In This Issue

Breaking News 23rd horse dies at Santa Anita

USHRAA Newsletter

April, 2019
​​Issue - 009

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  • Still An Unacceptable Situation
        by Monica Bencal​ 
  • The Way it Was
        by Bob Marks
  • What Happens When Too Many People Benefit from One Person’s Cheating
        by Charles Martino
  • A Horse-First Bill: 2019 Horseracing Integrity Act
         by Blood-horse
  • To Prosper, Horse Racing Needs Comprehensive Reform
​         From the Jockey Club
  • Rescued horses return the favor, helping veterans in need
         by Carol Watson Correspondent
  • Racing at Another Crossroad, Part 1
         by John Pricci with Mark Berner
  • Part 2: Time for Jockey Club to Take Lead
        by John Pricci with Mark Berner​
  • Racing exec worries sport could face consequences similar to that of SeaWorld over treatment of horses
         by Andre Coleman
  • Association Of Racetrack Veterinarians, HBPA: Curtailing Lasix Won’t Reduce Injury Rates
         by NAARV
  • PETA Statement regarding the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians’ Opposition to Santa Anita’s Phase Out of the Medication Lasix
​         From PETA
  • Statistics of Importance
         From the Standardbred Retirement Foundation
  • ​Info Bulletin No. 70 – Ban on Race Day Medication: Introduction of a Standards-Based Rule
         From AGOC
  • Ruling On Appeal Panel Jurisdiction
         From Judicial Review
  • New York Gaming Commission Warns Horsemen ‘No Generally Accepted Medical Use Of A Bisphosphonate’ In Horses Under Four
         From NYCRR
  • Harness Horse Youth Foundation 2019 Schedule 
  • A Way of Life Review
         by Joe Fitzgerald

23rd Horse dies at Santa Anita

Another horse dies at Santa Anita, marking 23rd death this season
by City News Service

SANTA ANITA, Calif. — Another racehorse died at Santa Anita Park Sunday, the 23rd horse death at the facility in just over three months.

Arms Runner, a 5-year-old horse who won his last race at the park on Jan. 27, suffered a severe and ultimately fatal injury to his right front leg in Sunday’s Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes on turf, resulting in a two-horse spill.

The trailing horse, La Sardane, fell but was quickly on her feet, the Daily Racing Forum reported. The spill occurred just as the horses were about to re-enter the turf portion of the course that starts at the top of a hillside and has a crossover point on dirt.

Arms Runner was trained by Peter Miller and owned by Rockingham Ranch. He had made $124,941 in 12 starts before Sunday.
Santa Anita officials said they would issue a comment shortly.

Racing had just resumed Friday at the famed Arcadia track, one day after the California Horse Racing Board approved restrictions on certain medications administered to the animals. The track was closed for most of this month while officials inspected the track and formulated the new regulations.

Officials with People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued the following statement Sunday:

“Over the past two weeks, Thoroughbred owners and trainers and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) have argued about medications, whipping, and the public perception of horse racing. But they did not take every measure needed to protect the horses. Both horses (who went down) ran on the drug Lasix, which is known to cause dehydration and electrolyte loss,” PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said. “All drugs need to be banned entirely, and the known-safest racing surface — a synthetic track — must be used. Furthermore, PETA calls on Governor Newsom to urgently form an independent panel to investigate the training and veterinary practices in California racing, including the use of bisphosphonates and other medications that reportedly have been used indiscriminately. If the CHRB does not take every possible action to protect the horses, then racing should not be allowed to continue.”

Arms Runner 23rd horse to die at Santa Anita

The CHRB approved previously announced proposals to strictly limit the use of anti-inflammatory medications on horses. It also approved a much- discussed 50 percent reduction in the allowable amount of Lasix, a diuretic that helps prevent horses from hemorrhaging. Santa Anita officials had initially proposed a ban on Lasix, but struck a compromise with the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the California Thoroughbred Trainers calling for a 50 percent reduction in allowable dosage.

Santa Anita officials previously announced a series of other measures being implemented to help bolster safety of the horses, including:

  •  Complete transparency of all veterinary records;
  • Trainers must apply for permission to work a horse (a timed, high- speed training exercise) at least 48 hours in advance;
  • No therapeutic medications of treatments will be allowed without a qualified veterinary diagnosis from a state licensed veterinarian;
  • Significant and strict out-of-competition testing;
  • Increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race; and
  • A substantial investment by The Stronach Group in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.

Those measures, however, did not prevent animal-advocacy groups from protesting the resumption of racing at Santa Anita, who point to the dangers they say are inherent in the sport.

In My Opinion

Still An Unacceptable Situation
By Monica Bencal

If you read my column last month you heard all about my efforts to re-home the last standardbred my husband Bob trained. His name was Genius At Work, and through the combined efforts of Jeff Gural, Freddie Hudson, Judy Bokman and her crew at the SRF, he now has a job with the New York City Mounted Police Unit. It is truly a wonderful and heartwarming story.

Unfortunately, that happy ending does not happen enough in the Standardbred Industry. In fact, it is estimated that, at any given time, 92% of retired standardbreds are at risk of ending up in a kill pen. In my opinion, The Standardbred Retirement Foundation hit the nail on the head when it posted this statement on their website: “Although horse racing is a multi-billion dollar business, the Standardbred racing industry has made no provision to support these grand horses when their racing careers come to an end.” The sad fact is that even though our industry has started to address this situation, in my opinion, harness racing is still not focusing enough time, energy, and money toward this problem.

As always, when you are trying to change a situation, people must first acknowledge that there is a problem that needs fixing. I think the time to debate this is over. All one needs to do to realize that this is still an ongoing problem is to check their social media feed. If you are like me, there are at least 3-4 posts from a standardbred rescue site asking for donations to bail out one of our own from a kill pen. In our industry, it is an open secret that many of the horses that have retired from racing, and even those that were never competitive as racehorses, are sold to dealers. A large majority of these horses are then resold to kill buyers. Kill buyers buy these horses with the sole purpose of sending them to the slaughterhouse. The suffering of these animals is often compounded by the fact that they travel to their death in dark, cramped trailers with little to no food or water.

If a horse is lucky enough to be spared the fate of the slaughterhouse, that does not mean that a retired racehorse will enjoy an idyllic retirement on a farm with lush, green pastures for the rest of his or her life. These horses, often with recent and painful injuries from racing, are sold to people who think of them as a piece of machinery. Therefore, instead of being given time to recover from their injuries, they are immediately put to work pulling heavy plows in a field. When the inevitable happens, and their broken and abused bodies can no longer tolerate the hard work they are asked to do, they once again end up in a kill pen to be auctioned off to slaughterhouse dealers.

Even if a retired standardbred is re-homed through one of the few dedicated but underfunded agencies that exist, that does not guarantee that this horse is forever safe. According to figures put out by the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF), only 8.5% of horses rehomed find their forever home with their first family. Unfortunately, that means that 91.5% of these horses are at risk again. As the SRF stated in its recent email, if a Standardbred horse doesn't have a lifetime protective guardian, they are at risk again of ending up in a kill pen.

These scenarios are not only sad, they are also no longer acceptable. An industry that breeds an animal, for the sole purpose of making money, cannot then toss that same animal away like a piece of yesterday’s trash when it no longer serves our purpose. In today’s world, with the advent of social media, the cruelty our standardbreds endure when they are no longer able to race is out in plain view. In my opinion, as an industry we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the issue of Animal Welfare.

No longer turning a blind eye to the issue of Animal Welfare requires us to do two (2) things: First, we need to recognize that a problem exists. Then, we need to do something. Fortunately, some industry leaders are beginning to realize the harness racing industry needs to be proactive in this area. However, what is even more important than changing the public’s perception is actually changing the practices that make us a cruel industry. Just putting out public relation pieces about how the Harness Racing industry is going to try to address this problem, without substantial progress, will not make any difference in the public’s perception of our industry.

​I do want to give the USTA and certain individuals credit. When the public became outraged about the horrific events in Killean Cut Kid’s life as a retired standardbred (September 2017), industry leaders came together the very next month at Lexington’s Red Mile. In the year and a half since, real progress has been made: An entity (the Standardbred Transition Alliance) has been formed; A Board of Directors and Committees has also been formed; In addition, some funding has actually been raised. While these things are positive steps toward some type of comprehensive industry-wide solution, I believe we need to do more AND we need to find a way to implement real solutions more quickly than we are currently are doing.
My belief that we need to do more, and do it more quickly is borne out by the following statistics: In the year and a half (18 months) since the concept of the STA was announced, I estimate that approximately 6,998 standardbreds were sent to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.(1) If you look at statistics on a yearly basis, the numbers are equally as appalling. It is estimated that approximately 8,000 standards are bred each year. In 2018, it has also been estimated that 4,830 standardbreds were sent to death via a slaughterhouse. So according to these statistics, 60% of the standardbreds bred each year will meet their death in a slaughterhouse. So according to these figures, while it seems that we in the harness racing industry seem to have realized that this issue needs to be addressed, I am not so sure that we realize there is an URGENT need for this issue to be addressed. We need to speed up the process of finding real solutions.
Well said, Monica! After racing homes for racehorses one of the major necessities en route to a reinvigorated and healthy racing industry. It is TOTALLY unacceptable that the thoroughbred and standardbred industries continue to avoid confronting this issue head on! With the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually in North America on yearlings and racehorses there is no excuse for the lack of after care. There should be a % taken out of all yearling sales, a fee for this purpose required annually to register as an owner, trainer, driver, jockey, breeder. Racetracks and others who participate in and/or benefit from racing should be required to participate via annual contributions..... There is no satisfactory or morally acceptable alternative!!!!
Gordon Banks
Monica, Fantastic article. We need to support are aftercare programs. I am all for a per start charge (1.00) to help theses horses. This could be over seen and divided per state or region.​​
Cherri Collison

Bob Marks

Harness Racing History

Bob Marks is a harness racing Hall of Fame jounalist, the former marketing guru of Perretti Farms and a noted ace  handicapper. Marks has been a vital and active part of the racing game for over 50 years, first establishing himself as a handicapper of renown during the Golden Years of the Roosevelt-Yonkers circuit, then contributing a steady stream of informed and reasoned articles to the top trade publications.

