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The following statement is from Doug Lieb, harness racing trainer Rene Allard's Attorney on the Gural - Allard situation. Dear Mr. Gural: This firm is civil counsel to Rene Allard. Last week, you further escalated your long-running campaign to blacklist Mr. Allard from his chosen profession. Mr. Allard has every right to make a living. He has every right to continue training horses, which is his passion and his life’s work. All of his current professional activities are specifically permitted by court order. We demand that you cease and desist from your tortious interference with—and your efforts to organize a group boycott of—Mr. Allard’s business. Your actions are not just unlawful, but wrong. You began your campaign against Mr. Allard in 2013 by excluding him from your racetracks. You then employed a private investigative firm that harassed and threatened others in the harness racing industry unless they provided negative information about Mr. Allard. You then caused unreliable information generated by those investigators to be turned over to the United States Government, leading to Mr. Allard’s arrest. As a result of your actions, Mr. Allard is the subject of a pending criminal prosecution in which he fully intends to clear his name. In the latest escalation, you have now demanded that all horse owners who do business with Mr. Allard stop doing so as a condition of doing business with you. On March 6, 2021, the Meadowlands media relations department issued a statement (the “March 6 Statement”) [1] that the three racetracks you control—The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, which account for a significant portion of harness racing opportunities in the Northeast and include harness racing’s flagship track—will “exclude any horse being trained or that has been trained” by Mr. Allard in Florida. The March 6 Statement also notes that for owners who “currently have or have had horses in Mr. Allard’s stable this winter,” “all horses owned wholly or in part by them will be excluded” from these three tracks and “deemed ineligible . . . for any/all administered stake races . . . for a minimum of three years.” Owners who have done business with Mr. Allard must also divest their interest from any horses not trained by Mr. Allard in which they are minority owners by March 15 in order for those horses to race at your tracks. [2] The ban would likely affect dozens of owners and hundreds of horses that have never been trained by Mr. Allard. Thus, in addition to banning horses trained by Mr. Allard, the March 6 Statement effectively provides that any owners who have any business relationship with Mr. Allard must agree to cease doing business with him as a condition of doing unrelated business with your tracks. The pressure on owners is severe. Owners who agree to the policy announced in your March 6 Statement would need to immediately sell their ownership interest in horses that are not trained by Mr. Allard, which would likely mean selling those horses at a loss. Owners who do not agree to the policy would presumably lose the stakes money they have already paid to race at the Meadowlands this year and any purses they may have won from racing there. It is difficult to envision a clearer example of tortious interference with business relations. You are engaged in “deliberate interference” with Mr. Allard’s existing contractual relationships with owners in an effort to induce owners to breach their contracts with Mr. Allard. NBT Bancorp Inc. v. Fleet/Norstar Fin. Grp., Inc., 87 N.Y.2d 614, 621 (1996). You are also making statements that “impugn[] the basic integrity” of Mr. Allard’s business. Amaranth LLC v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., 71 A.D.3d 40, 48 (1st Dep’t 2009) (“[Plaintiff] has adequately pleaded the elements of tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. It is well settled that where a statement impugns the basic integrity . . . of a business, an action lies and injury is conclusively presumed.”). And you are exerting severe economic pressure on owners by threatening to freeze them out of the most important opportunities in their field if they have any economic relations with Mr. Allard in the future. See, e.g., Carvel Corp. v. Noonan, 3 N.Y.3d 182, 193-94 (2004) (severe economic pressure on third parties who do business with plaintiff may constitute tortious interference with plaintiff’s prospective economic relations). You are also, in potential violation of the Sherman Act, attempting to orchestrate a group boycott of Mr. Allard in plain sight. A group