USHRAA Newsletter 
August 2018
Issue - 01

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In This Issue

Introduction, by Freddie Hudson
Bob Bencal, by Monica Bencal
Race Day Medications, by Shawn Smeallie
Lets End Horse Slaughter, by Nancy Canarelli Watson
What Urgency Do We have, by Susan Arrington
WHOA, by Staci Hancock
Who is In-Charge, by Tammy Aspden
RUS - Another Career Choice, by Allan Schott
Helping Maryland's Horses, by Brittney Carow
New Equine Welfare, by Julie Broadway
The Love of The Horses, by Oscar (Smiley) Belliveau
Where Do We Go From Here, by Charles Martino
Hambletonian Picks, by Hollywood Hayden

Introducton Letter
By Freddie Hudson

Welcome to the United States Harness Racing Alumni Association's first newsletter. Our newsletter will be published on the first of each month. While we will be covering horse and human interest stories we will be focusing on issues that are of concerns to all involved in the harness racing industry.

The mission of the USHRAA is the enhanced promotion of the harness racing sport, the passage of legislation that benefits the sport and the promotion of best practices in the aftercare of our horses.

I hope that you enjoy  reading  our articles and find them educational. I also wish to thank all of the authors that contributed to this publication. If anyone wishes to send an article, has an announcement, or comment for our next issue please email it to [email protected]

Thank you,

Freddie Hudson

Freddie Hudson

Spotlight on Bob Bencal

Bob Bencal
By Monica Bencal

For Robert John Bencal becoming a Harness Horse Trainer was not the most logical career choice, but that is exactly what happened.  As a native New Yorker born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, obviously, he did not grow up around horses. However, his father, a New York City Narcotics Detective, knew and was friends with, the Harness Driver Jim Grundy.  That was his introduction.

 After graduating high school and realizing that college was not for him, he began to hang around the barn with the veteran Harness Driver.  The lifestyle intrigued him so much that in the late ‘60’s he and his brother Ronnie traveled to FL to work at the William R. Haughton Stable.  There, they learned their craft from some of the best trainers in the industry:  the Vaughn brothers and Benny Steall.  After a couple years, Bob felt he was ready to start out on his own.

 Don Piser was Bob’s very first owner, and as fate would have it, Mr. Piser went to school with, and was good friends with, Jeff Gural.  It was Don Piser who convinced Jeff and Paula to join him in owning a horse in Bob’s newly formed stable.  That was at Monticello Raceway in 1969 & 1970.

 In 1971, Bob, along with Jim Grundy, tried their luck on the West Coast.  Jim Marohn, Sr. tagged along as the groom.  When he came back East, he decided to stable at Roosevelt Raceway and began to make a name for himself racing there and at Yonkers.  His success at one of the most competitive circuits in the country was recognized by Yonkers when they designated him as their Trainer of the Year in 1980.

 Bob made a name for himself on the NY Circuit mainly racing claimers and conditioned horses, that is until Artie Silverman joined his stable as an owner in the mid-70’s.  And while, Artie enjoyed watching his horses race close to his home near Roosevelt and Yonkers, he also desperately wanted to try his luck with yearlings.  Stone Racer, who raced against Niatross, and Artie’s Dream, who raced against French Chef, were two of Artie Silverman’s purchases that Bob developed into competitive Grand Circuit racehorses.

 These earliest pupils proved Bob also had a talent for developing youngsters.  In the early 80’s he left Roosevelt and the New York area and began dividing his time between FL and the Grand Circuit.  It was during this time that he also acquired Bob Boni as an owner.  That partnership resulted in the development of  the World Champion Camtastic whom Bob Bencal considers the greatest horse he has ever had the good fortune to sit behind.

 From 1980 until 2005 Bob ran a competitive public Grand Circuit Stable.  In 2005, after almost 40 years of racing, Bob was ready to slow down a bit.  That was when one of his earliest owners, Jeff Gural, made him a proposal:  Keep training but do so as Jeff’s private trainer.   The yearling purchases, which were mostly fillies, would hopefully become broodmares for Jeff and Paula Gural’s Allerage Farm.   Today, if you look back at the race lines of most of the broodmares Allerage Farm owns, you will see that usually, the trainer listed, is Robert Bencal.  After 52 years in the business, Bob is now retired but he would be the first to tell you that he is not only proud of what he has accomplished, but that he is also very grateful to the grooms, second-trainers, and especially the owners that helped him achieve so much.

​L-R Jeff Gregory, Bob Bencal, Ray Schnittaker and Chris Lems

​L-R Jeff & Paula Gural, Dave Stolz, Mike Lachance, Terry Watkins & Bob

Horseracing Integrity

When it comes to Race Day Medications, the burden of proof is on the trainer.
By Shawn Smeallie

Sometimes arguments can get so circular, that it is nearly impossible to get at the root of the matter. Such is the case with the use of furosemide (Lasix) in horse racing. Thoroughbred trainers believe that Lasix helps horses with exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), allowing some “bleeders” to continue racing. But there is also no doubt that a vast majority of non-bleeders use Lasix as well.

