USHRAA Newsletter
February, 2019
​​Issue - 007

In this Issue

A Leadership Deficit, Part II, by Monica Bencal​ 
Questions to Ask of Harness Racing Leadership, Compiled by: Freddie Hudson (USHRAA), Shawn Smellie (Founder ACG,& Executive Director Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity), Staci Hancock (Water Hay Oats Alliance), Nancy Watson (of the SAFE Act group), Susan Arrington (USHRAA) and Monica Bencal (Standardbred Owner/Breeder)
Retooled Version of Integrity Act in Works for 2019, by T. D. Thornton
The new Democratic Congress has an opportunity to move legislation to help horses, ​by Marty Irby
Racing’s Present and Future Danger, Part I, by Mark Berner
What Cheaters Use and How they Avoid Detection, Part II, by Mark Berner
ARCI Racing Standards Updated , by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI)
The Operation was a success but the patient died, by Charles Martino​ ​
A Grooms Journey, Part V, by Oscar Belliveau
What Needs to be Done, by Steve Kaiser
MGM Buy Of Yonkers Raceway Has 99 Complications, And Sports Betting Is Just One, by John Brennan
Fraud inspectors at the French horsemeat trial say that the unusual origin was a red flag, By Paris (AFP)
Proposed law would make animal cruelty a felony across the U.S.
By Christopher Brito - CBS News
Ontario race tracks announce new owner integrity stakes condition,
by Mark McKelvie, WEG Communications

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In My Opinion

Monica Bencal

Monica has been in the harness racing industry all of her life. She is the wife of retired trainer Bob Bencal who for over 50 years was Jeff Gurals trainer. Recently a horse 'Beautiful Sin' who was bred by Paula Gural and Monica was the Lexington Selected sales topper at $480,000. Monica is a strong supporter of the harness racing industry and the aftercare of our retired horses.

A Leadership Deficit—Part II
By Monica Bencal

If you have been following along, last month I addressed the issue of Leadership in Harness Racing. I’d like to continue to explore that topic this month because I believe that, without good leadership, harness racing will not be able to institute the changes necessary to survive.

In last month’s article I listed the six (6) areas of leadership that I felt needed to change in regards to the USTA Leadership Structure. First, we need to reduce the number of Directors and streamline the organization. We also need younger people in leadership roles. In addition, people in leadership roles need to be paid so that harness racing can attract the best and brightest people available. Attracting younger people to leadership roles, and paying them for their efforts would eliminate one of our current leadership problem: The “good old-boys network”. I also feel that we need to give the regular members a voice by giving them the ability to vote on issues. Lastly, I believe that the leadership of the USTA needs to be held accountable for the actions they take.

In my opinion, all of the issues I laid out in the previous paragraph are important, but it is the issue of accountability that I believe is the most pressing problem. In last month’s article, I outlined several actions that the USTA leadership took, that quite simply, should not have happened. What the Board of Directors seem to have forgotten is that it is not their money they are spending. It is “membership money”. Members pay that money and join the USTA with the expectation that the fees they are charged will be used for the betterment of the industry. It should not have been used to finance an outing to a vacation destination. I understand that any organization needs to hold meetings, but was it REALLY necessary for the USTA to cover the expense for all 60 Directors to travel to Las Vegas? Keep in mind that this trip doubled the expenditures for meetings in 2017 to a grand total of $304,034, and that this amount was $150,000 OVER the previous year’s expenditure for the same expense category. Our leaders in the USTA need to stop treating the money received from the membership as their own. The leaders of the USTA also need to start being held accountable for both their actions and the money they spend.

The problem of whether an organization spends money correctly, and whether it is held accountable for those expenditures is not a new issue in the business world. That is why, in most organizations, there are checks and balances when it comes to how money spent. The very rule is simple: People who decide HOW the money should be spent should not benefit from this expenditure. This is what they call Fiduciary Responsibility and refers to “the obligation that one party has in relationship with another one to act entirely on the other party's behalf and best interest. It is considered to be the standard of the highest care.” ( Put more simply, if you are in charge of the financial assets of an organization, you have a duty to act in the best interest of stakeholders. In this case, the stakeholders for the USTA are its membership body.

The problem the USTA seems to have regarding its Fiduciary Responsibility to its members is not limited to the Las Vegas Meeting. There were other categories in the USTA’s financial statements that really need be looked into. For instance, the USTA has a staff of people they hired to perform the necessary tasks for the organization. If that is true, then why was there an expense category listed as “Outside Help”? The expense for this category was also quite large with the total listed as $762,038 for 2017. The questions that need to be asked regarding this category of expense are 1. Why was this expense necessary? 2. Who was being paid? and, 3. Did spending this money result in a favorable outcome? This may very well have been a necessary expense, but without proper accounting protocols and procedures in place, there is no way that we can be sure that this was true.

​Monica Bencal

Let me be clear: Being accountable for how an organization spends its money is never a pleasant task. No person likes to answer questions about why and how money was spent, but in a well-run organization, everyone realizes that this is a necessary evil. In most organizations, knowing that you will have to answer for how money is spent is one of the most effective accounting controls that exist. This is also why an accounting department is separate, and does not report to, the department that is in charge of making policy. Each department plays an important role, but keeping these two (2) departments separate ensures that money is not spent recklessly, and that any money spent to achieve organizational goals, is spent wisely.

The last and somewhat separate point I would like to make in this month’s column is the issue of what I call “intertwined leadership”. What this means is that in the harness racing industry, numerous people occupy leadership positions in multiple organizations. To be quite honest, when I was outlining what I thought the leadership problems were in the industry, I didn’t even think of this issue until a couple of days ago. In my FB post of the news item that Monticello was closing its Racino, a discussion about why this was happening ensued. One person suggested that a Harness Racing “Czar” be appointed. This person also suggested that instead of relying on the USTA for leadership, the membership body should approach the various Horsemen’s Associations in an attempt to start initiatives that could save harness racing. What I realized, and what you can see for yourself, is that a large number of the people in these Horsemen’s Associations hold a Director’s seat in the USTA. So essentially, these people cannot be relied to institute change because they are part of the current leadership and have an interest in maintaining the Status Quo: Hence the term, Intertwined Leadership.

