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An aggrieved harness racing bettor has gone to court to recoup more than $31,000 in winnings he said he was cheated out of when a doped horse won a race in New Jersey two years ago. Leading figures in harness racing said they had never before heard of such a lawsuit, which accuses the trainer of fraud and racketeering. The general practice is to reallocate the purse to other owners in the event a winning horse is later proven to have been doped, but not to pay back bettors. The trainer's lawyer said the lawsuit was flawed, and that he might demand its retraction. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, represents an effort by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to open the gates for more litigation by bettors, which the animal rights group hopes would dramatically curtail illegal horse doping. PETA contends that injured horses are sometimes dying on the tracks because they were doped illegally or overmedicated to keep them running when they should be recuperating. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jeffrey Tretter, an experienced gambler from Granite City, Illinois. The lawsuit says Tretter placed wagers through an online betting site on a harness race at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Jan. 15, 2016. The horses he picked to place first through fourth instead finished behind Tag Up and Go, who had been a longshot in the race. Meadowlands later revealed that Tag Up and Go had tested positive for EPO, a banned performance-enhancing substance, based on blood samples taken in December. As a result, trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr. was barred from competing at Meadowlands, but there was no redress for bettors such as Tretter. According to his lawsuit, he correctly picked the horses that finished second, third, fourth and fifth behind the doped horse in a variety of wagers that would have paid a combined $31,835 if Tag Up and Go had been disqualified. The lawsuit alleges fraud on the part of Bresnahan and the company that owned Tag Up and Go. It also alleges violations of the federal and state anti-racketeering laws known as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), contending that the federal law was violated because Bresnahan was engaging in interstate commerce. The suit asks that Tretter be recompensed for his lost winnings in the race and be awarded additional punitive damages. Bresnahan, who runs a stable in Manalapan, New Jersey, referred The Associated Press to his lawyer, Howard Taylor, who said the lawsuit would not hold up in court. According to Taylor, the testing involving Tag Up and Go has no official standing in the U.S. legal system because it was conducted at a racing lab in Hong Kong. He also said the suspension imposed by the Meadowlands on Bresnahan was the act of a private business, and did not represent any official finding of wrongdoing by the trainer. Taylor said he planned to contact the New Jersey law office representing Tretter, demanding that they retract the lawsuit and apologize to Bresnahan. "If not, we're looking into filing a suit for libel," Taylor said. In February 2016, Bresnahan issued a statement insisting he neither administered EPO to Tag Up and Go, nor authorized anyone else to do so. "This news was a complete shock to me and obviously very upsetting," he wrote. Shortly after that statement appeared, Meadowlands announced that a second horse of Bresnahan's had tested positive for EPO. Bresnahan also was fined and suspended for 60 days for illegally administering the painkiller oxymorphone to a horse called Mr. Caviar in 2012, according to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. The owner of Meadowlands, Jeff Gural, has been among the leaders in harness racing trying to curb doping. The Tag Up and Go doping case emerged through one of his initiatives, establishing "out of competition" drug testing that subjects horses to the possibility of testing at any time. But he said unscrupulous trainers are constantly changing tactics to avoid detection. "It's a cat and mouse game, the same as in human sports," Gural said. "They know what drugs are being tested for — they try to stay one step ahead." There has been some federal engagement in the fight against horse doping. For example, a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania last year won the conviction of a horse trainer at Penn National race track on charges of conspiring with three veterinarians to fraudulently administer prescription drugs for her horses on race days. There is also a bill pending in Congress that would establish a national anti-doping and medication authority for horse racing in the U.S., operated under the oversight of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, known as USADA. The bill, introduced in the House last year, has not advanced out of committee. Gural said he supports the bill as a needed step toward standardizing rules that now vary among the 38 different racing jurisdictions in the U.S. Many leading harness racing figures oppose the bill, including Mike Tanner, CEO of the U.S. Trotting Association. "There are too many holes in it," said Tanner, who worries that the bill would impose significant new costs on owners to underwrite additional drug testing. PETA is critical of horse racing, but is pushing for reforms rather than actively campaigning for an all-out ban. The group hopes the lawsuit will curtail doping. "Horses continue to be drugged, bettors get cheated, and trainers get slaps on the wrist," said PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo. "Maybe if they're hit squarely in the wallet, they will pay attention and stop hurting horses." By David Crary Reprinted with permission of ABC News