The Way it Was
by Bob Marks

On Thursday November 5th, 1964 20,042 attended Yonkers Raceway and wagered $1,964,634. The next night Friday November 6th, 27,198 attended the same track and wagered $2,305,934. One night later Saturday November 7th, 1964, 35,375 including myself were at Yonkers and the handle was $2,564,148.

At Aqueduct, the Thursday numbers were attendance 23,942, handle $2,531,916. Friday’s was attendance 23,307, handle $2,569,935. On Saturday it was attendance 49,505, handle $4,849,391.

Not sure about the other two nights but I remember the weather for Saturday was typical November probably low to mid 40’s by the 8PM post time.

It should be noted that these were normal racing days and nights, not the stakes laden presentations of contemporary times.

Back then tracks extracted their portion of the handle in addition to charging for admission, parking, programs, tip sheets, hot dogs in addition to the dining room take.

By today’s standards, the Friday Yonkers in 1964 handle of $2,305,934 would equal $18,682,204.26 while the Saturday Aqueduct handle of $4,849,391 would equal $39,288,711.14-almost incalculable to this non mathematical mind.

While the thoroughbreds handled more than standardbreds, it was a mere plurality rather than the landslide numbers differential that exists today.

While their attendance figures other than isolated instances like Derby Day, Pegasus World Cup, Saratoga, Belmont Stakes day etc may not approach the numbers of yesteryear, in many cases their overall handle numbers are still impressive.

Since the inception of social media, one now reads all kinds of opinionated reasons why nobody goes to the harness races anymore, many somewhat convincingly offered by those who weren’t there when we were what we were.

The fundamental fact is that back then managements were so busy raking in revenues they never prioritized those supplying those funds at the pari-mutuel windows. Thus, through attrition they gradually vanished. Much of this is covered in the early chapters of my book Way Of Life but you can draw your own conclusions.

Bob Marks & Freddie Hudson at the Harrisburg Horse Sale

An irrevocable fact of gambling lore is that the other than the handful of masters, the average customer must lose therefore it is mandatory to always replace that customer. Las Vegas always knew this and aggressively pursued the replacement process.

Harness and Thoroughbred Racing to a degree allowed the customer base to evaporate and the telltale signs were visible through the 70’s. Yes, OTB was a major factor in dwindling attendance though for Harness, The Meadowlands was a revitalizing source in 1976.

I was a vendor at The Meadowlands doing first Top Trotter tip sheet and later on the Orange Horse and by the late 80’s I gave up doing the sheets as attendance had so dwindled it was no longer cost effective.

What happened? They lost! They weren’t replaced. Simulcasting came along further eroding on track attendance.

Harness Racing in particular has long had a negative stigma some deserved, some not that was never properly addressed by those in authority. Thus the vocal naysayers were simply dismissed as disgruntled “losers”. The problem with that was that “those disgruntled” could and did influence the next generation in negative fashion. That happened.

A common lament from a number of viewers of the old Stan and Spence show “Racing From Yonkers or Roosevelt” on Channel nine in New York directly proceeding the World Wrestling Federation on the same network is that “one charade follows another”. Was it true? Of course not to the same extent, but there were elements and that’s what so many people we no longer have believed.

And here we are.

Harness Racing

What Happens When Too Many People Benefit from One Person’s Cheating.
By Charles Martino

The other day I was informed that over 40,000 people visit Yonkers on a normal Saturday. I was devastated by that number, and it slapped me across the face with this cruel reality. If 40% of those people are there during racing hours inside the casino, it means there are possibly 16,000 people there while we run races. That number is about the same amount of people that were there back in 60’s and 70’s who just wanted to watch our product. Now what traumatized me is the fact that not even 15% of those people are interested enough to walk through the doors to examine what we are doing outside. For me that is a frightening thought. But that is not what I want to write about.

I thought I would address what most of those inside the business feel is going on. It's not a big secret that medication is playing a bigger role then it should be in racing. Just check out any harness racing blog or make a statement about it and see how willing and ready people are to jump in with a story or opinion. The truth is we need to look no further than the recent sale of Atlanta to begin to understand how far reaching and what kind of depth medications are now playing in the problems this business is having.

In my conversations with people inside the business, most all seem to eventually lead to who is using what? The unique thing is that it seems like all the same names always pop-up, regardless of who I am speaking to. The first question that comes to my mind is, if these things are commonly known why aren’t we or why can’t we stop them? We need only to look at the down turn in the game and see how it coincides with the use of erythropoietin to understand that the use of off-label medications has destroyed the faith that our fans once had in our product. Dan Patch, Grey Hound, Bret Hanover, Albatross, these names are to racing like Babe Ruth is to baseball. But as we saw in baseball as the steroid abuse came to light and was exposed, the questions of greatness cloud the crop of players that used them. But unlike baseball we have failed to successfully address our problem. Fans no longer believe that any of our horses are racing clean, and we give them every reason to believe that this is true.

I had raced horses in the 80’s and no one was invincible, but as the mid 90’s hit winning races was much harder. What people in the grand- stand began to see is a horse coming off a claim would literally be a different horse inside of a week. When that horse ended up with a suspect trainer he would jump up 2 or 3 classes winning at ease. Others that were claimed by horsemen that were not suspect would drop through classes like a hot knife through butter getting beat by horses they use to walk all over.

The cost of erythropoietin was expensive so it had a compounding effect of being used by the people making the most money. Being it was expensive many people without the means of money were left out in the cold. But that need to compete soon found the use of cobalt as an alternative for the small guy. But unlike erythropoietin where it has a residual effect and the drug itself is long out of a horses system when racing, cobalt did leave levels that can be read as excess; thus making cobalt use detectable.

Charles Martino

In my travels I met a pharmaceutical district manager that I happened to mention to how I thought erythropoietin was ruining the business. The following is what she explained to me. Sometime earlier when her company’s erythropoietin product hit the market they were examining sales. They saw one doctor who they were sending much higher quantities of it to. Since their product was new they wanted to interview this doctor to see what he liked so much about their product. Their hope was to educate their sales people with bullet points that they could learn from interviewing that doctor. One day they were in the area of this doctor, so they decided to stop in to speak to him. When they pulled up to the shipping address used for the product, it turned out to be an empty store front across the street from Belmont race track.

There have been many enhancements by pharmaceutical companies to that drug over the years and now foreign products are sold on the internet. But the real problem with erythropoietin is it opens the door to what blood doping can do when it comes to enhancing the performance of a racehorse. Blood doping has become the Holy Grail of pre-racing and thus has given us our biggest obstacle.

It seems we talk a good game when it comes to cheating through the use of medication, but our actions are far less. Maybe it is because in this business too many gain by one person’s cheating. Not only does the trainer win, but the owner has a windfall. The veterinarian that the trainer uses also benefits. Then that windfall also goes to the driver or drivers that the trainer uses. But it does not stop there; breeders that have related yearlings going to sales now have much more money for them because of a brother or sister that took a faster lifetime mark based on medications used. It causes one to really wonder, we seem to be able to find all the things a poor guy can use. They found answers to the milk shake within months and cobalt now is detectable. Even with the glaucine only one person (a small guy) got in trouble. Which leads me back to that first paragraph, not even 15% of those people at Yonkers come out to watch our product and we wonder why?

Horseracing Integrity Act 2019

A Horse-First Bill: 2019 Horseracing Integrity Act
by Blood-horse

U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Andy Barr (R-Ky.), congressmen representing Saratoga Springs and Lexington, respectively, introduced March 14 the Horseracing Integrity Act to create a uniform national standard for drug testing in racehorses that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The Horseracing Integrity Act is backed by the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, a diverse group of 18 members that include racing organizations, racetracks, owner and breeder associations, and animal welfare groups that support adoption of a national, uniform standard for drug and medication rules in horse racing.

“This is a horse-first bill. This bill will help ensure a safer environment for horses and riders at all tracks,” said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of CHRI. “Representatives Tonko and Barr, along with their respective staff members, have worked tirelessly on this legislation. Thanks to their efforts, this initiative has gained the support of key stakeholders across the industry and continues to gain momentum. We look forward to working with other racing industry organizations to ensure productive legislative activity this year.”

H.R. 1754 is nearly identical to the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2651), also introduced by Reps. Barr and Tonko, which garnered the bipartisan support of more than 130 representatives last Congress. Joining the effort in 2019 are Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce, and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. CHRI is hopeful and optimistic that the legislation will move through the committee process this year, building on this strong showing of support from key lawmakers.