Why is this?

The answer is simple, Lasix is ALSO a performance enhancer. Horses lose 30-40 lbs. of water weight when they take the drug on race day. They run lighter, thus faster. You need only look to the Daily Racing Form to confirm this – every horse that uses Lasix has “L” by their name, and the first time Lasix user is a well-known handicapping angle.

The performance enhancing aspect of Lasix is something trainers really don’t want to talk about, but it hurts their credibility when they claim Lasix is only a therapeutic drug. Horsemen organizations have consistently opposed bipartisan legislation introduced Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) that would make uniform anti-doping regulations over the 38 racing jurisdictions and put it into the hands of an independent organization. They have sited the bill’s prohibition of race day medications as the main reason. They claim to have the health of the horse in mind. One key lawmaker told me horsemen told him that horses “will die” if they don’t have Lasix. Wow. When he learned that few horse actually need Lasix, and that every racing jurisdiction outside North America does fine without the use of Lasix on race day, he was none too pleased with these horsemen’s groups. Trainers don’t want to address those issues, but they need to.

In the Diane Gross/Paul Morley study, “Effect of Furosemide on Performance of Thoroughbreds Racing in the US and Canada,” one of the few comprehensive studies on the use of Lasix, only a small fraction of horse actually need Lasix. With 95% of horses using the drug, the most charitable reason trainers use Lasix is to “level the playing field” with a horse that needs Lasix. Less charitable reasons would be that Lasix is a performance enhancer itself or could be a mask for other performance enhancing drugs. The study concluded that “Horses that received furosemide raced faster, earned more money, and more likely to win or finish in the top 3 positions than horses that did not.” Think about how absurd this is. Only one horse in every two races needs Lasix, yet nearly every horse in the race use Lasix. The study goes on to say that “there is little objective evidence that (furosemide) reduces the severity of EIPH, or that EIPH has a negative effect on the athletic ability of horses, except in the rare case of horses with severe or catastrophic bleeds.” That is like telling your non-ADD kids they must take Adderall, just to be as potentially focused as the ADD kid, regardless of side-effects. How many responsible parents would do that?

ALL drugs have side effects, some manifest themselves early, some later. I couldn’t imagine running a mile-long race dehydrated. I don’t pretend to know about the physiology of a horse, but there is little chance it can be good for the horse.

Much is made over the extra cost for the effective anti-doping program envisioned in the HIA. Yet little consideration is given to the savings of using of fewer drugs, and the protocols given to horses after they use such drugs. For example, in a study commissioned by The Jockey Club, a real anti-doping program, which includes active out-of-competition testing, for horseracing will around $45 per horse per start. If only 5% of the horses who need Lasix use it, then nineteen out of twenty horses will save the cost of Lasix AND the post-race electrolyte treatments, which also adds significant cost. Trainers, and some tracks, all cry crocodile tears over the potential higher cost of an effective anti-doping program, but as most Thoroughbred owners already suspect (as I am one in a humble way), most, if not all, of those costs will be passed on to owners. And to their credit, most owners are willing to bear this cost to ensure fair play and the health of the equine athlete.

Shawn Smeallie

My experience in Washington has shown that weak arguments eventually get exposed, and those who push those arguments usually get legislatively punished. It is time that trainers addressed the overuse of Lasix head on and consider alternatives or solutions. The health of the horse is completed entrusted to them, and their silence on this issue is irresponsible and arguably negligent. The burden of proof is on the trainers, and they alone. Defend the use of Lasix, explain why non-bleeders must be subjected to its use, and tell the racing world why every other jurisdiction in the world can run without it on race day but North America cannot. For those trainers who cannot answer those questions honestly, I urge you to join the 70+ trainers, including Nick Zito and Graham Motion, and support the Horseracing Integrity Act.

Shawn Smeallie is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, a group of industry organizations and animal welfare organizations that support the passage of HR 2651, the Horseracing Integrity Act. He is also an avid racing fan, who grew up outside of Saratoga Springs.


Let's End Horse Slaughter
By Nancy Canarelli Watson

The US horse slaughter pipeline is the convenient dumping ground used by the horse community to throw away their horses that could have otherwise lived out a rich and productive life. It is the common pathway for shady underground criminals to eke out a living, off of the back of horses who have already given us everything they have. Almost all horses that enter the slaughter pipeline are perfectly healthy, comprised mostly of those treated as a commodity rather than the sentient beings they are. Almost ¾ are Quarter Horses, over 10% are Thoroughbreds, and 6% are Standardbreds. Because US horses are raised as athletes, companions and workmates, they receive drugs and pharmaceuticals that are banned for use on livestock. Horse meat sourced from US horses is toxic.