As I have said before, the Harness Racing Industry, and especially its leadership, needs to take a hard look at how it conducts its business. Real change is necessary if Harness Racing is to continue into the future. Without addressing these very real issues, we risk becoming even more irrelevant than we already are.

Harness Racing

Questions to Ask of Harness Racing Leadership
Compiled by: Freddie Hudson, Shawn Smellie, Staci Hancock, Nancy Watson (of the SAFE Act group), Susan Arrington and Monica Bencal

Recently it was reported in the 2018 Mackenzie Report that the three (3) major concerns of the public regarding horse racing are the day-to-day care of the horses, the aftercare of the horses, and the issue of drugs and cheating. We as an industry need to address these issues and assure the public that we are committed to solving any problems in these areas. The public needs to be able to trust that the sport of Harness Racing is committed to be fair, honest, and takes care of its animals.

The problem is that we cannot just pay lip service to these issues. The industry actually needs to set up protocols that address and satisfy the public. It is not enough that the USTA lists out points in its Mission Statement and calls that a plan of action. In order to be fair, I have listed out the points in the USTA’s Mission statement so that you, the reader can judge which points are being met, and which points still need to be addressed.

The USTA Mission Statement taken directly from their website lists their responsibilities as the following:

1. License owners, trainers, drivers and officials.
2. Formulate the rules of racing.
3. Maintain and disseminate racing information and records.
4. Serve as the registry for the Standardbred breed.
5. Endeavor to ensure the integrity of harness racing.
6. Insist on the humane treatment of Standardbreds.
7. Promote the sport of harness racing and the Standardbred breed.

In my opinion, the USTA does a good job of the first four (4) items listed. Unfortunately, I think the leadership of the USTA has missed the mark in achieving the last three (3) stated goals regarding integrity, the humane treatment of Standardbreds, and promoting the sport.

In the spirit of fostering a discussion to address those areas that could benefit from more attention, the following questions were compiled with hope that they would answered by those in a leadership position. In the very near future, the staff at USHRAA will attempt to send these questions (along with any others you may have) to people in leadership roles at the USTA.
Area: Major Issues in Harness Racing

     1, What do you see as the most pressing problems in the
         Harness Racing Industry today?
     2, We have gone from being the fastest growing sport in
         America to being the fastest dying sport in America. Do
         you think there is a need for the Harness Racing Industry
         to construct and implement a strategic plan? If the
         answer is yes, do you have a basic idea of what that
         strategic plan would be like? If the answer is no, why do
         you not think a strategic plan is necessary?
     3, How will Leadership address and solve the problem of no              accountability at the USTA? What safeguards can be put
         into place to ensure that the “Membership Money” is
         used correctly?
     4, Will the issue of transparency be addressed by the
         leadership of the USTA?
     5, Do you think the membership body needs a voice in
         decisions? If yes, please elaborate. If no, please outline
         the reason why the leadership thinks this is not
     6, What do you think would happen to harness racing if all
         gaming revenue stopped?
     7, What is your plan to address the issue of Integrity (or lack
         thereof) in Harness Racing?
     8, Is there a plan to address the issue of Drugs and
         Cheating in Harness Racing? What can the USTA do to
         mitigate this problem?
     9, What is the Leadership’s position on the moral
         responsibility that the connections (owner, trainer, etc)
         have to a race horse to ensure the horse’s health and
         safety in retirement?
   10, The USTA has instituted the Standardbred Transition
         Alliance (STA). What is the current status of progress with
         regards to this project?
   11, Is the USTA willing to impose penalties on those caught
         sending their horses into the slaughter pipeline? Why or
         why not?
   12, Will the USTA publicly endorse the Safeguard American
         Food Exports (SAFE) Act? If not why?
   13, What is the USTA’s position on the Horse Racing Integrity
         Act that will prohibit doping of racehorses?
   14, What plan and accomplishments have been made to
         promote harness racing in national broadcasting of
         racing competition, nightly news segments on race
         horses, owners, and trainers, spots on new and/or
         successful tracks in the U.S. and other pertinent
         broadcasting (television) or other media on the sport?

After reading this list of questions, please submit any question you many want answered to the editor of USHRAA so that it may be included when these questions are forwarded to the Leadership of the USTA.

This article and the opinions expressed within are solely the opinions of the author. This article is the fourth article in a series of articles exploring the changes that would be necessary to reverse the downward trend seen in the harness racing industry. Each month the author will address one issue that was listed in the first article of the series. Please feel free to express your opinion on this or any topic presented. Any questions or replies to the article may be addressed to the author and sent to [email protected] or in the comment section below the article in this month’s newsletter. All responses will be acknowledged and printed provided that a name and contact information is provided. The next article will examine the issue of Leadership in the Harness Racing Community. Thank you and see you next month!
Email Monica

Horse Racing Integrity

Horseracing Integrity Act

This bill establishes the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority as an independent non-profit corporation with responsibility for developing and administering an anti-doping and medication control program for: (1) Thoroughbred, Quarter, and Standardbred horses that participate in horse races that have a substantial relation to interstate commerce, (2) such horse races, and (3) the personnel engaged in the care, training, or racing of such horses.

Retooled Version of Integrity Act in Works for 2019
By T. D. Thornton

When the 115th United States Congress ended Jan. 3, the federal bill that would have established an authority to create and implement a national uniform medication program for the sport expired along with the legislative session.

The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 never advanced past the Congressional subcommittee level. But at least that was a step further than the similar Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 ever made it.

In the end–like 21,806 other pieces of legislation that were introduced but never came up for a vote in the last two Congressional sessions–both racing bills met the same fate: legislative death.

With Capitol Hill even more gridlocked and partisan than usual considering the ongoing partial governmental shutdown, you’d think that Thoroughbred reform legislation would be a low priority right now.

