The rules of harness racing are dictated by the state where the racing activity occurs. All racing ovals are situated within the boundaries of a certain state. By virtue of inherent police power to protect the health, safety and morals of its citizens, each sovereign state independently determines how our sport is conducted. On this score, consider that medication regulations are solely within the purview of the individual state governments. When regulations are deemed to be "uniform," that identity happens only because each of the participating states adopt mirror image rules. Even if they appear to be the same or substantially similar from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the rules are, in fact, unique to each state. Licensing is a function of the state as well and, as everyone in our industry is aware, being licensed in one state in no way guarantees that a license will issue in others. Federal law was created by the states. The promulgation of the U.S. Constitution was accomplished only because the independent colonies agreed to abdicate a very limited amount of their respective powers to a federal government for the greater good of all. As powerful as the federal government may at times seem, it can only act if a constitutional provision allows it to do so. In the racing realm, the sparse instances of federal regulation occur based upon the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That provision reserves solely to Congress the regulation of commerce across state lines. It makes perfect sense. Imagine if each state developed their own regulations for the size and shape of mud guards on the rear of tractor trailers. Truck drivers would be required to carry scores of different flaps, and to stop and change the flaps at the border of each state. In fact, 55 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down just such state regulations as unconstitutional burdens on interstate commerce. Thus, the Interstate Commerce Clause permits the federal government to regulate things such as interstate simulcasting and the transportation of horses across state lines. So, what about a state law or regulation that prohibits the interstate movement of racehorses for periods of time? Can such rules pass constitutional muster, or should they be struck down as being in conflict with the Interstate Commerce Clause as unnecessarily impeding the free flow of business among the states? These questions are not hypothetical. Several states have regulations geared towards ensuring that there are always enough horses to fill race cards at meets. Both the Pennsylvania Code and New York regulations dictate that a harness horse may not race at a track other than the track where claimed for 30 days or the balance of the current racing meeting, whichever comes first, unless released by the racing secretary. In Maryland, the rules bar a claimed harness horse from racing outside the state for 60 days if the claim was at Rosecroft, or for 30 days if the claim was at Ocean Downs, unless the respective meet ends sooner. Delaware regulations contain a blanket 60 day prohibition on racing a claimed horse out of the state without approval of the track where the horse was claimed. May a state prohibit an owner from immediately racing a claimed horse in another state? That was exactly the question decided by the Kentucky Court of Appeals last month. The case, Jamgotchian v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, was brought by a Thoroughbred owner who claimed a horse at Churchill Downs in Kentucky in May of 2011. Under Kentucky Thoroughbred rules, the horse was not permitted to race outside the state until the Churchill meet ended on July 4, 2011. In June, the owner entered the horse at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania. The racing secretary, in consultation with Churchill officials, rejected the entry based upon the Kentucky regulation. The owner claimed that the Kentucky prohibition violated the Federal Interstate Commerce Clause. In its ruling, the court stated that the test to be employed was whether, a) the challenged law is protectionist in measure, or; b) whether it can fairly be viewed as a law directed to legitimate local concerns, with effects upon interstate commerce that are only incidental. In other words, the court initially indicated that not every state regulation affecting interstate commerce is unconstitutional. In applying the test to the regulation in question, the court first reasoned that the general regulation of horse racing is both a traditional and legitimate state function, and is thus a valid exercise of Kentucky’s police power. In its analysis, the court pointed out that out of the thirty-eight states that permit wagering on horse racing, twenty-seven states have a claiming law similar to Kentucky's regulation. In sum, state regulation of claiming is pervasive across the United States. As to whether the regulation is protectionist or discriminatory, the court pointed out that the regulation applied evenly to both in-state and out-of-state licensees. Also, it determined that the effect on interstate commerce is incidental, inasmuch as the prohibition was strictly limited to horses acquired in the claiming realm. The court reasoned that the aggrieved owner could have purchased a horse privately or at an auction sale, and could have freely and immediately raced that purchase elsewhere. Finally, the court concluded that the regulation was limited in duration and scope, inasmuch as it banned transport out of state for racing for only the duration of the meet, which at the outside was just three months. To read the full text of the case, click here: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=505383974654814112&q=jamgotchian&hl=en&as_sdt=6,33&as_ylo=2014 While Kentucky upheld the regulation, it is unclear whether a federal court would agree with the reasoning of the Court of Appeals. That just might be Mr. Jamgotchian’s next move. By Chris E. Wittstruck, who is an attorney, a director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a charter member of the Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Law Network.