boycott is an agreement among participants in the relevant market not to deal, or only to deal on discriminatory terms, with a competitor. See, e.g., NYNEX Corp. v. Discon, Inc., 525 U.S. 128, 134 (1998). Such boycotts are per se unlawful—meaning that they are illegal irrespective of whether they actually have an anticompetitive effect or a legitimate business rationale—where they involve horizontal agreements among competitors. See, e.g., Fashion Originators’ Guild of Am., Inc. v. FTC, 312 U.S. 457 (1941). You are both an owner of racetracks and an owner of horses. Should you succeed in your efforts to induce other horse owners to agree not to do business with Mr. Allard as a condition of doing business with you, you would be entering into such horizontal agreements. The improper purpose of the March 6 Statement is further confirmed by your history of targeting Mr. Allard—and others in your industry who defy your edicts. In 2013, after Mr. Allard won several significant races at your tracks and was having an excellent season (including a training UDRS of .367), you excluded him from racing at any of your tracks without explanation. [3] As you have acknowledged, banning trainers—especially winning ones—from the Meadowlands can help your bottom line. [4] That is so in part because you and your close associates sometimes have stakes in horses competing in those same races. A trainer has previously testified under oath that you banned him from your racetrack because he was winning races. [5] After another trainer spoke out publicly against that ban, you banned him too. [6] When a trainer worked to defeat legislation that would have expressly authorized the practice of allowing horses you own to race on your tracks, you banned him—and then banned other horsemen who were merely members of the association that opposed the proposed bill. [7] Even after you banned Mr. Allard from your racetracks, Mr. Allard continued his long track record of success. You, in turn, continued taking measures that would harm his career. You engaged a private investigative firm, 5 Stones Intelligence, to investigate Mr. Allard. 5 Stones used aggressive, unlawful tactics in an attempt to coerce witnesses into incriminating others in the industry. When witnesses refused to participate and told 5 Stones that they were not aware of any wrongdoing, 5 Stones threatened their careers in the industry. You then gave the Government the information that 5 Stones collected through these questionable means. As you noted in the March 6 Statement: “We, along with the Thoroughbred Jockey Club, spent much time and money employing the Five Stones investigators to prepare a case to get the Feds interested which led to all of those indictments,” referring to the indictment against Mr. Allard and others. Your own words suggest that your purpose in retaining 5 Stones was not to uncover the truth. It was to produce information, whether true or false, that would “get the Feds interested” and lead the Government to indict Mr. Allard. In other words, you worked with 5 Stones to “lead the FBI in the right direction.”[8] That the Government charged Mr. Allard on the basis of information provided at least in part by yourself and 5 Stones—after your years-long campaign against Mr. Allard, and after 5 Stones’ repeated harassment of witnesses—raises serious doubt about the criminal charges that Mr. Allard now faces. Despite Mr. Allard’s arrest, owners have continued to employ him to train their young, non-racing horses because they are confident in his integrity and future success. As you are surely aware, Mr. Allard has been permitted by prosecutors and the Court to continue making a living by engaging in this work while the criminal case is pending. [9] You, however, have continued your efforts to put Mr. Allard out of business entirely. Even before the March 6 Statement, you contacted owners directly to pressure them to end their business with Mr. Allard. Those private communications were consistent with your thinly veiled public comments that “anyone who used these people who were indicted cannot be sleeping well” [10] and that “some might find it in their interest to cooperate.” [11]           *          * We hereby demand that you formally retract the March 6 Statement. We further demand that you state in writing that will not seek to require owners to stop doing business with Mr. Allard as a condition of entering horses into races at tracks you control. You, your corporate entities, your affiliates, your employees and agents, and others acting at your direction, including but not limited to 5 Stones Intelligence, must also preserve all documents and correspondence concerning the investigation of Mr. Allard; your direct and indirect communications with others in the industry about Mr. Allard’s business and/or conduct; and/or the March 6 Statement. This letter is not an exhaustive recitation of Mr. Allard’s legal claims, rights, or remedies, all of which we expressly reserve. Sincerely yours, Douglas E. Lieb   cc.        