“Horse racing thrives when we put the majestic equine athlete front and center,” Tonko said. “Our legislation creates a set of nationwide rules that are clear, consistent, and conflict-free. This will make horse racing safer for our equine athletes and jockeys while increasing confidence in the sport among the trainers, owners, horseplayers, and horse racing fans alike. This Sport of Kings has long supported good jobs and delivers billions of dollars in economic impact every year in my home state of New York and throughout the country. I am grateful to Congressman Barr for partnering with me on this common-sense legislation and look forward to advancing our measure through the House.”

“As the Representative for the Horse Capital of the World, I have the distinct honor of fighting for the future of this great American sport,” said Barr. “I continue to believe the prosperity of Kentucky’s signature horse racing industry depends on national uniform medication standards and testing procedures. I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with my friend and colleague, Congressman Tonko, and I look forward to building upon the great bipartisan work we secured last Congress, including more than 100 co-sponsors, to ensure the safety and integrity of this sport is preserved for years to come.”
Under existing law the American horse racing industry is regulated state-by-state, which has created inconsistent rules regarding medication use and enforcement across the 38 U.S. racing jurisdictions.

Key elements of the Horseracing Integrity Act are:
  • Establishes a conflict-free, self-regulatory organization responsible for creating and implementing an anti-doping program for the entire horse racing industry
  • Standardized list of permitted and prohibited substances, treatments and methods for all covered races in the U.S.
  • Requires full and fair information disclosure to breeding stock purchasers and the wagering public 
  • Bans the use of all medications within 24 hours of a race
  • Provides for the increased safety and welfare of horses, jockeys, and drivers.

“The Jockey Club is grateful to Representatives Barr and Tonko for their strong support of the Horseracing Integrity Act,” said Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “This legislation is vital for the health and safety of our athletes and the integrity of the sport of horse racing.”

The Water Hay Oats Alliance is a 1,700-member coalition of owners, breeders, trainers, and other horse racing industry leaders that was created in 2012.

“Doping destroys public confidence in racing, defrauds the betting fan, weakens the genetic pool and, most importantly, puts the life and limb of our equine athletes and their jockeys at risk,” stated WHOA in a March 14 release. “It is obvious that after years of committee review and discussion, America’s racing industry cannot police itself by eliminating the proliferation of performance-enhancing drugs in our sport, nor does it possess the power to adequately punish the purveyors of these drugs.

“The appointment of an independent anti-doping program run by USADA will resolve the problem of widespread drug use in American racing and put U.S. racing jurisdictions in step with international standards.”

Jockey Club White Paper

To Prosper, Horse Racing Needs Comprehensive Reform
From the Jockey Club

The Jockey Club is the breed registry for all Thoroughbreds in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Since its founding 125 years ago, The Jockey Club has been dedicated to the improvement of breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds, focusing on improvements to the integrity, health, and safety of the Thoroughbred breed and the sport of horse racing. The Jockey Club has long held that horses must only race when they are free from the effects of medication.

We believe that horse racing needs to aggressively pursue a series of changes to how it is regulated. Without these reforms, the future of the sport will continue to wane. A number of critical reforms to address the health of horses and the integrity of competition are included in this paper – each of which deserves public attention and immediate

consideration, especially as they relate to the issue of drug use. Improper drug use can directly lead to horse injuries and deaths. Horses aren’t human and the only way they can tell us if something is wrong is by reacting to a symptom. If that symptom is masked, the results can be devastating.

Following the deaths of 22 Thoroughbreds at Santa Anita Park over the past three months, the horse racing industry in the United States has been forced to reevaluate the measures we currently have in place to protect our horses and maintain high standards of integrity in the sport. The industry has rallied behind laudable reforms to protect our horses, including greater analysis of track surfaces, and The Stronach Group issued a series of new rules at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields pertaining to issues such as transparency in vet records, improved out-of-competition testing, crop use, and a landmark reduction in medications administered to horses.
Unfortunately, these proposals follow a pattern that has been familiar in horse racing for decades: as an industry, we are more often than not reactive to our problems, and changes are slow, sporadically implemented, and often ineffective. From past scandals involving steroids to dermorphin to cobalt to the most recent matter implicating the potential use of bisphosphonates in inappropriate methods, we lag behind cheaters and abusers and by the time we have caught up they have moved on to the next designer substance. In the United States there are 38 states that have authorized horse racing, each maintaining its own set of regulations. Relying upon a system of individual state-based regulations and rules denies the industry the ability to affect dynamic and effective change.
However, it would be a mistake to view the Santa Anita fatalities as an isolated situation — spikes in the deaths of horses have occurred at other tracks and they will continue to occur without significant reforms to the horse racing industry. The issue isn’t about a single track — horse fatalities are a nationwide problem, one that has shocked the fans, the industry, the regulators, and the general public.
Will we ever know the exact cause of spikes in horse fatalities? Unless there is change in the industry that answer is, sadly, probably not. A key to this change is the requirement of full transparency into the medical treatment, injuries, and health of all racehorses. Today, we can’t fully see what is going on with a horse because of differing state and track practices, antiquated practices, and purposeful deceit about what drugs are given to horses at what times.

To address these grave issues, The Jockey Club supports the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019, or H.R. 1754. The bill would create a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority (HADA) responsible for developing and administering a nationwide anti-doping and medication control program for horse racing. The authority would be under the oversight of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the organization entrusted by the United States for drug testing of its Olympic athletes. Horse racing would operate under a single set of anti-doping and medication rules across the country, a system that the racing industry has never been able to replicate on its own.

H.R. 1754 is the only way for horse racing to have a national rule book, effectively police itself and stay ahead of cheaters. If the industry wants to remain sustainable for the future, it must take the appropriate actions to protect the horses and the integrity of the game. The appropriate action is to support the passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act.

The Current System Does Not Work
Racing’s current state-by-state structure for rule promulgation, passage, and enforcement
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Veterans & Horses

Rescued horses return the favor, helping veterans in need
By Carol Watson Correspondent

For more than 40 years, Barbara Knopf has dedicated her life to the rescue of abandoned and abused Morgan horses. And now, on 80 acres of rolling countryside outside La Valle, these same horses are rescuing the nation’s veterans.

It’s a story with an unexpected beginning.

“When my son returned home from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010, we were having coffee one morning when he told me about the anxiety he’d been experiencing since his return,” Knopf said. “He said that being with the horses had calmed him and asked that I start a program to help other veterans.

“That was the beginning of Veterans’ Equine Trail Services,” she added.

About five years ago, then-Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker visited September Farms in La Valle to present Knopf with the Wisconsin Heroes Award, which honors a state resident whose compassion and commitment to a nonprofit organization has made a difference in the lives of others.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran herself, Knopf is acutely aware of the difficult issues many veterans face when they return home.

“Almost every veteran returning from a military deployment will experience some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, whether it’s anxiety, depression or social isolation,” she said. “Some vets do have a reduction of these symptoms over time and their lives will become increasingly disrupted, yet it can be months or even years before a veteran seeks help due to fears of being labeled mentally ill.”

For J.S., a 39-year old veteran who served in Saudi Arabia, it took nine years.

“I was diagnosed with PTSD after my deployment in 2003 and experienced a lot of PTSD issues, which continued despite counseling,” he said. “One day in 2012, I was at the Baraboo veterans’ office when I saw a flyer about the VETS program and decided to give it a try.

“I have been a part of the program ever since, and my PTSD issues are under much better control,” he said. “This program has changed my life.”

Preparing a horse to participate in the program is extensive and may take up to two years to complete. It is a process that is never hurried.

“My primary goal during the first year of training is to enable a horse to learn to trust people again,” Knopf said.
This is done by consistently meeting their basic needs, spending a lot of one-on-one time with them and allowing them to run free for as long as they want in the pasture.

“Because so many of these horses have been neglected or abused, we want them to know there is nothing to fear here,” she said.

Later, horses take part in exercises that enable them to remain calm during grooming and to not react to loud noises or strange objects they may encounter.

“Horses are first desensitized to grooming tools, as they are necessary to their basic care,” Knopf said. “Clippers, in particular, can scare a horse because they are noisy, and we use an advance/retreat approach to desensitize them. This involves showing the clippers to a horse slowly in stages from a distance until they relax, then walking closer until we can get close enough to groom them.

“This process is repeated in the same way with numerous other items such as wheelchairs and canes,” Knopf said.
Once a horse completes training and qualifies for the program, Knopf turns her attention to the veterans waiting to participate in VETS. An assessment of each veteran’s needs is made, and he or she is matched with the personality of a horse Knopf feels is a good fit.

“A veteran may be matched with a mare, gelding or even a foal, according to his or her issues,” she said. “For vets who are afraid of horses, we raise a few babies each year for them to work with. Our main goal is to find a partnership that will work on building trust between horse and veteran.”
After the match is made, activities are self-paced, beginning with simple tasks that emphasize touch, movement and relaxation. Later tasks may include haltering, saddling and leading. Teams work together to overcome small obstacles, then move on to achieve larger goals such as riding or driving a carriage. All activities are self-guided.