At its monthly meeting held in Harrisburg on Thursday (Feb. 27), the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission reinstated the 2014 race dates for Harrah's Philadelphia. On Jan. 23 the commission suspended the track's race dates for 2014 due to the track's failure to provide the commission with information regarding how it would address issues with the track's racing surface. Harrah's Philadelphia's dates call for a March 14 opening, but because of the harsh winter weather, work on the track is expected to delay the opening for 10-14 days. Ted Malloy, who has done work at The Meadows but now primarily serves as a consultant for Thoroughbred tracks, is reportedly going to oversee the work to get the Harrah's Philadelphia track ready for the opening. There was no mention at the meeting of the lawsuit brought by the family of Anthony Coletta, who was injured in an accident at the track last December. To read more click here.
Today the Massachusetts Racing Commission, with a 3-2 vote, has selected Penn Gaming’s harness racing track, Plainridge Racecourse, as the recipiant of the sole slot machine operators license in the state. “I believe the Commission will be issuing certain conditions to the license which we have until tomorrow to accept.” Said Chris McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, Inc., “I am not involved in that discussion but I would assume there will be no issues with our accepting whatever is required for the license. Officially I don’t believe the Commission awards the license until tomorrow.” The commission will take an official vote to award the license Friday. Commissioners Gayle Cameron, Enrique Zuniga and Bruce Stebbins said in individual statements that they slightly favored Plainville, which would be operated by Penn National Gaming, over a proposal by Cordish Cos. to build a slots parlor in Leominster. Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby and Commissioner James McHugh said they were leaning toward Leominster. Thursday’s vote came after two days of evaluation presentations and only a few hours of formal deliberations by the five-member commission. All five commissioners stated their positions on the license during the morning deliberation session. “This is an exciting moment and an energizing moment,” McHugh said prior to the vote. “We have two very strong applicants...I am happy that we have two applicants of this caliber.” Penn National must report to the commission by 9:30 a.m. Friday on whether it will accept the license conditions. If the company accepts the conditions and is officially awarded the slots license, it would install 1,250 slot machines in a new facility it would build to include restaurants and a sports bar, as well as harness racing. Plainridge had appeared out of the running for the slot license as late as last August when the state gaming commission ruled that the then owners of the track were unfit to hold a license. The track’s bid was resurrected when Penn National stepped in to purchase an option on Plainridge. Horsemen and others called the Plainridge application the last chance to save harness racing in the state. Penn National had said it would not continue racing if it did not receive the slot license. By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
There is a “grass roots” movement currently going on in harness racing, which is being led by two prominent horse owners, Richard and Joanne Young of South Florida. They have been owners in the Standardbred industry for 20 plus years. Joanne has been riding and showing Arabian horses for 30 years. Over the years they have had the pleasure of owning not one, but two world champion performers, Put On A Show (31 wins in 50 starts with earnings of $2.4 million) and I Luv The Nitelife (17 wins in 25 stars with earnings of $1.9 million) in addition to other stakes winners over the years. I Luv The Nitelife was recently announced as the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year for 2013. They travel throughout the country to watch their horse’s race and are big supporters of the industry. Now the Young’s are on a different mission, one that has been involved in a series of hotly debated discussions for years but solutions have been far from being solved. The Young’s want every track and state racing commission that has harness racing to put a stop to drivers who over use the whip in races and take their feet and touch or kick their horse during a race. This all came about because someone did a blog on the internet last Fall, regarding the non compliance with the rules regarding kicking and whipping that woke Joanne Young up. The Young’s took the initiative and started asking and inquiring about the rules and regulations of various states. They sent letters and emails to major race and industry officials throughout the country and learned quite a bit. “I couldn’t tell you how many emails, letters and calls we made,” Joanne said. “ We got back some calls and about a half dozen emails and some of them were so encouraging. Most states have rules but track management and the judges need to enforce them and in some cases increase the fines and suspensions significantly so drivers will not abuse the horses as many do.” “Tracks and judges make their own rules and maybe give a fine after a couple of offenses.” Young said. “It’s like a slap on the wrist and some drivers may say it’s worth the fine to win the race because