bonus based on their overnight earnings as 2 and 3-year-olds. This Standardbred Improvement Program bonus, which was announced in January, will begin in 2017 and is available to owners of foals that are Ontario Sired OR Ontario Bred. However, if a foal is both Ontario Sired AND Ontario Bred they will receive double the bonus. Although it will be paid to the owners of eligible foals rather than the mare owners, it is anticipated that this bonus will increase the value of Ontario Bred foals. These incentives are, of course, in addition to the Ontario Bred Rewards which have been in effect since 2011 and amount to 15% of OSS earnings plus 15% of earnings in selected Open Stakes in Ontario. Ontario Bred Rewards are paid to the person who enrolled the mare in the Program. Mares may be enrolled in the Ontario Resident Mare Program for a fee of $50 before they foal or $300 after they have foaled (up to September 1st). The mare must be resident in the province of Ontario at the time of enrolment and must remain in the province for 180 days surrounding foaling in Ontario. All forms are available on the new OHR website www.ontariohorseracing.ca by clicking “Breeding Programs” and then “Standardbred Improvement Program”. For further information: Karen Hauver Ontario Horse Racing (519) 369-3545 Walter Parkinson SBOA (519) 227-4294 Robin McClure Standardbred Canada (905) 858-3060