Brice Cote (by email - bcote@playmeadowlands.com)   [1]                 Gural Statement on Allard Training Stable, United States Trotting Ass’n, http://ustrottingnews .com/gural-statement-on-allard-training-center. [2]                The March 15 deadline is a key entry point when horse owners must pay fees in order to race in the upcoming season. Many of the dozens of owners potentially subject to the ban have already paid their February stake payment installment. [3]                Steve Wolf, Allard’s Exclusion Includes Three Racetracks, HarnessLink, May 18, 2013, http://www.harnesslink.com/News/Allard-s-exclusion-includes-three-racetracks-105801. [4]                Dave Briggs, Why American Racetrack Owner Jeff Gural Is Taking a Stand on Integrity, Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, Apr. 8, 2015, https://www.thoroughbredracing.com/articles/why-american-racetrack-owner-jeff-gural-taking-stand-integrity. (“[Banning trainers] has helped us at the Meadowlands. Look at some of our competitors where people we’ve banned are racing. Look at their handle . . . There are other factors, but from what I’ve seen, our handle dwarfs our competitors where the drug guys are allowed to race. One would think it does help, obviously.” (alterations in original)). [5]                Pena v. New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC, Civ. No. 12-2, 2012 WL 95344, at *1 (D.N.J. Jan. 10, 2012) (“Indeed, Plaintiff avers that Mr. Gural ‘has made public statements that he does not want Pena racing at the Meadowlands, for no apparent reason other than that Pena is winning so many races.”). [6]                Meadowlands Bans Driver George Brennan, Allegedly for Comments Made in NY Times, Paulick Report, June 4, 2012, https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/meadowlands-bans-driver-george-brennan-allegedly-for-comments-made-in-ny-times. [7]                Lifetime Ban – Now Retribution By Gural, HarnessLink, June 23, 2016, http://www.harnesslink .com/News/Re--Gural-ban-Memo-in-Word. [8]                Bob Ehalt, Surveillance Firm Played Role in Federal Indictments, BloodHorse, Mar. 21, 2020,  https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/239166/surveillance-firm-played-role-in-federal-indictments. [9]                See ECF No. 12, United States v. Grasso, 20-CR-163 (S.D.N.Y.), ECF No. 12 (describing “Additional Conditions,” including “Def[endant] not to train horses entered into any races” (emphasis added)). [10]               Ehalt, supra note 8. [11]               John Brennan, Meadowlands Racetrack Owner Sees Doping Scandal as a Long-Term Boost for Horse Racing, Online Gambling, Apr. 9, 2020, https://www.njonlinegambling.com/meadowlands-racetrack-doping-scandal-boost. -- Doug Lieb Kaufman Lieb Lebowitz & Frick LLP dlieb@kllf-law.com www.kllf-law.com 212.660.2332 10 E. 40th St., Suite 3307 New York, NY 10016

Harness racing trainer Rene Allard has been included in a superseding indictment filed in federal court last week against Louis Grass, Donato Poliseno, Thomas Guido III, and Richard Banca. All defendants have entered not guilty pleas to one count each of drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy for their role in what prosecutors say was a scheme to “manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated ad misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants' control.” The allegations in the Dec. 3 indictment are nearly identical to those in the indictment filed against Grasso, Poliseno, Guido and Banca in February and March of this year. The timing of the indictments and arrests earlier in the year coincides with a larger case also from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York into alleged doping schemes utilized by Thoroughbred trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis. At that time, a complaint was filed against Allard but prosecutors requested several extensions of time in the case throughout the spring and summer. The complaint details Allard's involvement in the alleged scheme with his co-defendants, as recounted by FBI special agent Bruce Turpin. To read the full article by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click on this link.  