However, staffers from the offices of the co-sponsors of the previous versions of the two racing bills–Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY)–confirmed to TDN last week that a retooled 2019 bill is in the works and likely to be introduced early this year.

When queried as to what might be different in the 2019 version of the integrity act or what the legislators learned from previous go-rounds to improve the bill’s chances of passage, both Congressional camps were light on details other than to say they are currently working through the text, deciding who will be the primary sponsor of the bill, and figuring out the best time to launch it.

U.S. Capitol (Getty Images)

“As the representative of the horse capital of the world, this legislation has been and will continue to be a priority for me,” Barr said in an emailed statement. “I continue to believe the future prosperity of Kentucky’s signature horse racing industry depends on national uniform medication standards and testing procedures. My colleague, Congressman Paul Tonko, and I plan to re-introduce this legislation early in the 116th Congress with the objective of holding another hearing and mark-up in the committee of jurisdiction. Last Congress, we secured over 100 cosponsors and I look forward to continue to build upon this bipartisan work to ensure the safety and integrity of this great American sport.”


Marty Irby

Marty Irby is the executive director at Animal Wellness Action in Washington, D.C., and a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association.”

The new Democratic Congress has an opportunity to move legislation to help horses
By Marty Irby

For the past eight years, Congress has failed to do much of anything to help the iconic American horses many of us revere as a symbol of our nation, and symbol of the trails our ancestors blazed across the old west – the very creatures whose backs America was built upon. The 19th-century economy could not have flourished without their labors, and horses helped in the fields, in human transport, the movement of goods, and even in delivering the mail with the Pony Express. Today, we don’t use horses nearly as much for work, relying instead on mechanized transportation, but they remain our trusted companions and are still widely part of our economy in the form of sport and recreation.

There have been three key pieces of legislation introduced in successive congresses, but House leadership didn’t act on them even though all the bills attracted broad bipartisan support. A few obstructionist members did the bidding for horse abusers and helped to thwart the advance of common-sense measures to help horses and the industries they serve.
The first, with 290 co-sponsors in the House during the

115th Congress, is the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act that would end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses – an issue I’m all too familiar with as a former Tennessean, eight—time World Champion rider, and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. The PAST Act would eliminate the use of large stacked shoes, ankle chains, and other torturous devices that are used to create an artificial, high-stepping pain-based gait, known as the “big lick,” and has been championed by U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.).

The use of these devices combined with burning caustic chemicals such as mustard oil, and kerosene applied to the front limbs of horses has created this freakish look that would easily fit into the scene of the abusive games found at the height of the Roman Empire. The PAST Act would also eliminate the industry’s failed self-policing program by replacing it with licensed USDA certified inspectors, at no cost to the taxpayer, and increase penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act.

Secondly, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, most recently, with 219 co-sponsors in the House, led by U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), would end the slaughter of American equines for human consumption, and ensure that the horses wouldn’t be transported under horrific conditions across the country and into Mexico, and Canada.

116th new Congress members

Besides being flight animals that are much more skittish than the farm animals typically consumed for food by Americans – horse meat is frequently tainted with harmful drugs that affect the health and safety of those who consume the meat in foreign countries. Horse slaughter plants have been closed in the U.S. for more than a decade by defacto ban – which requires annual renewal in the Congress through the appropriations process – saving the taxpayers millions of dollars each year. The SAFE Act is a permanent fix and a comprehensive policy that will protect American horses from being gathered up by predatory kill buyers and taken to be brutally slaughtered.

There is also the Horseracing Integrity Act, led by U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Andy Barr (R-Ky.), which would end the doping of American race horses by creating a uniform national standard for drug testing overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a private entity that oversees testing at the Olympics, and many other sporting events. With dozens of horses dying on racetracks each year, the need for this legislation that’s supported by a vast array of industry groups and racetracks is great, and the future of horse racing hangs in the balance of its enactment.

Each of these measures has consistently been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee, but haven’t been brought to the House floor for a vote under Republican leadership. With the change of guard in the House, and the Democrats now in control, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) have an opportunity to move these critical pieces of legislation and underscore to the country what Republican Congressional leaders failed to understand – that Americans revere, and respect, these iconic symbols of our nation. My fellow Republicans failed to deliver on sound equine policies for the nation – a lack of action that would be alien to horses if they could understand us.  These iconic animals have always delivered for humanity, and Congress should help protect them.


Mark Berner

Mark Berner first worked with horses on a small farm in upstate New York in 1973, where he mucked stalls and cared for racehorses with infirmities that were turned out there until ready to resume training.

He joined American Teletimer as a clocker in 1976 and operated their electronic timing equipment at many east coast racetracks until 1978, when he was permanently stationed at NYRA's three tracks, Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park & Saratoga Race Course.

Berner did freelance handicapping for the New York Daily News in 1982 & 1983 before joining Newsday in 1984 as a handicapper and later a sports reporter. Berner teamed up with Pricci to win the United Press International's 1985 UPI New York Newspaper Awards for Best Sports Story. In addition, Berner wrote and handicapped for several trade publications including, Daily Racing Form, Sports Eye, Racing Action, The Thoroughbred Times, Horse Player Magazine and New York Sportsnet.

Racing’s Present and Future Danger, Part I

In a New York Times report on Dec 15, 2018, described McKinsey & Company as the company to hire if the goal is to raise the stature of authoritarian and corrupt governments, autocrats, despots, looters, oligarchs, torturers and abusers of human rights.

McKinsey’s rebuttal the following day was not a denial, but one that said it broke no laws.

There are three big three consulting firms in this space: McKinsey & Co, Bain & Co, and Boston Consulting Group. McKinsey is so good that in 2012 US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, once an owner of Bain, talked of his intention to hire McKinsey to "fix" the American government.

The Jockey Club is well familiar with McKinsey having retained them in 1990 and in May 1991. The company delivered a report entitled, "Building a World Class Drug Detection System for the Racing Industry: A National Strategic Plan."