of the purse. Personally I don’t see why either method is used. These horses are bred to race and I don’t believe that a whip or a “kick” does anything to make the horse perform better. To those people that say the “kick” is nothing and does not hurt the horse, I say all you have to do is watch what happens to the driver’s leg when he comes into contact with the hock. The leg is forcefully pushed back and looks like kicking. So whatever you want to call it, it looks horrible and the public perceives it as abuse. For that reason alone it needs to be banned.” According The United States Trotting Association’s penalties that are suggestions as guidelines to pari-mutuel state gaming commission and racetracks are: “The penalty for kicking as defined herein shall not be less than 9 days suspension.” For excessive whipping the suggestion is, “The mandatory minimum penalty for a whipping violation shall be a fine in the amount of $100 and a 3 day suspension from driving for the first offense and for each subsequent violation the mandatory minimum penalty shall increase in the amount of $100 and 3 days (e.g. $200 and 6 days for the 2nd offense, $300 and 9 days for the 3rd offense, etc.)” “These rules are a joke and everyone in the harness racing business knows it, because either they are not enforced or the penalty is too lenient.” Joanne Young said. “ We want to see a cohesive rule that states that the right hand remain on the right line and the left hand remain on the left line during the race and that the feet must have no contact with the horse. “The penalty for not following these rules will be suspension for 2 months and a $5,000 fine,” Young continued, “or placement of the horse. We need to make the punishment harsh enough to stop the actions. Of course an easier fix is just to ban both practices immediately. Other countries have rules in place and no kicking or one handing whipping is allowed or tolerated. If the owners/drivers/trainers lose money you can bet that the drivers will stop immediately. We need to bring some credibility back to this sport.” Jeff Gural, the prominent owner and CEO of three racetracks, the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, wrote back and also talked with the Young’s about their quest and encouraged them with this scenario. “I met with the drivers before the start of the meet,” Gural said, “and told them anyone kicking a horse would not be allowed to drive at our tracks, period. No one complained. The whipping is tricky because to change the rule in NJ you need public hearings, etc. The drivers are opposed to this but we have implemented a temporary rule which has cut it way down, but I will back any effort to make the rules stricter.” Joanne has been in touch with the Ohio and Kentucky Racing Commission in regards to their recent rule changes. She is also in the midst of trying to get a rule change on the agenda with the New Jersey Racing Commission. The Young’s also have had encouraging conversations with prominent owners, drivers and trainers who are on board with rule changes and harsher penalties. Not everyone though wants to publicly share his or her personal views. According to Joanne, this is due to the fact that the “old school” of racing sees nothing wrong with the status quo and some fear repercussions. “We had one judge,” Richard Young said, “Who actually said he had no problem with a driver touching the hock or flank of a horse when racing and that as long as a driver did not slash a horse with a whip, it was okay. He said horses are tough and can take it. That just infuriated us to no end. How can anyone, especially, a racing judge, say something like that? “We want this movement to be in a positive light,” Joanne Young explained. “There is a public perception of abuse and we can and should stop it. It is an easy fix for the harness racing commissions to all agree to a cohesive and enforceable rule. I also believe the drivers would like the same rule for all the harness tracks making their job easier. The USTA is going to be meeting this March. If you a proponent of banning the kicking and one handed whipping please voice your opinion with them or contact me. All we need is for the racing commissions to agree, and we can finally put this controversial subject to rest.” By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
At its meeting of January 30, 2014, the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission approved the 2014 Horse Improvement Program (HIP) as recommended by the industry stakeholders and Program staff. Developed by the Thoroughbred and Standardbred Advisory Groups, the 2014 programs will offer significant incentives to breed and own horses in Ontario. For the most part, the upcoming season will mirror the 2013 programs, providing consistency along with some improvements. To view the full release, please use the link below: News Release - 2014 Horse Improvement Program Approved Wendy Hoogeveen Director, Industry Development and Support
The Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Program is on track to provide an exciting season of racing. Developed by the Standardbred Advisory Group and approved by the Ontario Racing Commission, the 2014 OSS program will offer over $16.6 million in purses and just over $2.1 million in Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired Rewards. To view the full release, please use the link below: News Release - 2014 Ontario Sires Stakes Program Announced Wendy Hoogeveen Director, Industry Development and Support