The career of a rising harness racing trainer has come to a sudden halt amid allegations of serious misconduct. Mitchell Kerr – who already has 87 wins to his credit and has won nearly $900,000 in stake money in his three-year training career – handed in his training licence to Harness Racing New Zealand last Saturday. At the same time, the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) has received a raft of allegations about the 28-year-old's conduct as a trainer. Stuff understands the RIU is investigating and has also passed information to police. The police and the RIU declined to comment this week when asked about the case. A source described the allegations as serious. Kerr’s father Paul, a veteran licensed trainer based in Ohoka, North Canterbury, said the RIU had not put any of the allegations to his son, and he had not heard from police either. “I don’t have any respect for the Racing Integrity Unit whatsoever,” he said. “They have been hounding people for the last three years.” Paul Kerr said his son had “one or two personal issues going on” unconnected to the accusations. Mitchell was aware of the allegations, he said. “Until they are substantiated they are just rumour mongering. Things are only just coming out of the woodwork and there is nothing to say they are true.” Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) confirmed Mitchell Kerr had relinquished his licence and said it was not aware of any investigation by the RIU. “If there is a breach of the rules of racing then HRNZ will act appropriately.” Horses stabled at the Mitchell Kerr Racing Stables in Rangiora have been removed to his father’s property in Ohoka. Paul Kerr said not a single owner had removed their horse from his son’s supervision and none had complained about his son. Mitchell Kerr’s last win was at the KaikĊura races earlier this month when William Wallace, which is part owned by All Black Anton Lienert-Brown, won the PGG Sales Series Classic. The allegations are the last thing the harness racing industry needs in its rebuilding phase after a police investigation into race fixing followed by charges against various industry figures in 2018. Canterbury trainer Nigel McGrath was disqualified for eight years in July for attempted doping and not co-operating with racecourse inspectors. An industry figure, who asked not to be named, said Kerr’s troubles were a major talking point in an industry known for its rumour mill. “[About] 99.9 per cent of us are working our guts out for little reward and a few people put the sport in a bad light.” Kerr has worked for his father, and for trainers Robert Dunn, at Woodend Beach, and Gareth Dixon in Auckland. He went out on his own in 2017 after securing 10 boxes and a barn at Rangiora Raceway and developed the outside yards and paddocks. By Martin Van Beynen Reprinted with permission of Stuff

Since the indictment of more than two dozen thoroughbred and harness racing trainers, assistants, veterinarians, and pharmacists in connection with a horse doping ring this March, rumors have swirled that more names could be forthcoming in connection with the federal investigation. Speaking at a status conference for the case on Tuesday morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Adams told U.S. District Judge Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil that a superseding indictment could be around the corner, but did not provide details as to the timing. “We are looking seriously at superseding indictments,” said Adams. “For the moment, and I made this point at least to some defense counsel previously, the nature of what we're looking at is largely in the same kind of criminal conduct as what is in the current indictment. We're looking at expanding timeframes for certain of the conspiracies. We're looking at potentially adding different statutory charges with respect to certain of the defendants. What I do not anticipate for the moment is that those superseding indictments, if and when they come, would require the production of some substantial large set of materials not already produced to date or already in the queue of things we expect to produce.” A superseding indictment is one which replaces an existing indictment, and could add charges against already-named defendants and/or could name new defendants. Vyskocil reminded Adams that the court would not hold things up while the government finishes its investigation. Adams said he understood and that he would not ask to hold up the proceedings for that reason. The charges on the current indictments, which names former top trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, among others, focus on drug adulteration, misbranding, and conspiracy. The indictments claim a network of horsemen, veterinarians and pharmacy reps sold, distributed and used drugs in racehorses for the purpose of performance enhancement. Other than a potential superseding indictment, there are not likely to be many updates in the case until late fall. Currently, attorneys are going through the discovery process, meaning each side is requesting and providing requested evidence in the case. Adams said he believes his office will be able to provide the last of the discovery material requested by defendants by the end of September. Already, the office has provided some 90 gigabytes' worth of data to all defendants in three different volumes, and has fielded 20 additional individual requests. That data includes the results of 30 different search warrants, intercepted phone calls and text messages, geolocation information for various devices, email accounts, file transfer accounts, inventory lists, shipping records, veterinary records, drug promotional and marketing material, and much more. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still extracting data from devices like cell phones and tablets seized from defendants at the time of their arrests. Adams mentioned that labs inside and outside the United States had been asked to conduct testing on samples related to the case, although it was not immediately clear whether that referred to samples of substances seized in searches of pharmacies or biological samples from horses, or both. Those results were not all known to the federal government as of yet, and some defense attorneys expressed a desire to work out some sort of split sampling process where possible, acknowledging there was a finite amount of some samples available to test. After the government produces requested evidence, it is sent to a coordinating discovery attorney for organization and distribution. One defense attorney pointed out that it generally takes the coordinating discovery attorney roughly a month to process large document releases before they are given over to defense counsel, so a late September target for discovery completion means they will get a look at the last of the evidence in early November. Vyskocil scheduled a status conference for Nov. 19. Most participants on the call agreed it would be impractical to set a trial date or motion schedule until the defense has seen all the government's evidence against their clients. Read more about the federal indictments in this March 9 piece from the Paulick Report. By Natalia Ross Reprinted with permission of The Paulick Report

