WILKES-BARRE PA - The fourth and final preliminary leg of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series for harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies was held at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Friday night, with all three favorites winning and some idea of the Stallion Series Championship qualifiers developing. In the first cut, Somenicebeach made easy work of her career stakes debut by leading at every call en route to taking a new mark of 1:52. McVita Bella who *preliminary* calculated to be the Stallion Series pointsleader (*all official figures will come from the Harrisburg office of the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission*) was second to the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, who was guided by Pocono's leading driver George Napolitano Jr. for trainer Chris Oakes and owner Susan Oakes. Jim Morrill Jr. was in the sulky behind the other two winners, first with the Real Desire filly Real Drama, who was a pocket rocket in reducing her speed tab to 1:52.3. Kelly O'Donnell conditions the winning filly for the Bay Pond Racing Stable. Real Drama won her cut by three lengths; Morrill had much harder work in the third division, as he and the Well Said filly Lucy's Pearl rallied gamely from the two-hole to edge stubborn pacesetter Beach Body by a half-length in the fastest time, 1:50.3. "Trotting Guru" Ron Gurfein may train more pacers if he continues to bring out tough misses like this one, who is owned by Gurfein in partnership with Elizabeth Novak. After careful math (and again we STRESS these are NOT official figures), the following pointstandings (based on a 35-25-15-10-8-5-4-2-1 distribution) for the PAStS 3PFs emerge: 1. McVita Bella, 120; 2. Lucy's Pearl, 105; 3. Eiffel Tower, 4. Real Drama (both had 95 points, but Eiffel Tower wins the money tiebreaker $25,000 to $21,600); 5. Do Your Job, 6. Stucklikeglue (both with 70 points, Do Your Job with more money $20,000 to $12,200); 7. Beach Body, 65; 8. Baby Cat, 64; tie 9. Marathon Day and Oogle Google (both tied at both 60 points and $15,000 in earnings; if needed to split them, there would be a shake of the pills). The top nine declaring in will advance to the Stallion Series Championship, to be held at The Meadows on September 9.
The family of Wendy Hoogeveen has advised the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) that there will be a private family-only ceremony. They went on to say that, at an appropriate time, friends might gather in celebration of her life. The ORC will remain in touch with her family and will share these details as they unfold. This has clearly been a difficult time for Wendy’s family. Please continue to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. The last few days also have been difficult for all those who worked with Wendy. If industry members are comfortable doing so, please take the time to share your fond memories of Wendy. The ORC has opened a special email address. memoriesofWendy@ontariohorseracing.ca All comments will be shared privately with Wendy's family who no doubt will enjoy hearing the stories and memories that we have all experienced over our years. Steven Lehman Executive Director
Summerside PE - Eight of the Maritimes best free-for-all pacers are set to rock and roll Saturday night in the richest ever Governor's Plate presented by Summerside Chrysler Dodge. The Bell-Aliant Race Day show will carry all of the action live from the Prince County oval sponsored by City of Summerside and Journal Pioneer. The broadcast gets underway at 6:30pm AST. The 46th edition of Summerside's most prestigious race will carry a purse of $25,000, the 14-dash card gets underway at 7 pm. Elimination 1 winner Red Rock has been saddled with post 6 for owners Donald, Bryan and Steven MacRae of Vernon Bridge and Melissa Trainor. Red Rock had an eventful elimination journey, he finished second but was placed first after the MPHRC (Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission) judges deemed the winner of the elimination D Gs Camme caused interference at the eighth pole and was placed back to second. Jason Hughes did the driving and training. This week he will hand the lines to Summerside native Gary Chappell as he looks to win his first ever Governor's Plate. Hughes was forced to pick off the elimination 1 winner after becoming the first trainer to ever have three horses qualify for the Governor's Plate final. The other two entries from the Hughes brigade are owned by Foxyhall Racing. Astor has drawn post 2 for Hughes and Narragansett will leave from post 7 with the youngest driver in the field Corey MacPherson doing the driving. D Gs Camme