There’s a valid argument to be had that horse slaughter is inhumane. It is, in fact, violent, barbaric and inhumane. Horses are prey animals, therefore have an exaggerated fight or flight response to fear. In addition, they have extremely muscular necks which make it impossible to restrain them while an executioner attempts to hit a dime sized target on their forehead with a captive bolt to render them unconscious. Their brains also sit back in their skull much farther than a cow, so even if it was a perfect shot it wouldn’t render them unconscious. This means they are hoisted up by their hooves on chains, bled out, and butchered while they are fully conscious of what’s happening to them. There was a time that that Temple Grandin, consultant to the livestock community on humane slaughter methods, thought horse slaughter could be made to be humane, but has changed her position after viewing a video taken from a horse slaughter facility in Canada where a horse was shot 11 times. It is impossible to humanely slaughter a horse.

We can also argue the point that this country was built on the backs of horses. They helped us pioneer the wild west, deliver our mail, fought besides our brave soldiers in every single war, plow our fields, and were our only mode of transportation until the development of railroads and cars. Yes, we owe a tremendous debt to the horse. Where would we be without the horse? Never before has mankind partnered with another animal so closely, to discover, build and evolve a new world. When we look at paintings of our forefathers fighting in war, they rode a horse. We see statues erected all over our country with a revered figure from our country’s history, riding a horse. Horses are part of the fabric of the United States of America, and a tremendous betrayal to slaughter them for food.

There are some people who believe we have an over population of unwanted horses. We don’t. This is a manufactured crisis by a small faction of horse meat eaters who want to keep the horse slaughter pipeline available as way to dump their horses, just as Dow Chemical dumps their toxic waste. This year, we will have sent approximately 80 thousand horses across our borders to Canada and Mexico to slaughter for human consumption. However, a recent study published on MPDI shows that we have over 1.2 million homes available to a horse in need. This means we just need to do a better job of matching up the horses in the slaughter pipeline with the homes that are available to them. We have no unwanted horses.

We know that sending our horses to slaughter is inhumane, an egregious betrayal, and that we have no unwanted horses. but those of us in the horse industry know that they should be disqualified from the food chain because of the drugs and pharmaceuticals they consume. Phenylbutazone (bute) was banned for use on livestock, or food producing animals in the 1940’s because of the grave, sometimes fatal, effects it has on humans. Bute has no known withdrawal time. Do you know any horse who hasn’t consumed bute at some point their life? Horses that receive bute in Europe are forever disqualified from entering the food chain. All we have to do is pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act S.1706/HR.113, but advocates have been trying to pass a ban for over a decade. So why does Congress continue to allow toxic horse meat sourced from US horses into the food supply?

L-R Freddie Hudson, Jane Blais, Nancy  CanarelliWatson, & Susan Arrington

The United States is the largest importer of Mexican beef. 90% of Mexican beef exports are to the US, where up to 40% equine DNA has been found. The US provides 2/3 of the horses that are slaughtered in Mexico. The USDA doesn’t do species testing, nor do they test for the pharmaceuticals that are banned for use on livestock. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do the math here. The only way to protect the food supply from toxic horse meat is to ban the slaughter of US horses. Regardless of whether or not horse slaughter is inhumane or a betrayal, it is a grave public health risk. It is the responsibility of Congress, the USDA and the FDA to protect us from known carcinogens and toxic food.

My lifelong experience with connection with horses comes from Harness racing. My family has been in the racing industry for generations, and horses were an extension of our family. Yes, they kept a roof over our heads and food on our table, but they were much more than a commodity to us. I would hear people joke about sending their horse to the glue factory or the dog food company when their horse didn’t perform well, but little did I know that it wasn’t really a joke. I became very active in seeking a ban on the slaughter of US horses once I realized the horror of horse slaughter, and the powerful special interest groups lobbying Congress to keep the US horse slaughter pipeline as a viable option for them to dump their underperforming horses. The thing is, we don’t eat our horses. This dichotomy is the reason we have been unable to secure a ban with the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, but we’re hoping that changes this session. As of this writing, we are one cosponsor shy of a majority. Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-16) introduced the bill this session, and has given his word that he will get the bill to the floor for a vote once we breach the majority threshold. We can only hope that Rep Buchanan is a man of his word.

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What Urgency Do We Have for Horseracing in the 115th Congress?
By Susan Arrington

With the current legislation of immigration, a border wall, Russian interference, and a sizeable number of still-pending appropriation bills to pass after August recess, it will be a wonder if equine bills can play on this field this fall. But, we think they can – solely based on the merits of these two significant pieces of legislation.