It is nearly 30 years later and Thoroughbred horseracing is still an industry rife with drugs and animal abuse. As an aside, during this time frame, McKinsey expertise helped turn China’s laggard economy into the second largest in the world.

McKinsey was unable to achieve the level of China’s success for our sport because it cannot change the public’s perception of horseracing. Simply stated, we are our worst enemy.

Horseracing’s reputation is on a collision course with Animal Welfare organizations. Animal welfare is the most popular cause for Americans, according to a Ketchum study released on April 19, 2018.

Ketchum is a global public relations firm headquartered in New York City, and animal welfare has been a top-three concern in each of the three years that Ketchum has conducted its Purpose’s Causes Americans Care About survey. It is again on track to hit the top three on the list for 2019.

Meanwhile, the collective blown mind of all things racing on Twitter last month shattered violently when the three contestants on Jeopardy could not name the 2018 Triple Crown winner.

Newsflash, racing fans, horseracing is not close to being one of the most popular sports in the U.S. In fact, it is not in the top ten. But tennis and golf are.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, not one of 2018’s Top 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business are from the sport of horseracing.

Horseracing is ranked 25th by, nestled between fishing and cycling. I would bet the same Jeopardy contestants know Lance Armstrong and can name one fish.

Even though the public does not know Justify’s name, they know that horses race on drugs. It’s right there in the official program. People do not venerate drugged athletes, apparently including those with four legs.

In the Internet age, when most people read only headlines and pictures, the public has shown neither the time nor inclination to seek out details. And so they hear and read about drugged horses, and see horses that died in a race.

“The solution is to ban Lasix and pre-race NSAIDs, as is the global integrity standard,” said Sid Gustafson, DVM. “Lasix facilitates sophisticated doping schemes.”

The horse Big Mischief broke down approaching the turn in Aqueduct’s fourth race on December 23, 2018, and subsequently was euthanized on the racetrack. Following the death, Gustafson observed, “Lasix continues to work overtime hollowing bone and breaking legs at Aqueduct.”

And even this might not be so bad if horseracing’s image was simple opaque, but it is worse than that. And that is why The Jockey Club hired McKinsey. We are a target rich industry.

I am not an expert in the field of mind shifting, and maybe McKinsey can lighten the conversation of horseracing and animal abuse. Thus far, however, it has failed to do so.

Though the drug problem and animal abuse is obviously very bad for the sport, the feigned efforts of the industry to reign in these problems serve as a distraction from horseracing’s biggest problem; the lack of gambling dollars needed to sustain the sport.

Yes, the numbers were up three percent last year but that hardly makes up for the 20 percent downturn over the past two decades. The sad fact is that it is a small number of big bettors, “whales,” that are keeping the game afloat.

Mainstream bettors, including horseplayers who wager at the track, off-site, or through an ADW, account for about 80 percent of the national handle.

But whales, defined here as players whose annual handle is $1 million or more, account for one out of every five dollars in the betting pools, and that affects all horseplayers.

Whales are the MVPs of the betting game and as such are compensated with a large discount, aka rebates. Rebates for whales can range anywhere from about eight percent to 10 and higher based on that individual or group’s own handle.

These generous rebates allow a million-dollar-a-year player to earn $100,000 annually--if he can manage to break even. Those dollars pay the bills while the whale’s bankroll stay intact, thus incurring even greater costs for the mainstream player.

Between superior (or paid-for) inside information, sophisticated algorithms, and rebates, the everyday player is being priced out of profits even when he wins. Add that to the drug issues, legal and otherwise, and the future doesn’t look very bright.

That is why our leaders are betting on The Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2017 (Barr-Tonko) as a way out of the muck pit. As all know, Barr-Tonko relies on United States Anti-Doping Agency to regulate doping in horseracing. But the USADA is not infallible.
What Cheaters Use and How to Avoid Detection

Part II of Mark Berner's report on how betting and cheating issues threaten the future of Thoroughbred racing

According to research found at the website, here are some of the known methods that cheaters use, and the ways they can game the system:

BIOSIMILARS: A growing problem is the rise of copycat versions of Erythropoietin (EPO). Because it has been so successful financially, companies in India, China and Cuba have developed drugs that do a similar job in the body, but have a slightly different molecular fingerprint.

These cheap versions of EPO, Biosimilars, are easily bought on the Internet. Some scientists who track and monitor the development of copycat EPO drugs say there could be hundreds of different versions from different parts of the world.

Blood transfusions have long been used to enhance athletic performance. Transfusions are an extremely straightforward, simple, and effective method of increasing the blood's oxygen carrying capacity. Recombinant equine erythropoietin, EPO, has been the drug of choice.

With the advent of more effective and inclusive testing, the use of EPO has become more difficult and complex. Because of the increased risk of detection, horse dopers may turn to an older form of blood doping that, until recently, has been virtually undetectable.

BLOOD DOPING: There are two methods of doping through blood transfusions: autologous and homologous. With an autologous transfusion, a horse receives its own blood. The donated blood is stored and then the horse receives that blood at a later point in time. In a homologous transfusion, the blood comes from another horse.

The benefit of homologous transfusion is there is no decrease in performance during the donation period.

DIURETICS and PERMA CLEANSE: Horses are often administered diuretics in an effort to cleanse its system before having to provide a sample. These work tremendously well. One mail-order system, supposedly undetectable as a diuretic or in any lab test, uses the same means to evade a positive test - detoxification - is Perma Cleanse.

A classic method of evading positive drug tests is to couple the use of natural herb diuretics such as dandelion root, uva ursi, and caffeine with fasting. Both EPO and diuretics thicken the blood.

Human athletes on an EPO/Lasix program do not sleep normally because if they do not continually awaken to exercise, the blood can thicken so much that it ceases to flow. This may be the link to what has been termed sudden equine-death syndrome.

THE CREAM, a testosterone-based ointment distributed by BALCO, was designed to mask the use of other steroids [recall baseball scandals]. It was a mixture of synthetic testosterone and epitestosterone. EPI, as it is known in the drug-testing culture, is present in the body but has no known function.