“If a veteran just wants to sit and watch the horses run in the field or just give them apples, that’s fine with me,” Knopf said. “It’s the relationship that develops between the veteran and the horse that matters, not the activity.”

Knopf said veterans with physical limitations also can participate in the program.

“Veterans that are in wheelchairs can learn to drive as carriage if they are interested,” Knopf said. “This enables them to leave their wheelchair behind and feel the power of controlling a 1,000-pound horse. This feeling of control can then be applied to other areas of their life.”

VETS also will work with the families of service members who are facing a member’s deployment, as well as families experiencing problems after a veteran’s return to civilian life.

“Many returning veterans come back to an economy where they have no job, no home and very little money,” Knopf said. “Plus, if they have been diagnosed with PTSD, they fear being stigmatized and have a difficult time sharing what can be very dark memories.
“But until these memories are dealt with, it’s difficult for a veteran to move forward. Our program assists with this process,” she said.
While there are many personal stories to be found attesting to the benefits of equine-assisted therapy, there was little formal research until an article published in the Military Medical Research Journal in January 2018 provided empirical proof. That article reported on a group of 29 veterans diagnosed with PTSD who completed a six-week therapeutic riding program and were then compared with a similarly diagnosed control group who had not participated.
Veterans who completed the program were later tested by researchers and found to have a decrease of 87.5 percent in their PTSD symptoms when compared to the control group.

Yet the precise reasons equine-assisted therapy works remains somewhat of a mystery, one which is no doubt related to the bond that develops between a horse and a human over time.
Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

For the 600 veterans who participate in the VETS program, these words make perfect sense.


Racing at Another Crossroad, Part 1

By John Pricci with Mark Berner

Not only in times of crisis do the stewards of Thoroughbred horseracing, The Jockey Club, have difficult questions to answer. Challenging issues inherently are part of the game and the time for problem solving is way past due.

Deep in the heart of every racetracker, devoted fan or horseplayer, is the knowledge that the sport, livelihood, and an entire way of life for generations of racetrack families, united by blood or love of the game, is now at peril.

The time for hand-wringing and shooting messengers has long since passed. Racing’s present goes far beyond politics, far beyond the recent tragic events at Santa Anita Park, which sadly are symptomatic of a much larger problem:

Survival, at every level of racing society.

Stakeholders who believe that this premise is just more hyperbole, or fear mongering, doomsday preaching or just sensationalism for the sake of commerce, are in denial and far more out of touch with reality than they know.

There are many—far too many—people who believe that horse racing’s time has come and gone, that it’s anachronistic and much, much more: It’s animal cruelty. And the story is as painful to chronicle as it is to ponder.

Because the sport is so structurally fractured, existing in a world that has grown far too complicated and sinister for everyday people in everyday life, is it even possible to escape an unthinkable inevitability, its demise?

Want to know what makes this tragedy so sad? Is it the perception that racing people don’t care enough to try, unwilling to take a shave and haircut now to avoid decapitation later, believing instead that this too shall pass?

Every person tethered to horses need to consider this: Because of the recent cluster of deaths at one of racing’s most prestigious and prideful venues, what would happen should, heaven forbid, a Kentucky Derby horse “takes a bad step?”

The deafening outcry that would follow another high profile mercy killing will never be silenced. Activists will convince the American public and government officials that horseracing should no longer exist because four-legged athletes have no choice in the matter.

To counter, the industry again rates to point fingers at all the usual suspects; negative publicity, a misunderstood sport, an undereducated public. They might even be desperate enough to resort to spreading the biggest lie of all, the notion of “fake news.”

Once again, industry leaders will refuse to look at a mirror inside their house. It will be too painful once they realize that their inaction is the problem; that they were too selfish to even consider painful solutions to a difficult and extremely complex issue.

The phrase that “the horse comes first” will ring hollow because a preponderance of evidence indicates otherwise.

“Sadly it is hubris believing that we can keep on giving these beautiful horses the drugs they are getting and thinking that there will be no consequences, especially in light of the recent tragedies,” said breeder Arthur Hancock.

“The debate about the connection of these breakdowns on the tracks and the use of powerful drugs such as Bute and Lasix is irrelevant.

“Perception is reality and it is quite clear what the perception of our sport will be if we don't clean up our act immediately.”

Hancock of Stone Farm in Paris, Kentucky is founder of the Water, Hay and Oats Alliance whose mission is to rid the sport of raceday medication. Its well-heeled members are hopeful their influence will lead to federal intervention via passage of a bipartisan bill, the Horseracing Integrity Act.

It is significant that the breeder/owner of dual Classics-winning Sunday Silence would take the lead on this since, at its core, racing’s problems begin and end at birth.

Breeding soft-boned, drug-dependent animals is one of many significant components that too often results in tragedy.

A majority of too-big-to-fail breeders dominate the high end of the sales market by using their wealth, influence and equal measures of achievement and speed to further the success of their industry-within-an-industry.

The question is whether American breeders accept an inherent challenge and change their approach for the betterment of the breed and future of the sport beyond present bottom line issues? If the recent past is prologue, they won’t.

Willing or not, breeders must be held to an ethical standard imposed by one central authority, The Jockey Club, that should lord over racing’s alphabet organizations because it has the clout to impose sanctions.

But before The Jockey Club can take action it first needs to have the same anti-trust exemptions enjoyed by major sports leagues in order to impose meaningful reform without fear of ruinous litigation. And their stick?

For rules violators, especially repeat offenders, they should refuse to register Thoroughbreds belonging to powerful owners and horsemen who flaunt the rules and otherwise fail to act in racing’s best long term interests.

For unwilling racetracks, refuse to produce and distribute past performance data, the foundation of the sport, until compliance is achieved. Of course, these measures are extreme. But compared to the challenges that lie ahead?

Joe Pricci

There is little doubt that unusual atmospherics in SoCal this year wreaked havoc with the racetrack. But horsemen who blamed the racing surface or aggressive racetrack policy were disingenuous. The problem is their overarching reliance on medication.

The recent cluster of fatalities is no anomaly. On average, 50 horses die at Santa Anita every year, a figure that includes catastrophic injuries and natural causes:

Non-exercise induced stable accidents, gastro-intestinal diseases [closely related to medication use], colic, colitis, enteritis, respiratory or neurological diseases and viruses such as West Nile or equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) are also included in the total.

During the 2007-2008 racing season, for example, there were 51 equine deaths. The 2008-2009 season saw 41 horses die. Thereafter, the annual death rate per season numbered 42, 37, 71, 43, 52, 46, 62, 64 and 44, respectively.

The present total of equine deaths from September 2018 forward is 31. Since July 1, 2007, 584 horses met untimely ends at Santa Anita according to California Horse Racing Board statistics.

The reason this is a national story is the high profile nature of the venue and cluster of deaths over a short period of time. Obviously, such clusters have happened before and will happen again if the roots of the problem are not properly addressed.

The problem is national, not regional. A study in New York confirmed that such a cluster occurred at Aqueduct in 2012 resulting in 22 equine deaths. In 2016 at Del Mar, there were 23 such fatalities.

Another spate of deaths occurred in Saratoga in 2017 where 17 died in racing or training, excluding two pre-meet deaths. The New York study of 2012 identified unsound, drugged horses as being part of the problem.

In Arizona last year, 50 equine fatalities sparked one legislator to call for the dissolution of the Arizona Racing Commission. It’s fair to question his agenda--but not the fact that raceday medication is legal in all 38 racing jurisdictions.

Arizona saw spikes in race-related fatalities in its 2016-17 season and again in 2017-18. In 2017, Arizona's fatality rate was 3.41 events per 1,000 starts, compared to a national average of 1.61 per 1,000 starts.

The Arizona Racing Commission on Thursday will review Turf Paradise’s application seeking a three-year renewal of its permit to operate through fiscal 2021. Beginning March 18, the track will conduct pre-race soundness exams by a group of three veterinarians led by Dr. Verlin Jones.

Including the 21 deaths at the current Santa Anita meet, this marks the fourth consecutive year that clusters of equine deaths due to catastrophic injury have occurred--in only three states: Arizona, California and New York.

To a mostly over-the-top animal-loving public, this is a deep-rooted ethical problem. In light of events in recent years, racing’s status quo posture in these matters is indefensible.

Economic pressures are, of course, part of this tragic landscape. The majority of horse owners without “Saturday horses” in their shedrows prompt their trainers to run and earn, by whatever means necessary. Tracks are no less aggressive as they seek to fuel racing’s economic engine, wagering handle.

While some advances have been made with regard to medication in recent years, the industry has consistently proven itself to be incapable or unwilling to police itself beyond a handful of token individuals.

Testing procedures are inadequate and those that have greater testing ability are grossly underfunded. Racing may no longer be “the sport of kings” but it is still should be necessary to pay if you want to play.

So, if not by federal fiat, who has the ability, the responsibility to lead the industry out of crisis? Only one, The Jockey Club, keepers of the two most powerful elements that sustain the sport; the Thoroughbred Registry and Equibase, owner and disseminator of past performance data.

The Jockey Club needs to take a much more vigorous role and stop hoping that the Barr-Tonko legislation will provide the duck and cover needed to evade the issue entirely.

The Jockey Club has stated for some time that it is against the use of raceday medication. Time has come to prove it before it’s too late: Wishes are not horses.