We, at USHRAA, thought it could be useful to informally chronicle our backstory in speaking with House and Senate Members and, more predominately their staffs, toward the redemptive day that these two bills are voted on and signed into law. It would be our hope that we could, collectively, engage conversations about how things are going on this front, and how we might best approach difficulties in getting consensus on the hill on some of our most apparent and critical problems within the equine industry.

There are thousands of people invested in these issues, yet exceedingly poor practices continue, without abatement, through successive congress sessions, one after another as though no one is leading. This 115th Congressional Session of 2017 and 2018 may well be our winning ticket to passage - if we can stay tight on the rail and with all speed get to the lead.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would ban the transport of U.S. horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. The Act would, thereby, safeguard food products from containing prohibited and certain substance residues that pose risk for human consumption. Medications in the areas of tranquillizers, antibiotics, hormones, NSAIDS, opioids (fentanyl), and various other drugs are under increasing scrutiny here and abroad.

We currently have a lapse in our food supply within the U.S. and in our exports due to a lack of traceability of equines that are transported to Canada and Mexico, and preventative controls that meet food safety requirements. In 2017, the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) went into effect that “guarantees EU’s ability to set higher standards for food safety which includes meat and poultry.” The EU has made many changes to protect their food safety. We need to endorse policy that protects the long-term viability of the U.S. industry, the safety of our products, and the ethics we honor.

In 2017, the University of Mexico published a study of beef products from 6 cities’ grocery/butcher markets and found horsemeat mixed in 42% of the ground meat samples. 10% of all meat products labeled as beef or unlabeled contained horsemeat, and 93% of the tested 29 samples contained high concentrations of clembuterol which is a substance banned in the U.S. in 1991 and in the EU in 1996. There have been studies on food safety globally.

As of today, July 30, 2018, the SAFE Act has 217 (co-sponsors and 1 sponsor) of the 218 needed for majority of the House of Representatives. The last critical members co-sponsoring the bill were Francis Rooney (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Ted Budd (R-NC), Michael Turner (R-OH), and John Rutherford (R-FL). We have a few last Representatives to meet with in the next couple of days, and with a majority the bill will have reached a milestone. If constituents in their respective states will call or meet with their Representative while they are in recess and home in August, we will have a chance of this bill going to the Floor for a vote. Many individuals, groups, and organizations have contributed to this outcome to date. We wrote a provision for the Farm Bill 2018 a few months ago in an attempt to expedite the process, yet, it was not included in the final markup.

We estimated from researching the issue that Americans have been spending (privately) about $60M annually to slaughter buyers to rescue horses that were bound for slaughter. The rescues have been done to alleviate suffering of the horses during slaughter, in what many Senators this year referred to as “inherent cruelty associated with the practice.” We are saving only a portion of the horses, and the $60M could be far better used to support racehorses, their care and rehoming, rather than as profits for slaughter buyers. We are losing some very valuable and expensive racehorses often in the 4-6 year old range that, apparently, fall-through-the-cracks and end up at slaughter buyer feedlots. This is a system of managing our horses that is no longer viable for the majority of us.

The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 establishes an independent nonprofit organization, the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority, for thoroughbreds, standardbreds, and quarter horses that participate in horseracing that has a substantial relationship to interstate commerce. The bill will provide anti-doping and medication control rules, lists of permitted and prohibited substances, timelines for administration of drugs, and testing and laboratory standards.

This Act provides a means to revitalize the American public’s interest in the sport of horseracing by ensuring fair competition among entries. Drugs and sports have never mixed, and the sports industry has been effective over the past several years in ridding themselves of prohibited drugs in athletes who compete. We need fair and honest wins on race day with our horses. Along with valuable ethics for the sport, our remarkable racehorses would substantially benefit from a more humane use, or in some cases, non-use of certain medications - a fact that will not be lost on the American public. A Hearing by the Committee on Energy and Commerce was held on June 22, 2018, on the Horseracing Integrity Act.

These two bills have an excellent chance to go forward, and will make a significant difference in horseracing. We need to establish and develop a sense of urgency for congress to set a priority for us. Please contact your Representative and Senator to co-sponsor the Safeguard American Food Export Act – HR 113 and S 1706, and the Horse Racing Integrity Act – HR 2651 – Congress needs your voice.

Modern Family the race horse

Join WHOA’s 65 Standardbred Members, including Track Owner Jeff Gural, HOF Trainer Jimmy Takter and leading Owner/Breeders Cindy and Steve Stewart, and support the Horseracing Integrity Act. From owners and breeders to trainers and drivers, from industry professionals to racing handicappers – YOU have a stake in the game. By simply adding your name to the membership roster, you will support WHOA’s national grassroots movement. Visit our website for more information.