The Cream helps the horse maintain a normal ratio and conceals what otherwise would be a telltale sign of the use of an undetectable steroid: an abnormally low testosterone level.

When a horse is given steroids, the body stops producing testosterone to the point that it can bottom out at zero. A zero level would set off red flags for drug testers, the Cream elevates testosterone enough to avoid suspicion.

EPITESTOSTERONE: Testosterone, once tested at a ratio of 6:1, has been reduced to 4:1 by the International Olympic Committee. The ratio compares levels of testosterone to epistosterone, or the T/E ratio.

The normal testosterone-epitestosterone ratio is 1:1 but because top horses are often genetically advanced, their ratios may differ compared to those of the average horse. The 4:1 ratio is, for most, a large variance in their natural levels.

This leaves open the possibility for a certain amount of exogenous testosterone if one is careful enough to make sure the hormone stays within accepted limits. For those animals already producing more hormone [testosterone] than their competition, or for those who want to use more than they can sneak in under the radar, epitestosterone is employed.

When used, it increases the variable testosterone is compared to, thus allowing for increased amounts. Scientists made the discovery after a former Tour de France cyclist said he was given an unidentified powder to sabotage surprise tests.

Anti-doping authorities need to start checking for protease, a class of enzymes that destroys EPO can be found in soap powder, dishwashing solution and contact-lens cleaner.

There is no reference to protease on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances. Using soap powder would destroy all EPO in urine, both synthetic and what is produced naturally by kidney cells.

GENE DOPING: A sophisticated method of cheating, many experts believe this is already happening and warn that tinkering with equine DNA to boost performance could seriously injure or even kill. A test to detect it is years away - perhaps as much as a decade.

The gene that governs a certain desirable function is isolated - the source is usually another horse. Then a laboratory amplifies it, making more powerful. That gene is inserted into a viral vector, a virus that has had the harmful part of its structure deactivated, but which retains the ability to penetrate and colonize human cells.

The gene is a sort of biological Trojan horse. Adenovirus - a common cause of respiratory problems - is most often used, but other viruses such as herpes simplex or even HIV are now in use. The vector is injected into the horse and begins to take over the cells.

Once inside, an altered gene becomes part of the cell's DNA and recodes it to behave differently - producing, for example, more and stronger muscle or creating EPO, which in turn creates more red blood cells. The virus colonizes cells at the same rate as if carrying disease. Once the gene is embedded there is no turning back; it will be expressed.

MICRODOSING of drugs and hormones, chemically altered molecules of steroids, testosterone patches and the old doping chestnut, equine growth hormone, are the recent trends with drug cheaters.

EGH, despite being used for decades, is still being abused, especially in combination with steroids. Despite recent research, showing that EGH is ineffective on its own, it is used in horses to boost the effect of other performance-enhancing drugs.

Horses can be given regular low doses of the blood-boosting hormone erythropoietin (EPO) in combination with insulin growth factor or EGH. The combination accelerates the impact of EPO but enables the user to escape detection for the smaller dose of EPO.

TATTOOS: Olympic cheats are taking performance-enhancing drugs via tattoos. Inserting drugs through tattoo needles increases the effect of drugs, meaning athletes can take smaller doses and 'fly under the radar' in dope tests.

Research in Germany has shown that delivering DNA vaccines via tattoo is 16 times more effective than injecting through the muscles or veins as the vibrating tattoo needle prepares the body's immune system and increases the body's response to the drug.

Some of the technologies are so new, the concept so bizarre, that there would only be a handful of well-tapped-in veterinarians using it. The problem is that some of the drugs now fly under the radar with the tattoo technique because horses would receive a much smaller dose.

Barr-Tonko bill was dead on arrival, but the death certificate is unsigned as of yet. Does this complex drug issue along with the challenges faced by bettors indicate that our sport in jeopardy? You bet it is. And then there would be no image left for McKinsey to polish.


Association of Racing Commissioners International

 The ARCI is the only umbrella organization of the official governing rule making authorities for professional horse and greyhound racing in North America and parts of the Caribbean.  ARCI sets standards for racing regulation, medication policy, drug testing laboratories, totalizator systems, and racetrack operation and security, as well as for off-track wagering entities.  

ARCI Quarter Horse Racing Standards Updated
by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI)

New racing regulatory standards have just been published by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) as part of a continuing process to adapt standards to current integrity threats as well as new technologies and innovation.   The standards are embodied in the almost 500 pages of the ARCI’s Model Rules of Racing and can be downloaded using the link below.

    In addition more than 70 previously unclassified substances were added to the ARCI Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances, the guiding document for horse racing’s anti-doping and drug testing program, providing guidance to regulatory authorities and labs as to the potential threat posed by the substance if found.   Unclassified substances, if found, remain a violation and are treated severely if found absent mitigating circumstances.

    The ARCI increased recommended penalties for clenbuterol and albuterol violations in Quarter Horse contests, recommending a one-year and $10,000 fine for a first violation involving either drug if found at any level.     This change, requested by the AQHA, is designed to combat the abuse and misuse of these otherwise legal medications in quarter horse contests.  

    In an effort to protect horsemen, new screening limits developed by the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) for testosterone (in fillies, mares, and geldings) and morphine (as a potential contaminant) were also adopted.  

    “The ARCI is appreciative for the work of those organizations that participate in the Model Rules process and propose changes to what has been an effective and universally accepted foundation for racing regulation,” said Ed Martin, the group’s President.  “We are particularly grateful for the contributions made by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the Racing Officials Accreditation Program, the Stronach Group, and the American Quarter Horse Association for their work on many of the standards that have been adopted.”

    The updated standards also include:
a change in the condition eligibility determination for horses which are placed first due to an adverse laboratory finding against the winning horse (ARCI-006-020); 
modifications to the coupled entries rule (ARCI-010-010); 
a description of the duties and authorities of outriders (ARCI-006-077); 

an addition to the recently adopted concussion protocol which requires jockeys to provide the results of an annual baseline concussion assessment test as a condition of licensure (ARCI-008-030), and; 

a set of guidelines for single pool (also known as merged pool) pari-mutuel calculations. The guidelines will be published as an industry advisory on the ARCI website. 