has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice. The 4-year-old Blissful Hall gelding has lucked out at the draw again this week. He will leave from Post 1 for the second week in a row. Gilles Barrieau who has won the previous two Governor's Plates, will look to complete the natural hat trick, when he teams up with trainer Jackie Matheson. The Matheson - Barrieau connection were successful in winning the 2012 edition with Mcapulco. Modern Xhibit has drawn post 3 as he looks to make history for his trainer Jonah Moase. At just 18-years-old a Governor's Plate victory with Modern Xhibit would make him the youngest trainer to ever hoist the Plate. Moase will rely on the Maritimes leading dash winner this season Marc Campbell to make the history unfold. Judge Jon was a bang up second place finisher in his Elimination on Monday night, he will line up right behind the car, post 4, on Saturday night as he looks to get his driver Mike Stevenson back to the Governor's Plate winner circle, after last winning the race 10 years ago with Igoddago. Anthony Stymest does the training. Machinthesand has drawn post 5 for owners Russell and Karen Noonan, he finished fourth in his elimination for Campbell, but he has committed to drive Modern Xhibit. Trainer Mark Bradley will call on Brodie MacPhee to do the driving. Luck was on the side of the Ultimate stable's Ultimate Luck, he has drawn into the coveted final, but his luck ran out at the draw. Ultimate Luck has drawn the outside post 8 for trainer Sifroi Melanson and driver Kenny Arsenault. The $9,250 Lobsterfest Final for open mares highlights the undercard with elimination winner Stayoutofmyaffair drawing the trailing post 9 for Hughes. The eight-year-old daughter of Astreos was the fastest winner of the three divisions for owner Robi Hughes of Stratford, stopping the clock in 1:57. The Barrieau - Matheson connection are together in the Lobsterfest Final with a newcomer to the Maritimes, For All We Know. She is 3-1 after winning her elimination in 1:58.1. Owned by Bruce Wood of Charlottetown the gigantic daughter of Rocknroll Hanover gets post 3. It's been three years since the 6 entry Onehottvett has won the Lobsterfest final. She picked up the victory in the third division for trainer - driver Wade Sorrie. On Saturday he will turn the reins over to National Driving Championship finalist Ryan Ellis. Keystone Nobility ( Post 1), Firstclassflight ( Post 2 ), Silky Britches ( Post 4 ), Brodys Leona ( Post 5 ) and There Paid For ( Post 7 ) round out the field. Race 9 will see one of the classiest horses to ever race in the Maritime free-for-alls, Outlawpositivcharg, take his final tour around his hometown oval. The 'East Coast Warrior' will lead the post parade for the Outlawpositivcharg Governor's Plate Consolation. Touch Of Lightning has drawn the rail in a compact field of five for the veteran driver - trainer Earl Smith. The winner of $127,562 in Maritime earnings is owned by Peter and Don Smith, Gerald Morrissey and Larry Chappell. Blissful Bro ( Campbell), Cheyenne Ford ( Arsenault ), Likely To Win ( Ellis ), Carrera Angel (Rocky Schurman ) complete the field. For the complete list of entries, results or live broadcast go to www.redshores.ca by Bo Ford, for Red Shores
In accordance with Section 25 of the Racing Commission Act, 2000, the Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has conditionally cancelled Sudbury Downs' ORC licence effective June 30, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. There are certain financial terms and conditions that Sudbury Downs must meet before the licence is cancelled. For more information, please review the Notice posted on the ORC website by clicking here. Ontario Racing Commission
ABBOTT WAS DEPORTED FROM THE USA IN 2003
COLUMBUS, OH --- The good news for Ohio racing fans is that Rompaway Galaxy is starting off 2014 just like he finished last season. But that's bad news for the connections of other 3-year-old male trotters in the Buckeye State. He promises to be a heavy favorite in his Ohio Sires Stakes at Scioto this afternoon. Each of the four OSS events go for a $40,000 purse. Last year Rompaway Galaxy dominated the Ohio Sire Stakes, winning all four legs and the final. His only loss of the season came in an Ohio Breeders Stake at Scioto when he got trapped behind a tiring leader and was beaten by a head by Soul Train. Otherwise he was perfect in his eight starts and he wrapped up his season by winning the $150,000 Ohio Sires Stakes final with a 1:57.4 mile, his personal best. An indication of how impressive Rompaway Galaxy has been is that he's been made the odds-on favorite every time after his first career start. This year Rompaway Galaxy signaled his readiness with an impressive