  “For our industry to move forward and return to prominence, we must eliminate performance-enhancing drugs. The mainstream media frequently paints horse racing as a drug-riddled sport while the general public views our sport with the same negativity as other sports that have suffered through performance-enhancing drug scandals. It is up to our industry to change this perception by taking an aggressive approach to cleaning up our sport. The first step towards doing this is eliminating all race day medication and considering the support of federal legislation to create a more uniform set of medication rules and strict penalties for violators.
The continued use of performance-enhancing drugs is dangerous to both our horses and human athletes. Customers have lost confidence betting on horse racing because of the lack of integrity in regards to drug use and the public views our sport as dirty. Members of our industry have refused change for too long; this step towards cleaning up the sport and restoring integrity must be taken if our sport is to survive.”

Jeffrey R. Gural 
Chairman, American Racing & Entertainment Lessee/Operator, New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC Owner/Breeder, Allerage Farms New York/Pennsylvania

“Finally we have an organization that can improve our business and sport.  God created a wonderful animal in the horse, that we have the pleasure to work with on a daily bases.  In return it is our responsibility to care for these horses and to treat them with respect. 

Horse racing is a costly business and I understand that through very competitive competition revenue needs to be generated to sustain the cost involved.  Performance enhancing drugs are not the means to improve one's chances of competitiveness. Performance drugs jeopardize the health of horses and human participants and the confidence of the betting public.  

In order for horse racing to thrive we need uniform rules/laws and uniform enforcement of these rules/laws in The United States.  The Horseracing Integrity Act can give us that.

I am very proud to be joining the efforts of WHOA.”

Jimmy Takter
Standardbred Hall of Fame Trainer

“We spend virtually every waking hour on the farm making sure the mares and foals we raise are as healthy as they can be.  And we want them to stay healthy, happy, and successful for the rest of their lives, on and off the track.  Over the decades of working toward that goal, we've come to believe that horse racing needs fewer drugs, period.  We applaud the efforts of WHOA to stop the administration of race-day drugs and hope its well-meaning efforts spread more quickly to the Standardbred industry, which has suffered long enough from suspicions that not every race is run on the level.”

Cindy and Steve Stewart
Hunterton Farms

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​Who is In-charge of Ensuring Racing Commissions are Accountable to Racing?

By Tammy Aspden

There are a lot of similarities with respect to racing in Canada and the USA. In fact racing can be seen as the same in many if not all jurisdictions across North America. So sometimes what happens in Canada can happen in the USA and vice versa.

In Ontario there is a case of a positive test certificate not being treated as a positive. In fact the commission would like to forgive all involved in the positive test and pretend the certificate was not positive - their problem is it was positive.
When the Alcohol and Gaming of Ontario, AGCO, assumed the power from the Ontario Racing Commission, ORC, they were given some additional powers, powers that the ORC never had. The Registrar of the AGCO has the absolute discretion may waive the breach of any of the rules, which waiver or breach the Registrar does not consider prejudicial to the best interest of racing, as found in rule 1.09 of the Standardbred Rules of Racing 2016.

In other words, as long as it is in the best interest of racing, the Registrar can waive compliance to any rules that are contained in the Standardbred Rules of Racing 2016.
"We received our first place purse money in March 2016 and some 14 months later we received a phone call from a judge asking us to repay the first place money as we have been moved back to second place"
In October 2016, the Registrar of the AGCO decided to use his new-found power and waive the breach of a positive test certificate that had been issued in June 2015. It’s interesting to note that the Registrar did not have this power in 2015 nor did the AGCO have jurisdiction over racing in 2015. The race in question was just an ordinary race on an ordinary night at Georgian Downs located in Innisfil, Ontario. My self and two other ladies own the horse that finished second that night. When the ORC adjudicated the positive test certificate in December 2015, it moved us from second place to first as the winner was disqualified and placed last, as the ORC determined the horse did have a positive test certificate that night in June 2015.

We received our first place purse money in March 2016 and some 14 months later we received a phone call from a judge asking us to repay the first place money as we have been moved back to second place. When asked for details, the judge confirmed the horse had a positive test certificate and that had not changed. When asked for further information, the judge said he was unaware of any of the reasons why the Registrar reversed the ORC order, and his only instructions were to ask us for our purse money to be returned. We reached out to the Manager, Racing Operations, to enquire as to how is it in the” best interest of racing “to allow a horse to keep their purse after testing positive? He in turn sent us to a lawyer from the AGCO who told us that, the reason behind his discretion are of internal policy nature and do not have to be disclosed.

Tammy Aspden

How can the industry be assured that the reasons for waiving a positive test certificate is in the best interest of racing if the commission is not willing to reveal those reasons?

Commissions on both sides of the border are mandated to protect and uphold the integrity of racing by being transparent and consistent. A positive test certificate has always resulted in a disqualification in the race. Yet here we have a case where the commission would like to do the opposite which is inconsistent to the rules and the reason for their decision is not being revealed. That is not being transparent.