A young man will join his uncle in prison after they both instigated a major drug operation in Ballarat, making and selling pills at night clubs. Nathan Weightman, 23, was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment at the County Court of Victoria on Thursday for trafficking drugs and possessing a pill press. For the first time, The Courier can reveal his uncle, Ian Weightman, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' imprisonment in April last year for the same Offenses. Three years ago the Weightmans started making and selling thousands of inexpensive pills, along with then 19-year-old DJ Peter Moore. The operation was based at Ian's Redman house where a pill press was set up to make the drugs, which Moore sold at Ballarat nightclubs. Some of the pills contained low levels of the drug MDMA. The Weightman men made a batch of pills emblazoned with Transformer logos, while on another day Moore helped Nathan work the press to make 2000 pills. On another occasion, Nathan turned up at the Golden Point home he shared with Moore carrying a bag of 2000 yellow pills marked with Homer Simpson emblem. Three months after starting the drug business, police searched the trio's houses in October, uncovering a large quantity of pills and powder, cash and drug paraphernalia associated with trafficking. Nathan persisted with a plea of not guilty for two-and-a-half years before he admitted to dealing the drugs and possessing the tablet press. County Court Judge John Smallwood told Nathan his offending must be regarded as serious. "Clearly over that period of time a very significant number of pills were manufactured by you and your uncle for the purpose of selling for profit and Mr Moore was involved in all that in terms of trafficking and the distribution," Judge Smallwood said. "Yours is a situation where it's clear that you were very much involved in it "You were certainly aware of the potential consequences of this "You are to be sentenced for a serious example of trafficking over an extended period of time where you knew what you were doing and you were an instigator and directly involved in it" The Judge told Nathan he had pleaded guilty late in the Court process after he was committed to stand trial. The Judge said he took into account Nathan's good work ethic, family support and his rehabilitation "which means the risk of you re-offending should be low, depending on the future". He said Nathan had been on bail for the past two-and-a-half years, which included a curfew from 9pm to 6am. Nathan, who was born in Ballarat and moved to Mildura, became a successful harness racing driver after he obtained his license when he was 16. "I am very aware you are still a very young man, I am very aware you haven't offended since (2017) and I am very aware that you have no prior convictions," Judge Smallwood said. Nathan was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment with a no-parole period of eight months. He has served 14 days of the sentence. If he did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for two years with a minimum of 15 months, according to the Judge. Nathan pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking and one count each of possessing a tablet press and dealing with proceeds of crime. A suppression order on Ian's case was lifted after his nephew's sentence on Thursday. The 62 year-old was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment in April last year. He pleaded guilty to trafficking and processing a tablet press. Moore was sentenced to 10 months' youth detention in May, 2018, after pleading guilty to drug trafficking and possessing a pill press. By Erin Williams Reprinted with permission of The Ballarat Courier

The Australian Anti-Doping Authority has taken an interest in the family of Bronson Xerri and its colourful history as it investigates criminal links around the supply of anabolic steroids following the Cronulla teenager’s positive drugs test. Xerri, 19, has been provisionally stood down and is facing a suspension of up to four years after returning a positive A-sample to the banned substances exogenous testosterone, androsterone, etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol when target tested following a tip-off last November. While the doping violation is yet to be confirmed with a B sample, the attention of ASADA investigators is now very much on trying to establish whether there are criminal links to the distribution of the substances found in Xerri’s system. It was a year-long Australian Crime Commission investigation into sports, prohibited substances and organised crime that preceded the Cronulla and Essendon doping scandals in the last decade. According to a source with knowledge of ASADA's Xerri probe, there is a particular interest in the player's family. The Herald can reveal the Sharks youngster’s 28-year-old brother Troy was sentenced to an aggregate term of five years imprisonment in 2014 over drugs charges. Troy was initially one of eight men, including two teenagers, who were charged over drugs supply in south-west Sydney eight years ago. An array of illegal substances from prescription drugs including steroids, valium and xanax, ammunition and a bayonet knife were seized during raids on premises in Merrylands, Greystanes, Ermington and Granville. Police also found more than $50,000 in cash. It resulted in Troy Xerri facing Parramatta Local Court on charges of supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and take part in supply of a prohibited drug. His jail term included a non-parole period of two years and six months. ASADA investigators seized Bronson Xerri’s phone briefly this week to download data from it. A call to the Xerri home on Friday went unanswered. Xerri has previously spoken of the importance of his family, which has connections to the harness racing industry, during his rapid rugby league rise. His other older brother Dylan presented him with his maiden first-grade jersey before his NRL debut last year. To read the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click on this link.