Harrisburg, PA --- The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission, in consultation with Dr. Mary Robinson, University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine, New Bolton Center, has announced that effective March 1 the pre-race medication Amicar will no longer be permitted to be used in conjunction with Furosemide. The commission has made this determination after reviewing the scientific data and information regarding the efficacy of Amicar as a pre-race medication. Accordingly, any findings of Amicar after March 1 from samples collected during routine testing will result in a positive test which may result in a fine and/or suspension and loss of any earned purse. From the Pennsylvania Harness racing Commission
The dispute over a simulcasting contract between management at Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen's Association has ended up with the simulcast signal being cut until an agreement can be reached. Below is a letter from Colonial Downs President Ian Stewart....... The Virginia Racing Commission ("VRC") has ordered 25 days of thoroughbred racing over five weeks for 2014, which is the same schedule that Colonial Downs conducted in 2013. The VRC reached its decision after long debate. The Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association ("the VaHBPA") is unwilling to accept the VRC's decision to race 25 days over five weeks. The current contract with the VaHBPA expired as of midnight on January 29, 2014. We have offered to sign the exact same contract as last year. We have also offered several alternatives in an attempt to accommodate their wishes. However, despite extensive efforts by Colonial Downs to reach a compromise, the VaHBPA has refused to sign a new contract. Consequently, we believe that our ability to accept wagers on thoroughbred races at our satellite wagering facilities may be severely restricted. We believe customers can continue to wager on thoroughbred horse races through account wagering and can continue to wager on standardbred racing in the SWFs. Without the ability to wager on thoroughbred races, we cannot keep our Alberta, Vinton, Martinsville and Scott County satellite wagering facilities open and they will be closing January 31, 2014 until we reach a contract resolution that will allow us to re-open them. Customers will still be able to wager on Standardbred races at our Richmond West Broad Street, Richmond Hurley's, Chesapeake Indian River Road and Hampton locations. In addition, we believe customers will continue to be able to wager on both thoroughbred and standardbred races through the four licensed account wagering providers, EZ Horseplay, TVG, Xpressbet and Twinspires. If you would like help opening an EZ Horseplay account, please see one of our staff members. Every effort has been made to work with the VaHBPA and I am very disappointed that we have reached this point. I hope this interruption of normal business will be brief and that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. Ian M. Stewart President
CBS Philly News has reported that Anthony Coletta's Family lawyer, Michael Barrett, says a judge Thursday gave his firm until February 21, 2014 to inspect the track. He says Harrah’s Philadelphia did not object to the motion. PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Attorneys from Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett, & Bendesky, P.C., representing critically injured harness racing driver Anthony Coletta, are seeking a court order to force the owners of Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack to permit a forensic investigation of the controversial track surface which has been linked to the horrific November 17, 2013 accident that nearly claimed the life of Mr. Coletta. Mr. Coletta's parents-guardians, Alfred and Rosemary Coletta, of Hammonton, New Jersey, turned to the Firm on behalf of their son to use all legal means necessary to determine what caused the accident, hold those responsible fully accountable for their actions, and ensure that no other drivers and their horses are put at risk. The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission last week temporarily suspended racing at the track due to concerns over the track surface – including its composition and maintenance - and Harrah's alleged failure to cooperate with the state's investigation. Attorneys Robert Mongeluzzi, Michael Barrett, and Joseph DeAngelo, of SMBB, are asking a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge to order Harrah's to permit their requested investigation of the track surface to proceed. A hearing on their request is scheduled for today, January 30, in City Hall. Harrah's lawyers have denied the inspection request to date. In addition, the filed Motion to Compel (January Term : 002714) seeks to compel Harrah's (actual defendants named in the Motion and Writ of Summons are: Chester Downs and Marina, LLC D/B/A Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack Inc., and Harrah's Chester Downs Management Co, LLC) to preserve all documents and physical evidence that could prove critical in their investigation on behalf of Mr. Coletta. The 31-year-old driver, engaged to be married later this year, suffered numerous fractures, brain and skull injuries as a direct result of being thrown from his sulky and then trampled. He remains hospitalized