We ladies were all suspended indefinitely because we cannot accept that without clarification as to why this breach was waived, could we in good conscience return purse money to a horse that tested positive. In our opinion, that would throw the integrity of the sport right out the window.

We eventually took our case to The Horse Racing Appeal Panel, HRAP, with the help of a lawyer to argue the merits of this case and to hopefully gain some kind of insight as to why the Registrar waived this breach. HRAP eventually ruled on this case and in doing so found, “In our view, the Registrar has not satisfied the onus of proof on him as the evidence adduced by the Registrar before us falls far short of supporting the Registrar’s position.” The panel went on to conclude with respect to original ORC findings as, “the Judges were correct when they disqualified the horse and ordered that the first place purse monies should be redistributed, in our view, an application of the rules to that effect serves the best interest of racing.” In other words, waiving the breach is not in the best interest of racing.

We were successful in having the Registrar’s order to waive the breach overturned and we were again placed in first place, at least for now. The Registrar was not content with that decision and has hired outside counsel and is now taking this case to Judicial Review with the argument that the HRAP has no jurisdiction to hear cases that involve the Registrar. It should be noted that HRAP has the jurisdiction to hear an appeal that involves decisions by an officer or an employee of the AGCO. The HRAP determined that the Registrar was both an employee and an officer of the AGCO.

Now times that by four, the Registrar of the AGCO repeated his absolute discretion a total of four times.

Racing Under Saddle

RUS, Another Career Choice, July Highlight
​By Allan Schott

When Hyway Marcus crossed the finish line first in a $4,000 Racing Under Saddle (RUS) race on July 15th at Ocean Downs, you may not have been overly impressed with his 2:04.2 time.  What if someone told you the 7 year old altered son of Gut Instinct has a record of 9-7-1-0 with close to $15,500 in earnings - those races in 2017-2018 for owner/trainer/rider Sasha Moczulski - over 4 years of RUS?  You may have more respect for the horse and wonder how he is doing between the sulky shafts. 

Well, truth is, you would probably be disappointed if you looked at his recent efforts.  While Hyway Marcus would qualify well in the morning, under the lights it would be a totally different story, either breaking stride or finishing far up the track.   He wasn’t always this way. In 2017 he had a record of 26-5-2-3 with a lifetime mark of 1:53.3 set at the Meadowlands at the age of 6.  Not a world-beater, but a consistent sort.  Clearly something happened to the horse after the RUS season concluded last year.

A horse like Marcus in many cases would have been retired or worse but thanks to RUS, the “Monster Under Saddle” has developed a fan base. Perhaps he soured on racing between the sulky shafts, but when it comes to RUS, he is a different horse, ready to go out there and give his 110%.  So, while Moczulski tries to figure out if it is a case of souring on traditional racing or something else, the question is will the sulky ever again be in Hyway’s future?  For now, he will continue to rule the roost of RUS.

There are many horses that would benefit from a change to racing under saddle to extend their career, others often race better pulling the sulky after a RUS race; RUS can be a discipline to benefit trotters young and old as it is in Europe (there is pari-mutuel racing on a limited basis in Ontario, Canada).  The problem is racing opportunities are extremely limited to venues such as fair races in New York and non-wagering races in Maryland and New Jersey.  Additional racing is hampered by a lack of sponsorship dollars (purses don’t come from purse accounts), and laws defining harness racing as racing with a sulky need to change (although RUS is legal in Virginia but without commission rules promulgated). 
No one would ever suggest more than a few RUS races a week at best would take place at pari-mutuel raceways were RUS made legal in racing jurisdictions, but supplementing harness racing with RUS would be a win-win; give horses another racing discipline to alternate with and extending careers for some horses who need a new job.  For more information about RUS, visit RUS MidAtlantic ( and/or RUS New York (

​Hyway Marcus & Sasha Moczulski, photo credit Clarissa Coughlin

Maryland Equine Transition Service

Helping Maryland's Horses
By Brittney Carow

The Maryland Equine Transition Service (METS) is a statewide equine safety net initiative of the Maryland Horse Council that provides alternatives for horses needing homes by helping owners identify and select the best transition options. METS is now in its final planning stages and will be ready to help horses and owners this summer.

According to the latest statistics published by the American Horse Council Foundation, Maryland now has over 100,000 horses, many of which will have different owners throughout their lifetimes. METS can help owners find the right option for their horse. “Often times horses fall into dangerous situations because their owners need assistance but don’t know where to turn for help,” says METS Director, Brittney Carow. By offering owners feedback and guidance about safe and reasonable alternatives, and by encouraging the Maryland horse industry to work together to provide those options to owners, it is

METS’ goal to decrease the likelihood of horses ending up in unsafe or inhumane situations. Using a mobile assessment team, the program provides owners with individualized equine assessment services and transition options based on the specific needs of their horse. Options include marketing assistance, facilitating placement in a new home, and guidance for end-of-life decisions.