win in the $40,000 Ohio Sires Stakes opening leg at Miami Valley Racing. In that event, he was parked from post nine for a long way before clearing to the front and making a mockery of his pursuers with his 1:58 win. His margin was 6-1/2 lengths. Rompaway Galaxy heads the 11th race on the 15-race holiday card at Scioto. He starts from post two with rival Soul Train in post 10 in the second tier. Rompaway Galaxy is owned by Rompaway Farms of Michigan and is trained by Krista Harmon. Mike Micallef handles the reins. He is a son of Rompaway Wally. Harmon said that gelding the youngster as a 2-year-old helped him focus on his business. That decision and his abundant natural made him into a champion. Micallef noted that the trotter is bigger this season and yet still has the speed and ability that gave him dominance over his rivals last season. The other division for Ohio-sired trotting sophomore males is headed by Can'tcutthatchip, a winner three times in five starts this season with a best time of 1:57.4. He is a slight favorite over nine rivals. There are two pacing splits for Ohio-sired sophomore pacers. Friskie Adam is seeking to make it five straight wins this season for trainer Dan Ater and his son Kyle, who will handle the driving chores. He's already won in 1:53.2f this year and his rivals will be hard-pressed to match strides with the son of Feelin Friskie. The other pacing division features Big Bossman, a winner in 1:55.3f this season in a trio of starts. Greg Grismore drives for trainer Doug Hinklin. Post time at Scioto for the Memorial Day program is 1 p.m.The other Ohio Sires Stakes for soph trotting males features a well-balanced field of 10 with Can'tcutthatchip the narrow favorite in the morning line on the basis of three wins in five starts this season, the fastest in 1:57.4. Friskie Adam, unbeaten in four starts in 2014, is a heavy favorite to defeat six challengers in his Ohio Sires Stakes pacing event. Kyle Ater will be steering him for his father, trainer Dan Ater. The son of Feelin Friskie sports a 1:53.2f mark this season. Big Bossman gets the favorite's role in the other pacing split as Greg Grismore will drive him for trainer Doug Hinklin. He's a 1:55.3f winner this year in three starts, but will have nine others trying to beat him to the wire.The other Ohio Sires Stakes for soph trotting males features a well-balanced field of 10 with Can'tcutthatchip the narrow favorite in the morning line on the basis of three wins in five starts this season, the fastest in 1:57.4. Friskie Adam, unbeaten in four starts in 2014, is a heavy favorite to defeat six challengers in his Ohio Sires Stakes pacing event. Kyle Ater will be steering him for his father, trainer Dan Ater. The son of Feelin Friskie sports a 1:53.2f mark this season. Big Bossman gets the favorite's role in the other pacing split as Greg Grismore will drive him for trainer Doug Hinklin. He's a 1:55.3f winner this year in three starts, but will have nine others trying to beat him to the wire. The other Ohio Sires Stakes for soph trotting males features a well-balanced field of 10 with Can'tcutthatchip the narrow favorite in the morning line on the basis of three wins in five starts this season, the fastest in 1:57.4. Friskie Adam, unbeaten in four starts in 2014, is a heavy favorite to defeat six challengers in his Ohio Sires Stakes pacing event. Kyle Ater will be steering him for his father, trainer Dan Ater. The son of Feelin Friskie sports a 1:53.2f mark this season. Big Bossman gets the favorite's role in the other pacing split as Greg Grismore will drive him for trainer Doug Hinklin. He's a 1:55.3f winner this year in three starts, but will have nine others trying to beat him to the wire. Dean A. Hoffman, for the Ohio State Racing Commission
Standardbred horsemen Alvin Callahan and Marvin Callahan each were suspended five years and fined $5,000 by the New Jersey Racing Commission for their role in a March 1 Jersey Turnpike rest stop incident in which they admitted to injecting drugs into two horses scheduled to compete later that night at Meadowlands racetrack. A third individual involved, groom John Hollingsworth, was suspended one year and fined $1,000 for assisting in the prohibited activity. As detailed last month by the Paulick Report, the men, who were transporting three horses from a private training facility to the racetrack by horse van to race that night, were under surveillance by Brice Cote, head of security for Meadowlands. Cote observed the van pull off the Turnpike into a service area, enter the back of the van for a short time, and then discard a paper bag into a trash can. Cote retrieved the bag, which contained used syringes. To read the rest of the story click here.