    Updates to the regulatory standards are considered three times each year and pending matters are posted at In some jurisdictions, portions of the ARCI standards are incorporated by reference in rule or statute, affording them the force of law in that jurisdiction and advancing regulatory uniformity.    

Harness Racing

The Operation was a success but the patient died
By Charles Martino

 Ironically enough that was an old Catskills joke told back in the heyday when summer time in the mountain resorts was a main stay of so many people. But today it has a different meaning, Monticello Racino has announce that the casino at the track will be closing, the machines moved to the parent company’s new Casino only location, leaving racing in Monticello in a void that will probably become an abyss.

I like most was hopeful when slots came, though I did say to everyone I spoke with “what If the handle goes down”?  In every case I was dismissed and told there will be so many people there, that they will eventually start to bet the racing it can’t happen. Now we see that not only has that happened but we now see what may be the first NY fatality.

Intrigue with everyone’s optimism I couldn’t wait till I went to see the first Racino set up, and in what now seems to be a irony it was Monticello. That walk through did leave a big impression, and it wasn’t positive. Upon that walk through the very first thing I notice was how impossible it was to get to the Tarmac to watch a race, the second was how the slot players where be quarantined away from the racing. But to me what was most devastating thing I notice was that NOTHING was improved for the racing fan experience at the track, it was the same Monticello dirty and old. I expect at least the same state of art experience that the casino people where getting to be passed on to the racing customer.

I will pause here to say, who representing the horsemen in their right mind ever thought that should be acceptable? Then when the racing started to be in the afternoons with No Weekends  (especially in the late spring and summer time) I understood fully this was not a polite merger, it was going to be a hostile takeover.  

The situation at Yonkers is not much different; some subtle improvements to the Grandstand. But the casino still isolate the slot player from the racing. It becomes ever so apparent when you are standing at the finish line where you see that long WALL of brick which make you feel you are in the back of a place you don’t belong. Add to that there is no outside seating for the Spring and summer time racing on the finish line, and again the intent is obvious. I would mention my trip to Pompano, but that was so sad and pathetic it would take 5 pages to explain.    

When I was at Monticello for the Loosh's award (2012) John Manzi gave me a tour of the upstairs offices and he pointed out to me how they had blacked out the windows that overlooked the track. No one upstairs could see the track. 
We must face there are HUGE problems on the horizon, and now the hand that we been dealt is so much weaker. They got their foot in the door, they are supplying the state who we need to protect us with plenty of money so how do we move forward? As seen with the sale of Yonkers to MGM corporations have way to raise their overheads and cry poverty. The low hang fruit usually is the first to be cut, we must realize we are that low hanging fruit.

We might have to turn this into a hostile fight, use all the evidence to prove that getting in the door was all we were used for. Prove that the design all along was to eliminate racing. Ego and Greed won’t help us in this fight and I am not sure the leadership that gave us what we have today are the same people who should lead us forward. We need a new plan that locks us into All the gaming that take place in NYS, a smaller percentage of a bigger pie. We need to be in charge of our own destiny, not some Corporation that has down to the nickel where their best interest is. This would have to be State wide programs were purse from the bottom up are standardized. Coordinated meets and racing so that the product is not dilute to the point it negatively affects what we so desperately need to sell. That should be the starting point.
When I was at Monticello for the Lucien Fontaine Lifetime achievment  award (2012),  John Manzi gave me a tour of the upstairs offices and he pointed out to me how they had blacked out the windows that overlooked the track. No one upstairs could see the track. 
Freddie Hudson

Then and Now

A Grooms Journey Part V
by, Oscar Belliveau

Now it was early October and we went to track called Blue Bonnets! It was the located in the City of Montreal. It was much bigger track than Quebec and Trois Riviere and had many more horses. I was able to make enough money to eat
and buy some extra clothes. But my diet wasn't that good and I felt a little lost. I think part of the problem was that I was eating restaurant food and I wasn't feeling very well. I’m sure I was also lonely as I didn’t quite understand that I missed my family. Adding to the loneliness was that not eating added to my mental state of mind, as eating well is a must if one wants to be in good health! At any rate, I didn't have a sense belonging there. I stayed there for about 3 weeks or so, then my luck began to change. There was a man named Benoit Cote, and he found me a job on a farm. It was called La Ferme
Richelieu. I accepted the job and moved there! I worked there for about 6 weeks. It was a very difficult job. On that farm, I helped to take care of many horses. There were mares with their foals, and many yearlings as it was a breeding farm. Besides horses, there were a couple of bulls as well.

On the farm, they had two sections. One was the breeding part, for the broodmares, foals and stallions. On the other end was the racehorse barn, and training track. There were two different trainers there. I would sleep in the barn where the training horses were, and in the mornings, I would walk to the other end of the farm to work. It wasn’t an easy time, for all I did was clean stalls all day, or helped do other chores around the farm. I don't think I did good work, as I just didn’t feel well. In my later life, I have come to understand how to be healthier, and I have become an extremely healthy person.

One day, I got on the tractor to move it, but my supervisor saw me and he fired me! I’m sure that part of the reason was that I wasn't working as hard as he thought I should have been, and he was most likely right. The man who had gotten me the job took me back to Blue Bonnets Racetrack. I was really feeling lost at that point! I think that it was a period of time that was the most difficult for me. On the farm, I made money and had a nice place to stay. On the track, it was not so nice and it was difficult to find a steady job. So I felt lost!

Over the next couple of weeks, I helped a couple of men with their horses, but I didn't feel well. I felt disjointed and unhealthy in a certain way. The need for a steady job was apparent. I would get up in the morning and make enough
money to eat for the day by cleaning stalls, washing harnesses and other chores, but I couldn't find a steady job. I'm sure my
youthfulness had something to do with it, as well as me not feeling well. I have learned in life that when one is healthy and has lots of energy, then things seem to come one’s way a lot easier, but the opposite is true if not in good health! I had staying in a tack room and most nights they had races so I could go watch them, and I did. Sometimes, I would help to care for a horse that was racing if the men I was helping had one racing. It was a sort of nomadic life, but I needed something better.