following several operations and is fully dependent on others for all forms of life care. He had been living in Hudson City, New Jersey. "Based on our preliminary investigation, including the Commonwealth's actions against the racetrack, we are very concerned about the potential destruction of evidence and, therefore, ask the Court to order our team of experts to conduct a complete on-site investigation by no later than February 7th," said Mr. Mongeluzzi. "If Harrah's is truly concerned about the welfare of the drivers and horses, and wishes to regain its suspended racing license, it should have no issues with our request." The track's racing season is scheduled to begin March 8th and the attorneys contend that economic motives on the part of the track operator are in conflict with the need to conduct a thorough investigation. Harrah's is a subsidiary of Las Vegas-headquartered Caesars Entertainment Corporation. "We need to know if the track was being maintained following best industry practices, because its troubled history would indicate otherwise," said Mr. Barrett. "If this was an accident waiting to happen, then Mr. Coletta, his family, and every other driver deserve to know why they've been put in harms way." Mr. DeAngelo noted that the Motion is supported by public statements of "several veteran harness drivers" to the effect that "the racetrack was defective in the area where the horse (in front of Mr. Coletta's) fell, and that Defendants were aware of the racetrack's condition and failed to remedy the condition despite requests from the harness drivers and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Today at the Pennsylvania State Harness Racing Commission in Hershey, PA, the commission said it has suspended Harrah's Philadelphia's 2014 race dates. Located in Chester, Pa., Harrah’s Philadelphia was scheduled to open its race meet on Friday, March 14. "The Harness Racing Commission has suspended race dates for 2014 for Harrah's Philadelphia until Harrah's Philadelphia complies with the Harness Racing Commission's requests," said Samantha Krepps, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. "Their license has not been suspended, the commission has suspended the issueing of Harrah's race dates." The official commission document outlining why Harrah's race dates for 2014 have been suspended reads as follows: "And now, this 23rd day of January, 2014, after having requested specific information from, Harrah's Philadelphia (Harrah's) regarding its proposed plan to address race track surface issues on numerous occasions and having received no substantive information or documentation from Harrah's, the Commission hereby suspends Harrah's 2014 race dates which this Commission previously approved on December 19, 2013. "The above race-date suspension shall continue until such time as the Commission and/or its staff receives the requested information or documentation from Harrah's." Barry Brown, Director of Racing Operations at Harrah’s Philadelphia, could not be reached for comment. By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
Trenton, NJ --- Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth, that allows permitholders (racetrack operators) to enter into agreements with their respective horsemen associations, such as the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association for harness racing and with the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, was signed into law by Gov. Christie on Tuesday (Jan. 21). Under the new law (A-3489), the runners will jointly decide how to utilize a portion of their racing purses in order to promote the racing industry. The approval concurs with Gov. Christie’s recommendations and affects racing at both the New Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. The New Jersey Racing Commission is required to approve all the contractual agreements between the parties. “Racetrack permitholders, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have a shared interest in ensuring the success of horse racing in New Jersey,” said Dancer, who has sponsored many pieces of bipartisan legislation designed to help make horse racing sustainable in the state. “This bill provides an opportunity to preserve and enhance the sport of horse racing and will lead to greater fan interest and wagering. The contractual requirement that stipulates all sides must agree as to the means of how this goal will be achieved, along with the oversight by the racing commission, are important components of the bill.” The amount of the racing purses, which is specified by statute, would not be affected. Also, any agreement would not be permitted to reduce the statutorily dedicated funds for programs designed to aid the horsemen and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association or for the administration of a health benefits program for the horsemen. “We are in a new era of horse racing in New Jersey. We are fortunate to have creative and talented private sector business people who love racing and believe it is viable in our state,” continued Dancer. “Giving them the flexibility to combine their skills in order to promote this sport is a sound strategy.” Dancer’s legislation is also sponsored by Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Ralph Caputo. The identical Senate bill, S-2540, received unanimous approval in June. From the New Jersey Assembly Republican Press Office