Columbus, OH --- The annual convocation of directors of the United States Trotting Association got underway Sunday afternoon (March 30) in Columbus, Ohio. With Chairman of the Board Ivan Axelrod presiding, the assembled directors heard from Robert Schmitz, chairman of the Ohio Racing Commission. Schmitz spoke on the importance of harness racing to the Ohio economy and the support of Governor John Kasich in recognizing racing’s roots in the farm community. In remarks video streamed live to members on www.ustrotting.com, President Phil Langley updated the group on the USTA’s efforts to work with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in developing model rules and medication guidelines without overlooking the differences in breeds. Usage patterns and racing patterns have highlighted some major differences between the less-frequently raced Thoroughbreds versus Standardbreds, who often race weekly. There were no challengers to the existing slate of USTA officers, which will remain: Phil Langley, president; Ivan Axelrod, chairman of the board; Russell Williams, vice chairman; Dick Brandt, treasurer and Barbara Brooks, secretary. Rob Key, CEO and founder of Converseon, updated the group on the social media platforms that have been developed, including a centralized harness racing website, www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com, which recently was unveiled with a “100 Greatest Moments in Harness Racing” interactive contest. He emphasized that it was a joint venture among the USTA, Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Harness Writers Association. The Harness Racing Fan Zone (@harnessracingFZ on Twitter) mirrors similar platforms offered by major league sports, like Major League Baseball, the National Football League and NASCAR. “The foundation is in place,” said Key. “We need to spend time on transparency and openness and create communities.” Key predicted the new website would, “give people a feel for what it's like to be in the sport.” He spoke about the social media ambassador’s platform that has been created for participants to share their experiences in the sport. Moving forward, tracks will be urged to partner with the Fan Zone in order to significantly expand awareness and interest in harness racing. A replay of the full board session may be viewed by clicking here or on the link at the top of the story. Committee meetings followed, with rule changes considered in the Fairs, Pari-Mutuel, Regulatory and Registration Committees. Further discussion of rule change proposals will take place Monday in the Rules Committee and the final vote will be rendered at the meeting of all directors Monday afternoon. by Ellen Harvey for Harness Racing Communications
Columbus, OH --- The 2014 USTA annual meetings are scheduled for Sunday (March 30) and Monday (March 31) at the Hilton Columbus at Easton in Columbus, Ohio. Following Rules and Executive Committee meetings in the morning on Sunday, the Board of Directors general session, which will be streamed live on the USTA website (www.ustrotting.com), will begin at 12:30 p.m. (EDT). Keynote speaker for the general session will be Ohio State Racing Commission Chairman Robert Schmitz. Among the topics on the agenda are: the introduction of new USTA directors, proclamations and recognition of former directors, an election of officers, the president’s report from Phil Langley and executive vice president’s report from Mike Tanner, a financial report, presentation/vote on revised bylaws, and rule change proposals. The final item on the general session agenda will include a discussion of medication rules and a presentation on harness racing’s social media initiative by Rob Key, CEO of Converseon, the USTA’s social media marketing agency. Meetings are scheduled Sunday afternoon and Monday morning involving the following committees: Fairs, Pari-Mutuel, Regulatory, and Registration-Owners/Breeders on Sunday and Driver/Trainer, Finance, Rules and Communications/Marketing on Monday. The President’s Awards luncheon honoring 2014 recipients Bob Carson and Gabe Wand will be held on Sunday at 11:45 a.m. The 2014 USTA annual meetings will conclude with a general session commencing at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on Monday that will include committee reports, ad hoc committee assignments, approval of the budget, and announcement of the location and dates for the 2015 annual meetings. All USTA members are welcome to attend the meetings with the exception of the Executive Committee, which is limited to committee members only. Visit www.ustrotting.com for the live video stream of Sunday’s Board of Director’s general session from 12:30–3 p.m. (EDT) as well as daily recaps of the important news from the meetings. From the USTA Communications Department