In response to the current crisis, trainer Graham Motion recently tweeted: “If there ever was a time to galvanize support for a national governing body in our sport, this would seem like another one of those watershed moments.”


Time for Jockey Club to Take Lead
by John Pricci with Mark Berner

To its credit, states that suffered a spate of catastrophic breakdowns in recent years have taken steps to address medication and safety issues. The problem is they are treating the symptom and not the root cause: Raceday medication.

Ending race-day medication is the key to cleaning up the Thoroughbred industry. All else is secondary. So, make that happen somehow, Jockey Club, and, while at it, tell the whole world what you’re doing. All of us could use some good PR.

And then all of racing will see that transparency is not such a bad thing after all.

The effect that eliminating raceday medication would have is the ability to see the industry heal itself naturally, organically, giving itself, and the perception of it, a healthy cleanse. And what could be greener than that?

From eliminating raceday medication and extending withdrawal deadlines, all good things will flow. Not immediately. In fact, initially, the process will be painfully slow and costly.

But doing the same-old, same-old is not an option. In fact, it would be the beginning of the end. An outraged public, spearheaded by animal rights activists, will win: Game over.

That dreaded and unnecessary scenario, post-Santa Anita 2019, is but a single high-profile breakdown away. So, industry, are you feeling lucky?

Let’s look on the bright side. Eventually, the breeding market will adjust to a new normal; not tomorrow, but what if it’s five years from tomorrow? Is anyone here interested in playing this game on a level field?

The sales market would become more selective, as would the buyers. Bidding will be more competitive and probably sustain, perhaps even increase, today’s inflated prices in the long term. Considering the alternative, it’s a small price to pay.

Not only would the elimination of raceday medication improve the present image of the racing presented to the public it would also improve the breed over time. My children and yours may not be around to appreciate it, but their children could.

Dr. Mary Scollay of the Kentucky Racing Commission thinks gene-pool cleansing would take 50 years. If today’s stakeholders really care about the animals, the wait will have been worth it; a legacy worth leaving.

The real question is are there any sportsmen or true horsemen left willing to gamble on their expertise to succeed? Racing needs the kind of horsemanship that will allow a chance for knowledge to replace needles. Patience, grasshoppers.

This goes for owners, too. Horse ownership is a privilege not a right, and with that comes a license and responsibilities. As a group, will the majority of owners forever be content to watch 20% of the outfits win the headlines and 80% of the prize money?

Without raceday medication horses will find their proper racing level by natural selection. The market for bleeders and fragile soft-boned breeding lines eventually would disappear. Soundness and stamina would replace demon speed.

Masking sophisticated doping schemes would be far more difficult if race-day Lasix were banned. Infirm horses need time, not drugs that mask problems. Micro-dosing illegal drugs and stacking legal medications would be difficult, if not eliminated entirely absent furosemide.

If animals need medication to fix what ails them, they should have it, just not on race day or on days immediately preceding competition.

Optics matter. Racing has a fiendish reputation and a huge perception problem. The only solution that will last come only from fixing problems from the inside. The public needs to see that racing cares about more than glory and prize money.

​Existing model rules are a good start but are not adequate because horsemen have the power to lord over simulcasting. Owners and trainers need to be made accountable by the only organization in a position to wield any power, The Jockey Club.

Since agencies in each racing jurisdiction are governed by that state’s legislature, enforcement is, by definition, uneven and unfair. These supposed universal regulations are in fact discretionary. There is no manner of enforcement if a jurisdiction decides not to abide.

Concerned with what Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg termed "chemical warfare" before a Congressional Committee in 2008, a bi-partisan group filed legislation entitled the "Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act 2011" in both houses.

Mark Berner

A de facto amendment to the 1978 bill, it stipulated that Congress could require that simulcast races be run-drug free.

In May 2013, the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety act of 2013 was introduced before the 113th Congressional session to no avail.

Two years later, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, aka Barr-Tonko, was introduced. It, too, failed to pass despite the deletion of two words from the original: “And Safety.”

Two years after that, Barr-Tonko was reintroduced and once again failed to pass. Now it is scheduled to be reintroduced in the House of Representatives again this year—right on schedule!

This pattern of failure is due to a malfunctioning industry that has failed to unite get behind federal legislation, most notably the National Horsemen’s Protective and Benevolent Association despite a mission statement that states: “Encouraging the highest standards of horsemanship to continuously improve the care, health and safety of the horse.”

Another bill much further along in the legislative process is the Safeguard American Food Exports Act (SAFE Act). The House bill has 218 co-sponsors and the Senate bill has 30. This bill will prohibit the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts for human consumption both in the US and for export.

If passed, the SAFE Act would instantly force the racing industry to deal with a huge aftercare burden. The cost of that will be approximately $120 million every year 20,000 horses are foaled. Currently, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance’s annual allotment is $3-to-4 million per year. Where will this shortfall come from?

In response to recent events, Santa Anita now requires trainers to seek permission before high speed workouts 24 hours in advance. The new approach includes a review of past performances, physical inspections before and after workouts, scheduled segregation of workers from gallopers, curb equine traffic, and allowing for transfer of health records from one owner to the next, helping identify horses “at risk.”

Arizona has taken action, though far less comprehensively. As indicated in Part 1, Turf Paradise will introduce pre-race veterinary inspections of all entered horses beginning March 18. Laudable for sure. But why isn’t this common practice at every racetrack in America is disgraceful?

New York also made cursory advancements only to compromise the process by grossly inflating purses for claiming horses, the same calamity that resulted in the death cluster of 2012. Drug dependent horses were entered far too aggressively.

While the New York State Gaming Commission never runs out of dogs and ponies to put on its show, the NYSGC demonstrates incompetence and neglect when it rubber stamps an economic policy that already has cost equine lives.

The Jockey Club must lead the way because no other organization has the wherewithal to do the job: According to IRS Form 1990 Database, as of 2016, the organization has $90,467,990 in assets and should have little difficulty sustaining itself.

A template for the Jockey Club to consider as potential mandates:

1-Elimination of raceday Lasix and Bute forcing horses to run clean and to their natural ability. In time, the gene pool will be free of drug-compromised sires and dams.

2-Bar the practice of corrective surgery prior to yearling and two-year-old sales.

3-Bar unnaturally super-fast speed trails prior to juvenile sales, limiting pre-sale exhibitions to jogging and galloping--no more furlongs in 10 seconds, or quarter miles in 20.

4-In addition to eradicating raceday drug use, extend withdrawal times of all permitted medications.

5-Limit whip use so as to limit the practice to the interests of horse and rider safety.

6-Use house veterinarians to administer legal medications to be sold, logged and limiting purchase to racetrack dispensaries.

7-Provide access to MRI machines to racetrack or training track facilities, as is in place at Palm Meadows.

8-Require random out of competition testing.

9-Continue the recent trend toward carding more, less stressful, turf racing.

10-If measures fail to eliminate raceday Lasix use, refuse to register the offspring of sires and dams who raced on furosemide.

11- Employ an owner responsibility rule to mimic the trainer ultimate responsibility rule. Owners will think twice about picking a trainer if they, and their entire string of horses, are suspended for a drug positive.

12- Fully fund aftercare through a combination of an annuity, insurance products and tax on sales, claims, and earnings for homebreds.

There is no league office. There is no league. But there is an organization, such as it is, that stands above the rest because it has the power to sanction all stakeholders. We already know the workaday industry is either incapable or unwilling to police itself. Time for the keepers of the Thoroughbred flame to step up, before a high-profile tragedy mercy kills the game.

If tracks can’t afford to pay for enhanced screening and comprehensive testing to advance safety protocols for the horses and riders then they shouldn’t be in business at all.


Racing exec worries sport could face consequences similar to that of SeaWorld over treatment of horses
by Andre Coleman

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has informed members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that it has assigned investigators to look into the circumstances under which trainers and veterinarians may have been involved in the deaths of 22 horses at Santa Anita Park Racetrack since late December.

As that was developing, a bill written by a local member of Congress which could bring increased accountability to the sport of kings was introduced for reconsideration.
Meanwhile, a horse racing official acknowledged that the racehorse deaths at the Santa Anita track might prove to be a “Blackfish” moment for the horse racing industry.

“It could, it could,” said Rick Baedeker, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board in a March 14 interview with FOX News. “It’s at risk.”

The critically acclaimed documentary “Blackfish” focused on the treatment of killer whales living at SeaWorld and led to widespread criticism of the popular water park.

As the documentary continued to air on CNN and on YouTube, public opinion began to shift against the park, leading to a dramatic drop in attendance. Compounding the park’s economic problems, dozens of celebrities and entertainers canceled appearances. PETA also protested a SeaWorld float entered in the 2014 Rose Parade.

But it could be far worse for Santa Anita. In California, voters have the power to ban the sport in the state.

“The voters authorized horseracing in 1933 and they have the ultimate call,” Baedeker explained.
Animal rights activists have been successful in ending animal competitions.

In November, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment that will end dog racing by 2021. The ban received 69 percent of the vote; it needed 60 percent to pass. The amendment means dog racing at Florida’s 11 greyhound tracks will be shuttered and just six active greyhound racing tracks in five US states will remain.

Although no one is calling for a ballot measure, the scrutiny on Santa Anita may be at an all-time high due to the racehorse deaths since Dec. 26.