MANALAPAN, NJ -- April 23, 2016 -- William Leo Bresnahan, 83, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., died April 17, 2016, with family by his side. Mr. Bresnahan was born in Asbury Park, N.J., on Dec. 23, 1932 and raised in Freehold. He attended Freehold High School where he met the love of his life, Elizabeth (Betty) Hemphill. He was the owner of Freehold Dairy Inc., World Class Transportation and was a managing partner and breeder of Fair Acres Farm. He resided in Freehold and Manasquan before retiring to Florida. Mr. Bresnahan's favorite pastimes were harness racing, playing tennis, coaching baseball and basketball and being on the sidelines cheering on his grandchildren at sporting events. He loved to travel and visited every state in the USA. He was a devout Catholic, member of the Knights of Columbus, president of the Isle of Tuscany in the Kings Isle Retirement Community and an officer of the Funseekers club. He is survived by his wife, Betty; sons, William, Robert (Doreen), Brian (Lynette), Barry (Trisha), Bruce and Barney (Michelle); daughters, Barbara (Mike) Delucia, Liz (Jerry) Lubin and Brenda Oakes (partner Joe Andolpho); sister, Dorothy Petta; 22 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Hannah and William; son, Brady Paul; granddaughter, Shyanne; and sister, Audrey Fitch. Friends and family are invited to visit on Sunday (April 24) from 4-8 p.m. at the Freeman Funeral Home, 47 East Main Street, Freehold. A memorial mass will be held at St. Rose of Lima on Monday (April 25) at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.   From Freeman Funeral Home

FREEHOLD, NJ -- April 15, 2016 – Veteran harness racing driver Anthony "Tony" Dandeo , 80 years old, drove the winner of the 10th race at Freehold Raceway Friday.  Coming first up at the half mile marker, Dandeo took the front and never looked back, steering Micky Blu to her 16th lifetime win in 1:57.4, the last quarter in 29.3. Micky Blu paid $13.40 to win. The seven-year-old mare by McArdle is trained and owned by Robert Bresnahan, Jr. Dandeo added another win to his driving career which totals 233 wins and $783,758 in purses won. by Courtney Stafford

The venerable Saint William A shared the harness racing spotlight with the Down Under import Benjaminbanneker N Saturday night at The Downs at Pocono Downs by winning the richest and fastest race of the night respectively.   The highest purse race on the card, an $18,000 pace for top-level claiming handicap pacers which kicked off the program, was won by the oldest horse racing Saturday at The Downs, 13-year-old Saint William A, who perhaps not totally coincidentally paid off at 13-1 as he won for driver/owner Larry Stalbaum and trainer Kim Asher. Last week the son of Presidential Ball was blocked until late in the stretch, then came on swiftly; this week his prayers for earlier clearance were answered at headstretch, and he stormed down the Pocono Pike to defeat favored Forego The Cigar in 1:52.3 and raise his lifetime bankroll to almost $680,000.   Later in the card Stalbaum almost pulled off another upset, guiding Bestjetyet to fractions of 26.3, 54.1, and 1:22.1 in a $14,000 conditioned pace, but Bennajminbanneker N came from second-over to get a half-length decision in 1:51.3. An altered son of Washington VC (Dave Palone's only winning drive in an Adios Final, for Pennsylvania harness trivia fans), Benjaminbanneker N, who was named after a free African American of the 18th century whose surveying helped set the borders of Washington DC, was triumphant at The Downs for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr., and owner J L Sadovsky LLC.   George Napolitano Jr. wound up with six driving victories on the card ... Jim Morrill Jr. stayed at four.   Tomorrow is the first Sunday card of the year at Pocono Downs, with a new Sunday night post time this year of 7:30 p.m. The program will feature the initial 2016 action of the Bobby Weiss Series of early-closers for developing youngsters, with five $15,000 divisions of male pacers and four for female pacers.   PHHA / Pocono    

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