METS is currently working hard to recruit a statewide network of individuals and organizations within the industry that will work together to provide options to owners. Licensed equine facilities, veterinarians, trainers, rescues, boarding facilities, and other professionals are all being asked to join the network and enable METS to carry out its mission. Volunteers and supporters from the equestrian community are also integral to the program’s success. Those who join the network can do so at no cost and are under no obligation to assist.

METS’ ability to help horses in need is all dependent upon the network that it builds. Those interested in joining the METS network can do so by emailing [email protected] For further information about METS, visit its website at

Brittney Carow

America Horse Council

New Equine Welfare Data Collective Launching Project to Understand the Metrics of Horses in Transition
By Julie Broadway

New Equine Welfare Data Collective Launching Project to Understand the Metrics of Horses in Transition
The Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) is pleased to announce the creation of the Equine Welfare Data Collective (EWDC), a collaborative effort to accumulate, analyze and apply data to enhance programming for transitioning and at-risk horses.  Funding partners of the Collective are The Right Horse Initiative, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Foundation.

“The equine industry has primarily been working off of anecdotal data when it comes to horses in the rescue pipeline,” said UHC Chair Kristin Leshney. “With the various industry initiatives that are taking place to help horses in transition, it’s essential to have up-to-date and concrete numbers to determine if the programs in place are effective in helping horses transition safely and find homes. This collaborative effort will benefit the entire equine community and most importantly, the at-risk horses in the United States.”
“Solid data is critical to measuring the impact of any large-scale effort,” said Christy Counts, President of The Right Horse Initiative. “As our partners continue to create innovative solutions in equine welfare, we look forward to being able to measure the positive impacts on horses in transition as well as guide future decision-making and strategy.”

“Understanding the landscape of risk for equines is a vital component for us all to develop meaningful, impactful and sustainable solutions for improving equine welfare,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, Vice President of Equine Welfare for the ASPCA.  “This Collective will give the equine industry a better understanding of risk and opportunities for horses, and it will help us all as we move forward to assure impactful programming.”
“Data is knowledge and this information will help the industry to continue to improve the health and welfare of these horses,” said AAEP President Dr. Margo Macpherson.  “We look forward to working collaboratively for the good of the horse and their caretakers.”

All who are involved with horses in transition will be able to have access to the aggregate data.  The success of the EWDC depends upon shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, funders and other organizations that house, or support the housing of, horses in transition to contribute data to the collective and to encourage all groups to do the same. The funding organizations have committed to work collaboratively to bring this resource to the industry and encourage all to participate.  
The EWDC anticipates the data collection to begin this year. The initial data set will focus on baseline data from rescues and sanctuaries including current capacity of rescues and sanctuaries, age, sex, breed of horses in their care, and the number of horses taken in each year.  All data collected will be aggregated so no individual organization is identified, and all data will be used to help develop programs and solutions to fill any gaps in current programming, as well as measure progress in current initiatives. The EWDC hopes that all rescues and sanctuaries will assist in the effort to collect this much-needed data.  Please contact the UHC if you have any questions at 202-846-1607 or [email protected]

Then and Now

The Love of Horses and Sharing My Life
By Oscar (Smiley) Belliveau

Harness racing has been in my blood since I was a young child. I was raised in a small town called Dieppe in New Brunswick, Canada in the 1950’s and 60’s. It was the home of Moncton Raceway, which was about 3/4 of a mile from my house. I remember the cars heading to the races on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. At the very young age of 7, I would leave my house and walk to the track to look at the horses in the mornings. From that, I was attracted to horses and the culture that it brought to my life. At some point, a trainer told me to not come there anymore because of my age.

During those years, life was far different than our modern age. It was normal for the children to go out to play for extended periods of time without having parents afraid for their safety, because our neighborhood was a safe place to live in. In those early days, the town of Dieppe wasn’t overly developed and most everybody knew everybody else. There were fields, marshes and forest all within a short walking distance from our house. There was a farm behind our house as well, and they had a horse, Queeny, who did all the work. No tractors! I remember when she ran away one day, and I was sitting on a small footbridge that spanned the ditch in front of our house, and she jumped over me. I couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. It did strike a chord
inside of me, than I’m sure affected my connections with horses later on in my life.

That horse did all the work, from getting the soil ready to plant crops, and to cutting the hay and bringing it to the barn. We’d follow her as she walked around doing the assigned work, and we’d get rides on the wagon from time to time. When hay season came, they would cut the hay with
her pulling the cutting attachments, as we smelled the freshness of that cut hay. The next morning, they would come and make hay mounds, since there were no bailing machines on that farm. We’d play hide and seek in them to our heart’s delight. That night, some neighbors would pitchfork the hay onto the hay wagon, then we’d ride it to the barn where they’d pitchfork if off. This went on from late afternoon into the early evening. What joy it was for me, one that I have never forgotten.