Today at the New Jersey Racing Commission meeting their official report will state that the Borgata is now the only casino in Atlantic City to offer horse racing simulcasting. As of New Year’s Eve, Bally’s Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat all ended having simulcasting. The once great Mecca on the east coast for gambling has come upon hard times over the past years and horse players are the first to feel the effects. Casinos in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland have taken their tolls on business along with online wagering sites. The casino operators state that profits from horse racing simulcasting have decreased to the point where it is no longer profitable to offer wagering on the horses so they have cut it out and thus are cutting their losses. About 12 miles from the casino strip in Atlantic City is Atlantic City Racecourse, which is also still offering simulcasting, but the majority of players who still enjoy watching and wagering on the ponies are flocking to the Borgata. In December the Borgata posted simulcast revenue of more than $133,000, which was equal to the total amount of revenue from the other four casinos that called it quits on simulcasting. Most casinos thrive on being able to offer their patrons the opportunity to wager on any and all events they can legally offer. One could consider having simulcasting a proper addition to a gaming venue to keep patrons happy, even at a break even or loss, but such is not the case in Atlantic City. Thus the Borgata’s simulcasting revenue has already begun to increase as they are now the only game in town if you want to bet on horse racing. It is hard to believe that in the coming months that only one casino in AC will offer wagering on the Kentucky Derby. I guess the lines will be out on the street that day to place a bet. Alan Mitchell has been in Atlantic City since simulcasting began at the casinos back in 1993. He was the former harness racing handicapper for the Philadelphia Inquirer for many years who still follows and plays the horses. “I just can’t believe there is only one casino in all of Atlantic City that has simulcasting,” Mitchell said. “Now there is no place on the boardwalk to place a bet. And all the numbers totaled leaves room for at least one casino on the boardwalk to have a racebook. “Harrah’s came in years ago and built the casino and harness racetrack in Chester,” Mitchell said, “So they have invested in racing to get the casino yet their four casinos in AC have stopped simulcasting. That does not make sense. They own a racetrack yet cut out wagering on it at their sister casinos. “The Delaware Valley area was always steeped in tradition for horse racing.” Mitchell explained. “Liberty Bell Park, Brandywine Raceway, Garden State Park, Atlantic City Racecourse, Keystone “Philadelphia” Park and Delaware Park all had successful meets and now only three tracks are left because they are in Pennsylvania and have casinos attached to them. But Harrah’s Philadelphia is the worst because they have never really tried to promote racing. The place is very poorly run. “Harness racing was always a great night time entertainment venue in Philadelphia,” Mitchell explained. “And Harrah’s could have been popular if they raced at night instead of during the day and go against the other local thoroughbred tracks. That was just plain ludicrous. They have the same caliber of horses and the same top drivers competing as does the Meadowlands in New Jersey. But the Meadowlands races at night and takes in $3.5 million in handle while Harrah’s Philadelphia goes during the day and takes in maybe $500,000. Harrah’s has the lights to race at night but in all these years they have never made an effort to try a nighttime race schedule. If they had they may have gotten thousands of people to come out for the races at night. “Harrah’s is not going to change what they are doing,” Mitchell said. “I predict they will put their track and casino on the market and try to get out of the racing business in Chester. If they do I hope someone comes along who will give it a try with night racing. It may not be a solution to the simulcasting ending at the casinos in Atlantic City, but perhaps once the other casinos see how well the Borgata can do being the only location in town to place a horse racing bet, other casinos may come back and reopen. We can only hope.” By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
DOVER, Del. ---- More than 300 horsemen, legislators and friends of harness racing turned out for the 17th annual Delaware Standardbred Owners Association (DSOA) Awards Dinner at Modern Maturity in Dover, Del. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. The annual DSOA meeting at mid-day preceded the awards-dinner and its early evening cocktail hour. As usual, the popular Heather Vitale served as Mistress of Ceremony and presented videos of award winning horses plus colorful, fun-filled videos of high spots of her weekly "Post Parade" programs on WBOC TV. The highlights of the 2013 racing seasons featured top horses of the Dover Downs and the Harrington Raceway meets. A silent auction to benefit Horse Lovers United, Inc., a Not-for Profit organization which provides a residence and care for retired horses, was held in conjunction with the banquet. In addition to leading horsemen and friends in attendance at the banquet were many of Delaware's top legislative executives. The list included Congressman John Carney; State Senators Dave Lawsom and Gary Simpson and State Legislative Representatives; Michael Barbieri, Don Blakey (who gave the pre-meal blessing), Gerald Brady, William Carson, Ronald Gray, John Kowalko, Bobby Outten, Michael Ramone, Danny Short, Jeff Spiegelman and Dave Wilson and former State Senator Nancy Cook, a longtime strong supporter of racing in the First State. Among those in attendance were Delaware Harness Racing Commission representatives, Beth Steele (Chair) and commission members Stephanie Liguori, Patricia Wagner and interim administrator, Mike Davis. Also present were USTA District Directors, Jim Boese, Russell MacKinnon and Dr. William Moffett, Introduced were the DSOA board of directors - President Andy Markano, Brenda Bramble, 1st vice president, Dr. William Moffett, 2nd vice president, Dr. William Moffett,, treasurer, Frank Diliberti, secretary, Frannie West and Sal DiMario, executive director and his staff, Denise Rothermel and Lisa Pearson. Other directors include, Frank Deliberti, George Dennis, Russell McKinnon, George Teague, Max Walton, Valerie Warnick, and directors emeritus, Dan Camac and Ralph Holloway. Also among the dignitaries were members of the media. DSOA 2013 award winners: The 3rd annual James T. Case Jr. DSOA Horizon Award (to a horseman making outstanding progress during year) was presented to harness driver Allan Davis, one of the sport's rising stars. Davis drove winners of around $600,000 in purses in 2012 and that figure mounted to $3,2-million in 2013. The James T. Case Jr. 1,000 Scholarship in memory of the longtime DSOA President was presented to Erica Brittingham, attending Del. Tech &U Community College majoring in Physical Education. Again this year, the DSOA gave out a total of $6,000 in Scholarship awards. The recipients of awards are Brent Ashley, Virginia Tech majoring in Dairy Animal Science; Amber Callahan, De. Tech & Community College major in Agriculture Business Management;; Brooke Gannon, a Nursing major at Wesley College; Kierston Gray, Wor-Wic Community College Major/Secondary Education/Counseling; Morgan Jewel, Wesley College, Education Major and Wade Z. Marsh, Duke University, major in Religious Studies & Divinity.. DSOA Horses Honored 2-Year-Olds: Trotters - (colt) Whichwayrightrleft (filly); Kelsey's Command; Pacers - (colt) Casino Bags Carlo, (filly) Seboomook Fool Yah 3-Year-Olds: Trotters - (colt) Triple Command, (filly) Starlit Eyes Pacers - (colt) Hot Roddy, (filly) Bags Of Stars DSOA Horses of the Meet - Dover Downs Horse of the Meet - Nova Artist Trotter of the Meet - Awsome Valley Claimer of the Meet - Lislea Miles Harrington Raceway Horse of the Year - People Are Crazy Trotter of the Year- Can Do Claimer of the Year - Lislea Miles The DSOA Special Appreciation Award was presented to Delaware representative Danny Short, a member of the Delaware Firefighters Hall of Fame, and Heroic Fireman of the Year Award A highly successful silent auction of harness memorabilia to benefit Horse Lovers United under the supervision of its founder, Lorraine Truitt, was supported for the care for horses whose racing careers had ended. A number of door prizes were also handed out. Marv Bachrad
Northfield, OH--Less than one month after the opening of the $265,000,000 Hard Rock Rocksino, Northfield Park has announced the creation of the $500,000 Carl Milstein Memorial to be raced on Friday, August 15, 2014. The Milstein Memorial is an early-closer for three-year-old-colt-and-gelding pacers. Northfield will add $250,000 to the purse, for an estimated $400,000 Final and a $100,000 Consolation. The top eight purse earners in 2014 that enter will make up the field for the final, with the next eight drawing into the consolation. Carl Milstein owned and operated Northfield from 1984 until his death in 1999. His son, Brock Milstein, took over as Chairman of Northfield Park upon his passing and is now the Chairman of Milstein Entertainment, LLC, majority owner of the Hard Rock Rocksino and Northfield Park. In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, which purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980's. The track lost significant amounts of money through that era before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984 Milstein successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and ran the race meetings in 1985. Over the next 15 years, Milstein was the driving force behind a resurgence of the beleaguered track, which ascended to among harness racing's top tracks in attendance and handle. He was an innovator in promotions and advertising and successfully led the track into the era of simulcast racing. "Of all my father's achievements over a fifty-year career, no business project was closer to his heart than the resurrection of Northfield Park," said Brock Milstein. "He would be immensely proud to host this great event here at Northfield Park." "Northfield Park is here today because Carl Milstein saved it," said Tom Aldrich, Vice Chairman of Milstein Entertainment. "He worked tirelessly to the end of his life to make Northfield a better place and a leader in the industry. The horsemen knew it, his employees knew it and, most importantly, the fans knew it. He is revered to this day." Dave Bianconi, Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting at Northfield, recalls that Mr. Milstein always respected hard work and the everyday challenges and rewards of racing