Track officials indefinitely canceled horseracing at the Arcadia track on March 5 — including the facility’s biggest race of the year, the March 9 Santa Anita Handicap. Officials have said they plan to reopen on March 29.

Some experts claim that the unusually high volume of rain that has fallen on the region in recent weeks has indirectly led to more injuries to the legs of the horses. Rainfall totaling more than 11 inches has forced track officials to take precautions, leaving the track much harder than usual.

After every rainstorm, officials seal the track by tightly packing dirt to prevent the rain from oversaturating the running area, according to NBC News. But some experts believe the process makes the track too hard and unforgiving for animals that weigh more than a half-ton and run on spindly ankles.
According to the weather forecast, more rain was scheduled to fall on the San Gabriel Valley this week.

PETA has long blamed the horse deaths and injuries on overmedicating the animals.

On March 9 track officials announced new rules that force owners to apply for permission 24 hours in advance of intense workouts. In addition, before those workouts can be conducted veterinarians must evaluate the horses. A new position of Director of Equine Welfare, which will be held by an accredited veterinarian, is also being created. The director will be responsible for the oversight of all aspects of equine well-being and will lead a new rapid response team for injuries. That team will be tasked with conducting transparent investigations of all factors involving the injury, as well the communication of their findings to the public.

After the last horse was euthanized on Thursday, officials at the track began taking drastic steps on their own to reform things.
Also on Thursday, Congress took steps to increase accountability in the sport. US Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) reintroduced the Horseracing Integrity Act, a bill Chu co-authored with Rep. Andy Barr (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Paul Tonk (D-New York).

The bill would ban the use of medication in the 24 hours prior to a race. It would also introduce uniform national standards for horseracing to replace the hodgepodge of regulations from 38 state racing commissions.

The bill was first introduced in 2017. During congressional hearings last year, some industry stalwarts railed against the ban on race day medication.

On Thursday, officials at the track banned all same-day medication, including Lasix, a powerful diuretic which removes excess fluid from horses. They also banned the whipping of horses.
Lasix has been administered to horses before races for the past 40 years as a way to reduce or prevent bleeding, according to Equine Health Labs. Because it reduces plasma volume, some experts believe it reduces blood pressure in the lungs and prevents bleeding from occurring.

“We will wait no longer for the industry to come together as one to institute these changes,” wrote Belinda Stronach chairwoman and president of the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita. “Nor will we wait for the legislation required to undertake this paradigm shift. We are taking a stand and fully recognize just how disruptive this might be.”

PETA, which called for the end of whipping and the use of drugs, called the decision to ban race day drugging a watershed moment. 
“This groundbreaking plan, which PETA has pushed for, will not bring back the 22 horses who have died recently,” said PETA Spokesperson David Pearle in a prepared statement. Pearle’s comments were made just prior to the last death, which occurred on March 14. “But it will prevent the deaths of many more and will set a new standard for racing that means less suffering for thoroughbreds at this track.”

Members of PETA were scheduled to protest at the district attorney’s office last Wednesday and called on LA County DA Jackie Lacey to order a criminal investigation into the trainers whose horses died in the last three months.

PETA was a critical part in the battle waged against SeaWorld for its treatment of orcas.

“These are seismic shifts for racing,” said Baedeker. “These are things that have been talked about for years. This situation calls for bold action. They have taken bold action and I applaud them for it.” 

Press Release

Association Of Racetrack Veterinarians, HBPA: Curtailing Lasix Won’t Reduce Injury Rates

The following statements were released Tuesday by the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV) and Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), regarding the recent breakdowns at Santa Anita and the issue of Lasix.

From the NAARV:
The membership of North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians, both on site at Santa Anita racetrack and across the country, is concerned over the threat posed to the well-being of the racehorses and to the subsequent developments in the regulation of veterinary medicine.

Any injury to our horses is unacceptable. NAARV supports all regulatory proposals that will bring us closer to our goal of zero tolerance for injuries. The recent cluster of injuries at Santa Anita Racetrack is a clear call for investigation and remediation of these tragic incidents. Each incident should be evaluated for the condition of the horse (including medication), the circumstances and location of the injury, the racing surface, the climate, and all persons responsible for the care of the horse and the racing surface. Comprehensive data collection, reasonable review and coherent conclusions can lead to modifications in training, track structure and maintenance, medication and regulation.

This process has the full support of the veterinarians responsible for front-line care of the equine athletes. The same process should be employed in this case and for all injuries on the racetrack.

The California Horse Racing Board has responded in an appropriate evidence based methodical fashion. Unfortunately, the ultimate response to these events was based on emotions and not on any scientific

The result is that it has been decided that appeasement of specific sectors of our society as well as a minority of stakeholders in our industry is more important than prevention of Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage in our horses. The message is that a tradition of the old world horse racing industry is more important than the health of the horse.

As set forth by Dr. Arthur of the CHRB and Dr. Allred of Los Alamitos, there is no coherent experimental or other evidence that the controlled administration of furosemide (“Lasix” or “Salix”) is in any way linked to breakdowns. Furthermore, there is no convincing evidence that the controlled administration of furosemide has any performance effects in any way other than by preventing EIPH. Many studies have been undertaken to address the effect of furosemide on performance. None of them have been successful. Also, studies have been conducted to disprove the benefits of furosemide for EIPH and they have actually reinforced the beneficial effects.

There is no evidence that reduction and ultimate elimin ation of furosemide administration will have any value whatsoever in the reduction of injury rates in racehorses.

However there is abundant evidence that reduction and elimination of furosemide administration will lead to increasing levels of EIPH and subsequent pulmonary disease in our horses.

On the other hand, there is evidence suggesting that the condition of the racetrack was a critical factor in the recent injuries. California has experienced an unusually wet and severe winter. San Francisco has received just as much rainfall as Los Angeles, and yet Golden Gate Fields Racetrack, while racing on the same dates, with larger average field size, did not experience a similar upturn in catastrophic injuries.
Consideration of weather patterns in other locations has shown that there can be fluctuations in racing injuries due to variations in severe weather patterns.

NAARV supports research into modification of all factors which could affect injuries to our horses. These factors may include medication regulation, racetrack structure and maintenance, training methods and patterns, race scheduling and conditions, and climatological influences.
NAARV also supports cooperation among private and regulatory veterinarians in prerace and prework examinations which might prevent injuries.

Evaluation of all of these factors may enable the elucidation of circumstances which are associated with higher risk of injuries, which should be the objective of all stakeholders in the horseracing industry.

The response to the events at Santa Anita Racetrack has established an unfortunate precedent for the regulation of horseracing. The ability of powerful individuals or
organizations to arbitrarily dictate policy is a threat to the wellbeing of horses and horseracing. Over the years a regulatory framework has developed which insures that policy decisions are based on scientific, rational arguments and public discourse. It has served the industry well and protected and promoted the wellbeing of our equine athletes.

NAARV supports the dependence on publicly mandated regulatory bodies for the regulation of horseracing. Arbitrary and dictatorial decision making should have no place in the regulation of our sport.

Eric Hamelback (HBPA President)

Kathy Guillermo (PETA Vice President)

From Eric Hamelback, CEO of the national HBPA:
The mission of the National HBPA, indeed the very heart of our mission, is to encourage the highest standards of horsemanship and continuously improve the care, health and safety of race horses.

The National HBPA encourages Santa Anita to continue a thorough, transparent review led by outside experts with no ties to the track or its owners that identifies the cause or causes of the recent breakdowns and resists optical-illusion quick fixes.

For example, the reaction to ban Lasix, a therapeutic diuretic that reduces risk of pulmonary bleeding in horses, is a red herring that puts our equine and human athletes' lives at risk. Lasix works to prevent horse deaths and has been used for over 40 years with no association to breakdowns.
The National HBPA stands ready to review the independent findings that come from this effort and will work with our fellow horsemen to maintain the highest standards for the care, health, and safety of our horses.

PETA Statement regarding the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians’ Opposition to Santa Anita’s Phase Out of the Medication Lasix

The following statement is from PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo contradicting and condemning the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians’ statement opposing Santa Anita’s planned phase out of Lasix:

"The North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV) has issued a statement implying that only “specific sectors”—that is, PETA—and a minority in racing back the end of Lasix use. But many people in racing advocate for an end to the use of this medication. Lasix is used nowhere in the world but North America, and here in the United States, even in 2014, numerous trainers and owners, including D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher, called for a phase out of Lasix. The Horse Racing Integrity Act—legislation backed by the Jockey Club and many in racing—would immediately eliminate Lasix if passed. The “specific sectors” that NAARV claims are influencing this decision are most of the people in the world who work in racing. Perhaps the veterinarians are nervous that required reduction in medication use across the board at Santa Anita will mean a drop in their incomes."

After Care

About the SRF

SRF provides humane care and services for horses in need of lifetime homes, and in crisis, through rehabilitation, training, adoption, lifelong follow-up, or lifetime sanctuary; and offers therapeutic equine opportunities for children, and adults.

Statistics of Importance
From the Standardbred Retirement Foundation

Less than 9 of every 100 adopted homes keeps their horse for life.

It is difficult to pinpoint the actual reason, but change in lifestyle, such as divorce, going off to college, and financial lead the reasons. The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF), operating since 1989, compiled its data on the number of homes an adopted horse needed based on records from 1992-March 11, 2019.