​Oscar Belliveau

One night, I was in the restaurant and two of the men that I had met at Richelieu farm walked in. They asked if I had found a job. After saying no, they then offered me one at the Richelieu farm taking care of the race horses for them. I didn't hesitate one bit, I just said yes!

They were racing a horse that night, and after the race, we loaded the horse and drove to Richelieu farm to start my new adventure. It was one that would lead to the transformation of my life on many levels. They asked me my name, and I told them it was “Smiley”, a name that stuck with me for the next 30 years, until I got out of the business. The man that became my employer was named, Denis Larochelle. He became a mentor to me and helped to get my life on a better footing. My life was taking a turn for the better, as you shall see in the coming days!

View Point

Steve Kaiser

Steve started out as a teenager in the Standardbred racing industry working at Roosevelt Raceway for Buddy Regan. His family had horses with Billy Hudson. Norman Dauplaise, Buddy Gilmour and Buddy Regan. After college Steve took over the family printing business and started to purchase Thoroughbred race horses. He is currently an owner in the Linda Rice Stables.

What Needs to be Done
by Steve Kaiser

Take for example Greyhound Racing in my State of Florida, it was put on a ballot, meaning it’s up to the voter weather or not to ban the industry, guess what, it became Law, its banned, sure, there’s a lot of puppies with no homes, but with the help of certain Societies & the public the pups will end up having excellent homes.

What I’m getting at is anything can be done, legally.

Reinventing Harness Racing is easy, start with sub committees to oversee each Racetrack consisting of owners voted in by there peers, meaning changes can be made thru bright, talented minds, forgrt the USTA, they have zero say.

Churchill Downs that owned Calder Race Course was the most profitable track in North America, meant zilch, the void Calder was missing is integrity, which I and others on the Committee brought in.

The Public had a big change of mind towards our track because attendance went up drastically, signals to watch our races via satellite went up tremendously, I was very persistent in increasingly that signal which allocated to higher purses, it became one excellent round robin.

There’s a starting point, in any industry if you want to make it successful, Churchill had nothing to do with what we implemented, yes, they gained a lot of loot & very happy at that.

We also marketed the Brand, very important.
Television commercials, large billboard banners on the interstate, and entire page ads in the Miami Herald & The Sun Sentenial, "we did it all."

The dividend was amazing, your industry would be surprised.
We were complemented and praised by so many and we changed the lives of so many, which also included everyone on the backside. I was requested o join the Task Force for Cruelty & Abuse to Animals which I joined. My Mother was the biggest supporter.

I’m not in anyway or form asking for praise and pats on the back or hear what a great job we did.

What I’m saying is it’s possible to take harness racing in an opposite direction that will be meaningful for all considered.

​Stevie Kaiser

Harness Racing

Yonkers Raceway

Yonkers Raceway, founded in 1899 as the Empire City Race Track, is a one-half-mile standardbred harness racing  track and a New York State-approved slots racino located in Yonkers, New York near the New York City border. The Rooney family, which has owned Yonkers Raceway since 1972, agreed in May 2018 to sell it to MGM Resorts International.

MGM Buy Of Yonkers Raceway Has 99 Complications, And Sports Betting Is Just One
by John Brennan

Shortly after the board of the New York State Gaming Commission green-lighted preliminary rules for legal sports betting at upstate New York casinos on Monday, the board took further action on the sale of Yonkers Raceway to MGM.
While the sports betting approval marked the middle of a complicated process, the four MGM votes marked the end of one: The 120-year-old racetrack is now under new management.

The board approved MGM Yonkers Inc. — a relative of MGM Resorts International — to conduct harness racing at the track in 2019, to offer simulcasting and account wagering as well as video lottery gaming, and to approve a byzantine debt transaction of hundreds of millions of dollars.

MGM announced its plans last May to buy the racino from the Rooney family for $850 million, but the complexity of the deal left commission staff needing more than six months to complete the review.

What’s at stake here for MGM

The decision by casino giant MGM to buy its first racetrack is a fascinating one — and a gamble at that.

The Yonkers site in Westchester County, which includes its Empire City Casino with more than 5,000 slot machines, is just under 20 miles from midtown Manhattan. The casino reports annual net revenues of more than $200 million, thanks in large part to its close proximity to millions of potential customers.

But is it worth $850 million? As well-situated as the racino is, there are drawbacks.

While the four new upstate commercial casinos will be able to offer sports betting within the next four to six months — with the same option afforded to the seven native American casinos in the state — so far Yonkers is left out of that loop.

The racino also lacks an upscale hotel. But if MGM builds one, as many local officials expect will happen, that could be a game-changer.

Another issue is the fact that the Yonkers site is barred from offering live-dealer table games, which limits the racino audience to slots lovers and those who are willing to settle for video versions of poker, craps, and other table games.

Not that there was any doubt that MGM would want to upgrade to a full-scale casino anyway, but last May’s announcement of the proposed purchase included a notice that MGM will pay an additional $50 million as part of the sale if Empire City gets a full casino license by the end of 2022.
It gets more complicated

The jockeying already has begun regarding legal sports betting expansion, with off-track betting sites and other racinos wanting in on the action, too.

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the gaming commission board in agreement that expanding sports betting sites in the state would require a Constitutional amendment, that sets up a cumbersome process in which the Legislature must approve such a plan in two consecutive sessions, and then put it to voters statewide in a third calendar year.

If politics intervenes — and this is Albany we’re talking about — that process could get backed up, cutting into Yonkers’ longterm revenues even if its efforts prove successful.
Another issue is when the state allows for online sports betting. That no doubt will be part of any referendum, but there is doubt as to which operators will get a piece of that lucrative pie.