year-round. "That's why we still race 214 dates," Bianconi laughed. "But he especially loved the excitement and pageantry of the big national events that brought the sport's best horsemen and horses to the Cleveland area. So it is fitting that this great three-year-old pace honors his memory." "We have talked about naming a race the 'Carl Milstein Memorial' for years," continued Bianconi. "But we didn't just want to re-name one of our existing stakes. When the opportunity came up to procure a top-level event for sophomore pacing colts in the heart of the summer, we jumped at the chance. To put Carl's name on it, it had to be our best race - an absolutely premier event. That is why we went all out with $250,000 added." Northfield plans on making the Carl Milstein Memorial an annual event. "Besides complementing our other major stakes in April, July and December [the $100,000 Courageous Lady, $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie and $150,000 Cleveland Classic, respectively], it is in a perfect spot between other major races on this year's three-year-old calendar," added Bianconi. "I just heard about the availability of that time frame for the race earlier this week. Thanks to Tom Charters and Callie-Davies Gooch at the Hambletonian Society for helping me make the race a reality for 2014." The first of four payments for the $500,000 Carl Milstein Memorial is a nominating fee due February 15. by Ayers Ratliff for Northfield Park
With Northfield Park in Ohio cancelling their live race card tonight due to the extreme cold weather, Dover Downs in Delaware is slated to be the only harness racing track in all of North America to have live racing today. It is very rare that only one Standardbred facility in all of North America is open. The extreme cold weather is wrecking havic throughout the United States and Canada on everything from living conditions, air travel and, of course, horse racing. In some states the Racing Commissions are telling tracks they must not have live racing due to the safety factor for the horses and drivers who would be exposed to the extreme conditions and they are correct in doing so. Other facilities have discussed racing with their horsemen's association and have jointly agreed to cancel. The forcast for Dover Downs this afternoon and evening is for a high of only 10 degrees with a wind chill factor of -10. But according to the race office this morning they are going to race. There is a lot of simulcasting revenue on the line for the only track in North America to be racing but hopefully the horses and drivers competing out in the freezing elements will be OK. By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) today announced the decision on a number of additional applications seeking variances to the assigned dates for 2014. In addition to previous applications from Woodbine Entertainment Group for Woodbine Standardbred, Western Fair Association and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) for Flamboro, dealt with by the Director in previous notices, applications to vary race dates were received from Rideau Carleton Raceway Holdings Ltd. and GCGC for Georgian Downs. The Director confirms and approves the schedule of race dates for the 1st quarter of 2014 as follows: Number of Race Dates approved for 1st Quarter Woodbine Racetrack 37 Premier Cards Western Fair 38 Signature Cards Flamboro Downs 52 Signature Cards Georgian Downs 0 Signature Cards (Approved to cancel 4 race date in early January) Rideau Carleton 14 Signature Cards (Approved for Sundays, January 12 through March 30, adding Thursdays starting March 20) Kawartha Downs Limited has advised the ORC that it will not be applying for a 2014 Licence to Operate a Racetrack. Therefore all race dates approved for Kawartha Downs have been cancelled. Additionally, as a result, the 2014 Home Market Areas for Telephone Account Betting formerly approved for Kawartha have been conditionally approved for Woodbine Racetrack, with all net revenues to be held in trust. Winrac Development Inc. did not submit a complete application for licence and therefore, all race dates approved for Dresden Raceway have been cancelled. Additionally, as a result, the 2014 Home Market Areas for Telephone Account Betting formerly approved for Dresden Raceway have been conditionally approved for Woodbine Racetrack, with all net revenues to be held in trust. Any teletheatres licences currently approved under Dresden Raceway’s 2013 Licence to Operate a Racetrack have not been issued for 2014. In accordance with Policy Directive 3-2007, all other race date calendars are approved based on previous approvals, but are subject to change where a racetrack operator or other interested party makes an application to vary the approved dates, which will be considered based on the strengths of the business plans submitted and the industry funding available. The Director is moving forward to implement the components of the 5 year Horse Racing Partnership (HRP) Plan, as recommended by the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel in its final report of October 2013. As part of that implementation, the Director is currently considering options related to a single operator of teletheatres and telephone account betting in the province, as recommended in the HRP. Decisions regarding implementation will be communicated in the coming weeks to ensure that such changes will come into effect April 1, 2014.