The number of horses this data is based on is 1,692.

     1 Home-8.5%
     2 Homes-49.0%
     3 Homes-20.0%
     4 Homes-10.5%
     5 Homes-6.0%  
     6 Homes-3.0 %
     8 Homes-2.0%
     9-11 Homes-1.0%

This explains why, after an individual finds a home for their horse, and when adoption programs relinquish ownership or do not follow-up diligently for the life of the horse, the vast majority of these horses are back at risk again, many are found in kill pens.

Most Thoroughbred adoption programs, such as New Vocations, relinquish ownership to the adopter. Only a few programs protect these horses for life such as the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The Thoroughbred industry has a program to collect and distribute funds to help adoption programs, however, Thoroughbreds are still in “kill pens”. Thoroughbreds are more popular off the track and when an adopter is no longer willing to provide good care for any reason, there may be other interest in the horse, but for Standardbreds, 91.5% adopted need to be re-homed. The SRF never relinquishes ownership, and follow-up semi-annually for the life of each horse. Today, SRF is feeding and caring for 374 trotters and pacers. More than 200 are likely not going to be adopted due to age or injury. Sponsorship of a horse is very helpful, and many of the horses listed on the SRF website will be recognized by racing fans and those involved in harness racing. Sponsorship is tax-deductible.

For further information please contact SRF at 609.738.3255 or via email at [email protected]

Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)


The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is a provincial Crown agency that reports to the Ministry of the Attorney General. The AGCO is responsible for regulating the alcohol, gaming and horse racing sectors in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.

Info Bulletin No. 70 – Ban on Race Day Medication: Introduction of a Standards-Based Rule

March 29, 2019

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is implementing a ban on race day medications as of April 19, 2019 that will prohibit the administration of medications, drugs and substances to any horse entered to race starting 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  For Standardbred horses, this includes Qualifying Races. This standards-based rule is critical to protecting horses, participants, the betting public and the integrity of racing as a whole.

The rule changes, which include prohibiting contact between horses entered to race and veterinarians in the 24 hours prior to racing, except in cases of emergency, can be found in the Directives: Standardbred/Thoroughbred

It is in the best interest of the horse, the human participants, the betting public and the public at large that horses race free of medications (other than Furosemide when properly enrolled in the Ontario Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (E.I.P.H.) Program).
Medications administered within 24 hours of a race have resulted in adverse health outcomes of race horses.  Medications administered on race day have the potential to mask physical or behavioural problems in a horse and/or to alter the performance of a horse. These administrations can pose a risk to the health of the horse and participants while warming up or racing. The betting public and the public at large are unaware of the specifics of these administrations. 
This standards-based rule aligns Ontario more closely with other major racing jurisdictions in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.  For example, in the United States, 28 out of the 33 states with pari-mutuel betting have implemented a ban on race day medications.  

The new standards-based rule will enhance the health and safety of the horse, the safety of the participants during the warming up of the horse and in the actual running of the race. The standards-based rule defines the timeframe of the ban as being 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  This rule is not intended to prohibit normal non-medicated feedstuffs, water and non-medicated shampoos and non-medicated topical applications. 


The AGCO will implement the standards-based rule through the following communications with the horse racing industry:   


Ruling On Appeal Panel Jurisdiction

On Friday (March 29) a Judicial Review Panel issued its decision regarding a case involving the jurisdiction of the Horse Racing Appeal Panel.

In early February a three-person Judicial Review Panel heard arguments from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), contending that the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP) did not have the jurisdiction to rule over a recent case.

The HRAP ruled in favour of appellants Tammy Aspden, Linda Wellwood and Anne Shunock related to the return of purse money from a 2015 Ontario Racing Commission ruling.
The lawyer for AGCO argued in the February hearing that HRAP did not have the power to overrule the Registrar because it is inconsistent with the legislation which gives the Registrar "the power to govern, control, direct and regulate horse racing in the province, in all of its forms."

According to AGCO legal council, "The HRAP had no authority," and "Any decision made under the statutory authority is non reviewable by the Appeal Panel."

Legal Council for the Horse Racing Appeal Panel was also present, arguing that the Appeal Panel didn't waive the Rules of Racing in modifying the decision made by the Commission. In fact, he argued, the Panel acted fully within its jurisdiction.
The lawyer for HRAP pointed to wording in the Rules of Racing indicating that any person aggrieved by a ruling of the judges, the Registrar, or the governing officials may appeal a decision to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel.

Friday's ruling from the Judicial Review Panel sided with the respondents, stating the case was within the jurisdiction of the Horse Racing Appeal Panel.

"It is clear that the decision of the Registrar in this case was not made pursuant to the plenary powers granted to him under section 2 of the [Horse Racing Licence] Act. Rather, the Registrar himself was specific that the exercise of his power was being made pursuant to rules 1.09 and 6.16. By rule 24.01 of those same rules (rules made by the Commission through the Registrar) and appeal of such a decision lies to the Panel.
"That section 8 of the Act does not specifically refer to the Registrar does not render the Panel's decision unreasonable. The appeal powers under section 8 require the following: (1) That the rules of racing provide for an appeal to the panel; (2) That the appellant be a person aggrieved by the decision; and (3) That the decision in question have been made by, among others, an office or employee or the Commission.

"In the case before us, it was reasonable for the Panel to determine that all three of the requisites were met."
To view the full ruling from the Judicial Review Panel, scroll through the embedded PDF below or click here to view the document in a new window.

Tammy Aspden

Statement from Tammy Aspden

Update to our case... Judicial Review released their decision today and I am extremely pleased to report that we and HRAP won against the AGCO. Judicial Review ruled that the HRAP has jurisdiction to hear an appeal against the the Registrar and they also ruled that the HRAP acted responsibly in that regard. Judicial Review also ruled that the cost decision that HRAP awarded us was not only appropriate but they agreed that the Registrar and the counsels that represented him acted unreasonable to towards us and agreed with the cost amount that was awarded to us by the HRAP. Judicial Review awarded us $ 15,000 towards the cost of Judicial Review. Although this is significant amount to be awarded given the typical amount is $ 5,000, the cost of this ordeal was far more .....

We finally had our day in court for Judicial Review... Interesting arguments were made although the lawyer for the AGCO in his opening argument tried to explain why there is nothing wrong with horses receiving purse money AFTER testing positive. In fact nowhere did the counsel for the AGCO suggest the drug was not in the horses system. His assertion that it is somehow ok to have an illegal drug in the horses system was both offensive and troubling from a racing point of view. Everyone in racing understand that if you give your horse ANY drug before a race, be that a legal or illegal drug, you run the risk of a positive test certificate. Everyone accepts that risk and understands that if you are caught, you forfeit the purse money, everyone accept the Registrar of the AGCO it seems .....


New York Gaming Commission Warns Horsemen ‘No Generally Accepted Medical Use Of A Bisphosphonate’ In Horses Under Four

Thoroughbred horse owners, trainers and/or veterinarians who are responsible for causing or failing to guard against an administration of a bisphosphonate to a racehorse less than four years old will be investigated for a violation of 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c) for which a fine of $25,000 may be imposed and the person's occupational license shall be revoked.

The New York State Gaming Commission has determined that there is no generally accepted medical use of a bisphosphonate in a racehorse that is less than four years old; that bisphosphonates are “other doping agents” within the meaning of 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c)(1); and that any such administration shall violate 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c).

This limitation applies to any Thoroughbred horse engaged in activities, including training, related to competing in pari-mutuel racing in New York. This includes without limitation any horses that are training outside the jurisdiction to participate in racing in New York who subsequently race in New York and all horses that are training in the jurisdiction.

An administration occurs, within the meaning of 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c), whenever a substance is introduced into the body of a horse, not only by deliberate introduction of the substance, but also by unintentional acts or omissions.

Summary of Advisory Warning

Any administration of a bisphosphonate to a racehorse less than four years old is an unacceptable practice because of an unacceptably high risk of serious injury or death from deleterious effects on bone growth and strength as a consequence of such use.

Trainers are responsible to guard their horses and to prevent the administration of any substance in violation of Commission rules pursuant to 9 NYCRR § 4043.4(a). Owners and veterinarians are responsible for their acts or omissions that cause such violations. A violation of this rule shall result in exclusion of the horse from racing and the license revocation of any responsible person. 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(e). No bisphosphonate shall be administered to a horse without a veterinary prescription. 9 NYCRR § 4043.16.

Therapeutic Exemption for Certain Horses
It is not a violation to administer a bisphosphonate to a racehorse pursuant to a valid therapeutic, evidence-based treatment plan. A therapeutic, evidence-based treatment plan is a planned course of treatment written and prescribed by an attending veterinarian before the horse is treated that describes the medical need of the horse for the treatment, the evidence-based scientific or clinical justification for using the bisphosphonate, and a determination that recognized therapeutic alternates do not exist. 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c)(3). This exception does not permit bisphosphonate possession on the grounds of a licensed racetrack in New York. It is strongly recommended that any such plan be submitted to the Equine Medical Director before any use, including for horses that might ship into New York. 