Then there is the case of future competition. There is good reason why the Yonkers racino spent more than $1.5 million in lobbying against a 2016 referendum in neighboring New Jersey that would have permitted two “billion-dollar minimum” casinos in the northern half of the state.

The first site that comes to mind in the region is the Meadowlands Sports Complex, just 20 miles southwest of Yonkers Raceway. The Westchester track buses in North Jerseyans every day to its casino, but most of those visitors would figure to divert instead to a Meadowlands casino, especially if it offers a more robust gambling menu.

It’s the same reason that owners of a Catskills casino poured in an additional $2 million to that campaign — while Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural spent millions backing it. Gural, by the way, owns the Tioga Downs racetrack that received one of the four new casino licenses and thus is poised to add sports betting this year.

Other possibilities to consider

Another way for MGM to get the most out of its purchase of the 97-acre site could be, as some suggest, to relocate the harness racing schedule mandated as part of the deal to Belmont Park. That would open the door for the possibility of a massive, Las Vegas-like casino complex.

We haven’t even mentioned Genting yet. The well-funded Malaysian company runs the Resorts World gambling properties in the Catskills as well as at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Genting will be aggressive in protecting its interests in all this.

And let’s not leave out the biggest prize of all: the possibility of a Manhattan casino that would attract wealthy tourists all over the world. While Gural is not convinced that will ever happen, the lure of an unfathomable tax bonanza will make some legislators’ mouths water. 

Add it all up, and let’s just say it must be good to be young and a gaming lobbyist in Albany for the next few years, at least.

More News

Fraud inspectors at the French horsemeat trial say that the unusual origin was a red flag
By Paris (AFP)

French anti-fraud inspectors testifying in the trial over a 2013 "horsemeat-for-beef" scandal told a court Monday that their suspicions were aroused at one processing plant by meat that was unusually cheap and from a country with "no cattle industry".

Two former executives from France and two Dutch traders face a range of serious fraud charges which could see them sentenced to up to ten years in jail over the alleged scam.

Millions of meals were recalled from supermarkets across Europe in 2013 after they were found to contain horsemeat and not beef.

On the trial's fourth day, French anti-fraud agency officials said they noted suspicions over the Romanian origins of meat presented as beef and by its price and route the meat had taken.

"In Romania, there is no cattle industry", but rather pork or poultry, said Alain Boismartel, one of the inspectors.

During the inspection in Castelnaudary in southern France, the inspectors also believed the price was too low for the quality of beef presented and they were wary of the route it had been shipped.

Supermarkets across Europe pulled millions of products like frozen lasagne and meatballs from shelves in 2013 after the scandal broke, deepening wariness about the meat industry and food safety.

The four men are accused of helping organise the sale of 500 tonnes of horsemeat in 2012-2013 to a subsidiary of Comigel, a French company whose frozen meals were sold to 28 companies in 13 European countries.

The alleged racket saw cheap horsemeat from Belgium, Romania and Canada imported into France and then labelled incorrectly as beef, with the meat processing company Spanghero and the Dutch middlemen pocketing the profits.
Proposed law would make animal cruelty a felony across the U.S.
By Christopher Brito - CBS News

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives re-introduced a bill last week that would make malicious acts of animal cruelty a felony nationwide. A person convicted of the crime could face a fine or up to seven years in prison, or both. 

The bill, known as the Preventing Animal Cruel and Torture (PACT) Act, is co-sponsored by Democrat Ted Deutch and Republican Vern Buchanan. PACT would criminalize "crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals." The measure would also address bestiality and other attempts to sexually exploit animals.

Deutch tweeted, "We will get this done. It's bipartisan, common-sense policy that will protect our animals." 

His congressional colleague, Buchanan, also said that protecting animals from cruelty is a "top priority" for him.

"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," he tweeted.

The legislation contains exceptions for hunting, veterinary care, and actions necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat from an animal.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund supports the measure, noting that while most states consider certain acts of animal cruelty a felony, some penalties are still considered misdemeanors. The bill earned 284 bipartisan co-sponsors and more than 200 law enforcement endorsements in the previous session of Congress, according to the group. However, former Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) kept it from coming to the floor for a vote. Goodlatte is no longer in Congress and supporters of the measure are more optimistic about its chances of passing this time around.

A previous law to protect animals, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, passed in 2010 and outlaws producing gruesome videos of animal abuse.
Ontario race tracks announce new owner integrity stakes cond
by Mark McKelvie, WEG Communications

Toronto, ON — A group of Ontario’s signature race tracks — Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway and The Raceway at Western Fair District — have jointly announced a new ownership integrity stakes condition which will take effect on Feb. 15, 2019 and will apply to some of the province’s most high profile races.

Those races include the Confederation Cup, Earl Rowe Memorial, Battle of Waterloo, Battle of the Belles and Camluck Classic, all administered by the Woodbine Entertainment Group which implemented a similar stakes condition on Jan. 1 of this year.

The new stakes condition, which has received the approval of both the AGCO and COSA, is listed below in its entirety:

The Tracks

Any owner who participates in an added money or invitational event with a purse greater than $50,000 and administered by Woodbine Entertainment Group on behalf of Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, The Raceway at Western Fair District, and/or Grand River Raceway with a trainer who has an outstanding Class 1, Class 2 or TC02 positive test under appeal in any jurisdiction, shall be ineligible to participate as an owner in any of the below added money or invitational events for 12 months following the trainer’s conviction, if such trainer is later found guilty relating to the Class 1, Class 2 or TC02 positive test. (The above condition is only applicable to a positive test occurring on or after Feb. 15, 2019.)

The Races

Confederation Cup conducted at Flamboro Downs
Earl Rowe conducted at Georgian Downs
Camluck Classic conducted at the Raceway at Western Fair District
Battle of Waterloo conducted at Grand River Raceway
Battle of the Belles conducted at Grand River Raceway

Books available on Amazon 
By Authors Victoria M. Howard, Bob Marks, Billy Haughton & Freddie Hudson 

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.