The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) announced that there has been a report of EHV-1 in a Thoroughbred that is residing in Barn 10 at Woodbine Racetrack, but that Standardbred racing is not affected by the situation. Today (March 18) ) the ORC issued the announcement on behalf of Dr. Adam Chambers, who is manager of Veterinary Services at the ORC. The contents of the release appear below. EQUINE HERPES CASE Restrictions in place. Training at Woodbine to continue; Standardbred racing not affected. There has been a report of EHV-1 in a five-year-old thoroughbred filly residing in Barn 10 at Woodbine Racetrack. The horse showed neurological signs on Thursday, March 13 but did not have a fever. The horse was removed from Woodbine to isolation on Saturday, March 15. The horse’s condition is stable. Results from tests available today showed non-neurotropic EHV-1 in blood but not nasal secretions. This is an unusual testing result and the horse has been retested. The risk of transmission to other horses may be low, as the infection is spread by nasal secretions. There have been no reports of any other sick horses in barn 10. Sporadic incidents of infection occur not infrequently and can be isolated incidents. The non-neurotropic form of EHV-1 identified from this horse differs from the neurotropic form identified from thoroughbreds at Woodbine in June of last year. Although the both types of EHV-1 can cause neurological disease the non-neurotropic strain is thought to be less likely to do so. EHV-1 has an incubation period of approximately 3 to 8 days, and may in some cases be as long as 14 days. Given these facts, the following measures will be in place, effective immediately: All horses must have their temperatures taken twice daily. Trainers with horses that have clinical signs consistent with EHV-1 infection (including fever (101.5 F/38.5 C or above), respiratory signs (cough, nasal discharge and/or neurological signs) must report these findings to their veterinarian immediately; Horses from Barn 10 will be allowed to train at the end of training hours; Only ponies housed in Barn 10 will be allowed to pony horses in Barn 10; Horsepeople are reminded to remain vigilant and institute appropriate biosecurity measures and should consult their veterinarians for advice. Standardbred horses are not stabled at Woodbine Racetrack. As well, the standardbred racing meet at Woodbine will not be impacted by these measures. To ensure best practices are in place to contain the disease, the ORC received input from experts from the University of Guelph and University of California at Davis, the office of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF). The ORC will also continue to work closely with Woodbine management, veterinarians and horse people. The ORC will monitor the situation and any further developments will be reported.
Talks are getting underway at Sudbury Downs to draw up a blueprint for the harness racing season ahead — but some are worried there aren't enough horses to make a go of it this year. This was reported today by CBC News in Canada. Horse racer and driver Paul MacLean said he is waiting to hear if there will be enough races at Sudbury Downs to make his participation financially feasible. Last year, the province cut the slots revenue that used to flow to racetracks in Ontario. Last season, only 22 races were held in Sudbury. There used to be more than 60. Paul Maclean, a Sudbury Downs harness driver, has sold 12 horses and is down to three. He estimates the number of race horses in the region is down almost half, compared to a year ago. (Megan Thomas/CBC) Maclean said he sold a dozen of his horses, and now he's down to just three. His resulting drop in earnings was especially hard in after he had recently made some major purchases. “Everything [was] new: [I bought a] new tractor trailer … [upgraded my] horses, new house, [then], all of a sudden, you get cut off at the knees by the Ontario government when they announce … their program is ending.” Maclean said if there are any fewer than 30 races this season, he probably won't continue. But he remains hopeful. “Sudbury is one of the … important tracks across Ontario that provide racing in the summer season and that traditionally is 20 race days per year.” Purse money 'available' The consultant with the Ontario Racing Commission who's in negotiations with Sudbury Downs said he's distributing the transitional funding — and Sudbury has some savings tucked away. “There's plenty of purse money available,” John Snobelen said. “The question is, again, how it would be used and what kind of horses would run and when and over what kind of season?” Sudbury is eligible for some transitional funding and can share in the $8 million being disbursed to other regional tracks in the province this year. Sudbury Downs owner Pat MacIsaac has declined to comment on the matter while the negotiations are underway.