Basis for Advisory Warning
Bisphosphonates are substances used to treat osteoclast-mediated osteoporosis in humans. Bisphosphonates have a high affinity for bone where they inhibit calcification and hydroxyapatite breakdown, suppress bone resorption and their intracellular accumulation is cytotoxic to osteoclasts.1 The use of bisphosphonates in younger animals is contraindicated because bisphosphonates inhibit osteoclast-mediated bone resorption, resulting in the accumulation of trabecular microdamage that can compromise the mechanical and regenerative properties of bone.2 These effects predispose affected bone to delayed union and fractures.3,4
Tiludronate disodium (Tildren®) and Clodronate disodium (Osphos®) are two first- generation bisphosphonates currently approved by the FDA for treatment of equine navicular disease in horses four or more years old. The manufacturer's guidelines for both products include the following indications, warnings and precautions:

Tildren® / Osphos® is indicated for the control of clinical signs associated with navicular syndrome in horses. The safe use of Tildren® /Osphos® has not been evaluated in horses less than 4 years of age. The effect of bisphosphonates on the skeleton of growing horses has not been studied; however, bisphosphonates inhibit osteoclast activity which impacts bone turnover and may affect bone growth.

Further, the Equine Medical Director has consulted with other leading equine veterinarians, who concur that the use of bisphosphonates to treat race horses less than four years old is not a generally accepted veterinary practice.

Given the scientific evidence that bisphosphonates are potentially harmful to the normal modeling of bone in horses less than four years of age, the absence of FDA approval or manufacturer's label recommendations for the use of Tildren® / Osphos® in any horse less than four years old, and consultation with other leading equine veterinarians, the Commission has determined that an administration of a bisphosphonate to a racehorse less than four years old shall be investigated as an unlawful and prohibited practice.
Additional Information

No drug may be administered, under any circumstances, to a racehorse engaged in activities, including training, related to participating in pari-mutuel racing in New York, without appropriate veterinary approval. 9 NYCRR § 4043.16. This requires a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship between an attending veterinarian, the horse owner (who may be represented by the trainer or other agent) and the horse, including:
the veterinarian, with the consent of the owner, has accepted responsibility for making medical judgments about the health of the horse;

the veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the horse to make a preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the horse;
the veterinarian has performed an examination of the horse and is acquainted with the keeping and care of the horse;
the veterinarian is available to evaluate and oversee treatment outcomes, or has made appropriate arrangements for continuing care and treatment;

the relationship is maintained by veterinary visits as needed, and
the veterinary judgments of the veterinarian are independent and are not dictated by the trainer or owner of the

9 NYCRR 4043.16(a). Further, no prescription drug may be administered except as prescribed by an attending veterinarian. 9 NYCRR § 4043.16(b).

According to the manufacturers of Tildren® / Osphos®, the use of bisphosphonates is not recommended in any horse with conditions affecting renal function or mineral or electrolyte homeostasis, and bisphosphonates should not be administered concurrently with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., phenylbutazone, flunixin) as this may increase the risk of renal toxicity and acute renal failure. If treatment for discomfort is required after bisphosphonate administration, a non-NSAID treatment should be used.
Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, V.M.D., therefore, recommends that no racehorse be treated with Tildren® / Osphos® or similar bisphosphonate substances, except after the attending veterinarian has taken into account the foregoing information.

Harness Horse Youth Foundation 

Harness Horse Youth Foundation

The Harness Horse Youth Foundation was started in 1976, with Ellen Taylor introducing the fantastic program for young people. HHYF is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to giving young horse lovers the opportunity to learn about driving and Standardbred horses. The program includes interactive learning experiences with racehorses, equine scholarship administration, as well as the creation and distribution of educational materials related to harness horse racing.

Schedule For 2019

This year, the summer camps, will introduce an updated schedule, as well as a series of camps, known as phases. Phase One is a one-day camp open to ages 10-17 years of age. Campers will learn horsemanship, safety and all the skills needed to drive a horse. Phase Two is a three-day camp and continues with more in-depth lessons, and is open to ages 11-17. Phase Three is the Leadership Camp, held at the Goshen Historic Track in New York. It is open to those 12-17 years of age and have completed a previous camp.

Camp applications are online now with a deadline of May 15th to complete and send in. Camp fees include meals and all expenses for camp. Camps are a full day, 8am – 4pm.

Phase One: One-Day Camp:
$100 per camper. Group rates of 8 or more registering at the same time in the same envelope: $50 per participant. Ohio camps: Due to the generosity of Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, the registration fee has been reduced to $25 per participant.

Phase Two: Three-Day Camp:
$250 per camper. Pennsylvania camp: The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will help defray the registration fee; further information will be announced the morning of registration.

Phase Three: Leadership Camp:
$450 per participant. This fee includes meals, lodging and expenses for the camp. This is an overnight event which includes four nights.

2019 Applications & Camp Dates

    June 1 1-Day Canfield, OH
    June 3 1-Day Bucyrus, OH
    June 5 1-Day Napoleon, OH
    June 6 1-Day Paulding, OH
    June 7 1-Day Van Wert, OH
    June 8 1-Day Greenville, OH
    June 11 1-Day Marysville, OH
    June 15-17 3-Day Harrington Raceway, DE
    July 8 1-Day Shenandoah, VA
    July 10 1-Day Shenandoah, VA
    July 15 1-Day Gaitway Farm, NJ
    July 17 1-Day Gaitway Farm, NJ
    July 19 1-day Gaitway Farm, NJ
    July 25 1-Day Goshen Historic Track, NY
    July 27-31 Leadership Goshen Historic Track, NY

HHYF programs utilize Trottingbreds, a smaller breed related to the Standardbreds which also race. Trottingbreds have their own racing circuits in the Midwest, Canada and Bermuda. While many people refer to the HHYF stable member as ponies, they are not. The Trottingbred does carry pony blood – Shetland, Welsh, Hackney and other – but it has been recognized as a breed since 1977. Trottingbreds cannot be registered to race if they stand more than 51½ inches at the withers (under 13 hands) as compared to Standardbreds who stand at least a foot taller. The HHYF Trottingbreds are wintered over at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania and Kentucky prior to being shipped to their spring homes for training and then hitting the road for summer camps and programs..
HHYF would not be possible without our donors and sponsors. There are many ways that HHYF can be supported. For complete details on these opportunities, contact HHYF Executive Director Ellen Taylor at 317-908-0029 or email her at [email protected],org.

The future of harness horse racing relies on our younger generation. Send a youngster to one of the camps. Support HHYF by a donation or sponsorship. To learn more visit Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Book Review

A Way of Life Review
BY Joe Fitzgerald

Most books on harness racing focus on the lives of great horses like Albatross and Nevele Pride, or top trainer-drivers like Joe O’Brien and Bill Haughton. Way of Life, on the other hand, chronicles Bob Marks’ journey from high school horseplayer at Roosevelt and Yonkers to pedigree matchmaker for a large breeding operation to co-author of a book on Meadow Skipper. He came of age during the heyday of harness racing in New York. It was pre-OTB and the stands were packed every night, as the likes of Adios Butler, Bye Bye Byrd and Overtrick dominated the scene. While friends went off to college, he learned the finer points of betting; figured out how to use the money he carried to the track to bet for others for his own benefit; became adept at clocking warmups; and cleaned up by correctly betting on photo finishes.

By the mid-60s he was submitting articles to Wally Rottkamp’s Top Trotter magazine and eventually took over the handicapping role there. While riding the subway to and from his day job at an advertising agency, his nose was buried in Doc Robbins’ Tomorrow Trots, not The New York Times.

A subsequent position at Boardwalk Associates allowed him to use his public relations skills and also gave him an opportunity to strut his stuff as the self-made pedigree Maven he had put so much time and effort into becoming. It was all coming together. Not your typical set of marketable skills, but a valuable one all the same. All of a sudden he was dealing with Standardbred giants like Delmonica Hanover, Misty Raquel and Davidia Hanover. The partners in this company had very deep pockets and expensive taste. He worked on the ground breaking Inside Boardwalk newsletter, an opinion shaper as well as an ideal vehicle for advertising the syndicate’s yearlings. It was an early progenitor of Harness Racing Update. And a No Nukes video he put together was something new and different in the industry.

Meanwhile Marks’ yearling prognostications and imagined races involving the best of the best from different decades were a big hit in Hub Rail magazine, which was like the sport’s answer to The New Yorker.

Boardwalk eventually folded under the weight of pricey purchases and strong-willed partners. Marks moved on to Perretti Farms in New Jersey, bringing along all the valuable knowledge he’d acquired during his previous stop. He managed the bookings of the stallions and mares, advertised and promoted the stock for sale and wrote the newsletter. This section is a fount of information and opinions on a score of horses the farm owned, managed, and sought but didn’t get. The opinions and background information on many of the best pacers, trotters, stallions and broodmares from the past few decades are unique to this book. Insiders tend to play it close to the vest; Marks doesn’t hold back on anything.

This book is suited at those who are seasoned harness racing fans. However, anyone with an interest in racing would appreciate it. In the process of detailing his Way of Life, Marks has given us a one of a kind look at the horses and personalities who have fascinated us over the past six decades.
Order From Amazon

Books available on Amazon 
By Authors Victoria M. Howard, Bob Marks, Billy Haughton & Freddie Hudson
(To order from Amazon just click the books cover)

The foregoing content of articles is solely the opinion and facts of the author, not that of the U.S. Harness Racing Alumni Association. We reserve the right to clarify wording and/or edit any articles without modifying context prior to publication.