For some people, the federal indictments of over two dozen people in horse racing for drug adulteration and misbranding were a confirmation of long-held suspicions — that racing wasn't as clean as it should be. For Hanover Shoe Farms president and CEO Russell Williams, it was a call to action. Williams is the grandson of Hanover Shoe founder Lawrence Sheppard, who launched the Standardbred operation in Hanover, Penn., when he was a junior partner in the Hanover Shoe Company. The farm burst onto the Standardbred scene in the 1920s and emerged as one of the sport's largest commercial breeders. Hanover Shoe has been the country's top breeder by U.S. Trotting Association figures year after year. He is also the president of the U.S. Trotting Association. As such, the allegations in the indictments, of Standardbred and Thoroughbred trainers doping horses while escaping the detection of pre- and post-race testing, offended Williams deeply. “Here at Hanover Shoe farm, we sell about 230 yearlings, or that's what we're going to sell this year,” said Williams. “We try to raise them right and love them and take good care of them. To send them out into the world to be subjected to the things described in those indictments … it breaks our hearts. “We're going to show them we're not going to say goodbye to them when they leave here. We're going to put this challenge grant down and make some things happen.” To read the full report written by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click here.  

Jim Gagliano, the President and CEO of the Jockey Club, discusses the recent horse drugging indictments and the intricate investigations that led to them.   President & Chief Operating Officer   James L. Gagliano became president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, the breed registry for all Thoroughbred horses in North America, on January 1, 2010. He had served as executive vice president and chief administrative officer for The Jockey Club since June 2005. Prior to joining The Jockey Club’s management team, Gagliano served as executive vice president of Magna Entertainment Corporation’s Maryland racing operations, where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Maryland Jockey Club. He also served as president, MEC OTB, and group vice president, MEC Northern Group. Before that, Gagliano served as executive vice president and general manager of Greenwood Racing Inc. and worked in various roles during a 10-year stint with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. James L. Gagliano Since October 2010, he has served as vice chairman representing the Americas for the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Executive Council. In January 2013, he was elected to the American Horse Council board of trustees for which he was elected vice chairman in June 2015 and chairman in 2018. In June 2016, he was named to the Humane Society of the United States National Horse Racing Advisory Council. In addition, he was elected to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance board of directors in December 2016. Gagliano has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Providence College.   While signaling that there's lots more to come, he also talks about his overwhelming support of Jeff Gural, USADA and the Horseracing Integrity Act. - It's a 'must be listened to' broadcast...!!!        