The New York Gaming Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a rule requiring horsemen to notify track personnel within 72 hours of a horse being gelded ontrack, during a meeting in which the commission also approved a rule allowing Standardbred horses to be administered clenbuterol up to 96 hours before a race. The rule requiring notification of a first-time gelding builds on an existing Jockey Club rule that requires horsemen to “promptly” report the information to the industry’s registry, which maintains records that are on file in racing offices. New York Gaming Commission officials said similar rules had been put in place in Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma, and that the rule would “protect New York horseplayers.” Although no specific penalties are attached to violations of the regulation, the New York rule would require trainers to notify the racing secretary at the track where the procedure is performed within 72 hours of the operation. If the procedure is performed offtrack, the rule requires the owner or trainer of the horse “to report the alteration at or before the time the horse is entered to race.” Many horses are gelded to improve performance. The commission approved the 96-hour rule for administration of the bronchodilator clenbuterol as a concession to Standardbred interests who had argued that a proposal to prohibit the administration of the drug within 14 days of a race would be a de facto ban. The commission had already approved the 14-day rule for Thoroughbreds as part of an overhaul of the state’s drug rules aligned with an effort by other states to adopt uniform regulations. Racing commissions in the United States have sought to tighten clenbuterol rules over the past several years because of the drug’s potential to build muscle mass when used regularly. Dr. Scott Palmer, the gambling commission’s equine medical director, said at th The New York Gaming Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a rule requiring horsemen to notify track personnel within 72 hours of a horse being gelded ontrack, during a meeting in which the commission also approved a rule allowing Standardbred horses to be administered clenbuterol up to 96 hours before a race. The rule requiring notification of a first-time gelding builds on an existing Jockey Club rule that requires horsemen to “promptly” report the information to the industry’s registry, which maintains records that are on file in racing offices. New York Gaming Commission officials said similar rules had been put in place in Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma, and that the rule would “protect New York horseplayers.” Although no specific penalties are attached to violations of the regulation, the New York rule would require trainers to notify the racing secretary at the track where the procedure is performed within 72 hours of the operation. If the procedure is performed offtrack, the rule requires the owner or trainer of the horse “to report the alteration at or before the time the horse is entered to race.” Many horses are gelded to improve performance. The commission approved the 96-hour rule for administration of the bronchodilator clenbuterol as a concession to Standardbred interests who had argued that a proposal to prohibit the administration of the drug within 14 days of a race would be a de facto ban. The commission had already approved the 14-day rule for Thoroughbreds as part of an overhaul of the state’s drug rules aligned with an effort by other states to adopt uniform regulations. Racing commissions in the United States have sought to tighten clenbuterol rules over the past several years because of the drug’s potential to build muscle mass when used regularly. Dr. Scott Palmer, the gambling commission’s equine medical director, said at the commission meeting that the 96-hour rule will still prevent Standardbred horsemen from using the drug for this so-called “repartitioning effect” because most harness horses run once per week, and because any Standardbred horse who has not raced for 30 days will be prohibited from being administered the drug within 14 days prior to its first race back. alled “repartitioning effect” because most harness horses run once per week, and because any Standardbred horse who has not raced for 30 days will be prohibited from being administered the drug within 14 days prior to its first race back. To read the rest of the story click here.
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