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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

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  

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