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harness racing trainer Richard Banca has become the 28th person identified in the horse doping scandal that yielded indictments against some of the biggest names in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. Banca’s name was not among those listed when indictments were announced Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He was arrested Monday and released after posting a $200,000 personal recognizance bond. That another name has surfaced fuels speculation that the investigation launched by the FBI and the Department of Justice will yield more names, perhaps many more. The court documents regarding Banca include a deposition from FBI agent Bruce Turpin, who links Banca to Louis Grasso and Conor Flynn, who were among the 27 indicted Monday. Like the others, Banca is being charged with “misbranding” drugs. Turpin testified that Banca’s property in Middletown, NY was searched Mar. 9 and that the FBI found a number of illegal substances and handwritten notes with instructions on how to administer those drugs. Turpin lays out a scenario where Flynn, Grasso and Banca worked together to illegally administer drugs to horses and says that Flynn was Banca’s assistant. “I have learned that Grasso has, on multiple occasions, supplied Flynn with adulterated and misbranded performance-enhancing drugs for Flynn to administer–or deliver to others to administer–to racehorses,” Turpin testified. In further testimony, Turpin reports: “Based on my discussions with an agent who has spoken with a confidential source, I have learned that Flynn has stated, in substance and in part, that Flynn administers horses owned, trained, or otherwise under Banca’s control, with PEDs at Banca’s direction. In 2011, Banca was sanctioned by the New York Racing and Wagering Board for Oxymetazoline violations and given a 90-day suspension and a $1,000 fine. Banca, 34, has won 1,695 races, including 42 this year. After never having more than 82 winners in a year, his win total shot up to 174 in 2015 and he won 200 races in 2016. The horses he had entered Monday night at Yonkers were scratched. By Bill Finley Reprinted with permission of The Thoroughbred Daily News

A Victorian harness racing trainer-driver has been disqualified for six years, after admitting to injecting a horse with potassium so stewards wouldn't find out it had been fixed for a race. Scott Dyer has also admitted to acting corruptly by being aware that another trainer had fixed horses by 'drenching' them. Drenching involves putting a tube down a horse's throat to put substances into them that give them an unfair advantage on the track. Dyer pleaded guilty to five breaches of Australian Harness Racing Rules over the incidents in December 2014, at a hearing of the Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in May. It disqualified him from training and driving for seven years and 34 days, but he asked the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review the decision. The breaches came to light when police intercepted calls made by another registered trainer, Larry Eastman, between October and December 2014. The calls revealed that on December 8, after the horse Waterslide had won a race at Charlton and stewards called for a post-race blood sample, Dyer injected the animal with potassium to hide the substances that had been put into it earlier to give it a racing edge. He also drove the horse Sukovia in Horsham on December 15, after discussing with Eastman that another horse, Dynamic Dick, would be stomach tubed. Before another race in Swan Hill on December 2, Dyer was also aware through Eastman that the horse Cashisking would receive the same treatment. Eastman went on to plead guilty to five criminal offences, including using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes and engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event. He was convicted and fined $20,000. In reviewing Dyer's case, VCAT member Reynah Tang decided a disqualification of 10 years and four months would fit the bill. But he discounted the penalty to six years when considering Dyer's guilty plea and the delay in his case coming before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board. He also considered the potential impact of the disqualification of his depression, which a psychiatrist confirmed he had been dealing with since 2013. There was also a lack of evidence that Dyer had benefited financially from the offending and he remained on the Newstart Allowance, Mr Tang said. By Marnie Banger   Australian Associated Press       VIC - VCAT Decision - Scott Dyer 15 November 2019   On 14 November 2019, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) released its decision in relation to an application for review lodged by former licensed person Scott Dyer regarding a decision of the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 22 May 2019. Background On 22 May 2019, Mr Dyer pleaded guilty at a HRV RAD Board hearing to five charges that related to a Victoria Police investigation that lead to criminal charges being issued against licensed trainer Larry Eastman. The HRV RAD Board determined charges regarding Mr Dyer interfering with a post-race blood sample; failing to drive a horse on its merits; possession of a syringe containing the substance potassium on a racecourse; and corrupt or improper conduct in relation to information he had about the prerace stomach-tubing of ‘Cashisking’ on 2 December 2014 and ‘Dynamite Dick’ on 15 December 2014. Mr Dyer was disqualified for a period of 8 years. The HRV RAD Board media release can be found here. VCAT Hearing On 8 October 2019, VCAT Member Tang heard submissions from Allan McMonnies for Mr Dyer and Adrian Anderson for HRV. In the VCAT Decision, dated 14 November 2019, Member Tang set aside the penalty decision of the HRV RAD Board, and in its place substituted a total effective disqualification of six years. Mr Dyer will be disqualified until 25 June 2024. The full VCAT decision can be viewed here. Harness Racing Victoria

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