In time, my awareness for horses and the racetrack became more pronounced. There were many factors that attracted me to horses, for as young child, I was awestruck by the sight of horses that would be shipping in from other tracks and we’d would look at them as the trucks and trailers drove past our house. Or at other times, we’d have a runway horse with a group of horsemen chasing after it, which made the track an intriguing place and it attracted me. There were the nights when they held the biggest race of the year, “The Monctonian,” and we’d go to see the huge crowd that came from all around the maritime to see this great race.

At the age of 12, I started delivering newspaper on my road (Gauvin rd) and the last house on my route was next to the track. I started to stop in and watch the trainers jog their horses in the snow sleds. Winter was severe back then, so starting in December on, they jogged them in the big sled
with the skis on them. Watching them was always a fascinating experience for me. There was something that attracted me in ways that I couldn’t really understand, but that I felt very strongly. Naturally, I became acquainted with the boys helping the trainers out and I formed friendships that made it easier for me to start helping out myself. From that time on, I began to hang out most of the time. After school, on weekends and on race nights and during our holidays, were spent around the horses. It was a connection with horses that lasted for 30 years, but that remains a part of my life to this day, but not as physical a connection.

The lure and culture of racing was very strong and I was fully invested in it. The sights and sounds of small track racing was something special to have lived. I remember the old legends of the business in that area. Guy Gaudet, Ned and Joe Goguen, Doctor Delaney, and may more who where the main trainers of that period. We’d listen to them talk about the horses and tell the stories that so fascinated us. When a horse won a race in 2:07, he was a champion. A decent horse was one that raced in 2:12. The purses were low, so it wasn’t the money that drove them, but the love of racing. Most trainers and drivers had a day jobs. I remember helping Guy Gaudet (the leading driver at the time) load his truck with boxes of goods that he delivered all over the place. Once, I
rode with him on his route in the middle of winter, and froze my feet in that cold truck, but I loved it.

Oscar (Smiley) Belliveau

All those experiences added up to my fixation on racing horses as away of life. All the feelings that I experienced in those days affected my life in ways that are still being felt today. Helping out in that kind of environment helped to develop a sense of nature and the power that it possess. We saw colts and fillies being born and we saw some horse that had gotten sick die. It helped to foster an understanding of life that was in a sense very powerful and connected me to
life in a very concrete manner. One gets in what one puts in, although I also learned that things happened in which we had no control. It taught me to be fluid in my thinking and to be aware of my surroundings and the need to cooperate with and change when situations demanded it. Being around horses was perfect for building a strong character.

This was racing at its best. It was a way of life that helped to enrich me in ways that deeply enhanced my ability to understand life. In the world of horses, the proof is in the pudding. Talk is cheap, and actions and results speak louder than words. It taught me to pay attention to details,
to solve problems and to learn to think for myself.

In school, my studies left a lot to be desired, so in 1966, at the age of fifteen, I ran away to work as a groom. Eventually I made my way to Montreal, Quebec, where I worked with horses for 3 plus years, then in time I moved to New York to work on the Roosevelt and Yonkers Raceway circuit. I saw the best of the best horses, trainers and drivers during the many years working there. It was fascinating to watch these champion of champions race. From Une de Mai winning the
International trot, Nevele Pride, Fresh Yankee, Super Bowl and so many more, I watched history being made. I learned the difficult lessons of life and experienced the passion of horse racing. I grew as a person and learned a lot about life.

In 1995, I left the business to raise my family and eventually moved to Shanghai, China. I follow racing on a daily basis but I don’t have much hands on contact, other than advising a few people now and then. I know that the business has changed, and from what I gather, it isn’t like it was. I follow the races every day and even do some astrology on some horse to keep me up to date on the horses and how they are doing. I suspect that I will be following races for a long time to come. As a matter of fact, I am heading to   Maryland in late September for a holiday, so I will make sure that I spend a couple of days at the races and possibly at a training center. That way, I can get to do a little of what I had done for many years.

Harness Racing

Become A Member

Where Do We Go from Here?
By Charles Martino

As I watch our industry's woes, I find there are no shortages of ideas out there on how to improve the game. But for this piece, I would like to step away from that and ask what may be the hardest question: where do we go from here?

What is ever more apparent is we've become unwelcome guests in what used to be our own home. Unlike 30 years ago where the people who own the race tracks were people who wanted to be in the racehorse business, today those same venues are now owned by people who want to be in the casino business. As the sale of Yonkers Raceway shows there is also the possibility of ending up in the hands of others that may have an ultimate plan to end racing.

Our problems didn't start with racinos - we were losing customers well before the change to the racino model took place. But the fact that it has been exasperated by racinos, when in truth the plan was that they would be the life line that would SAVE US must cause pause.

That plan was to expose more and different people to harness racing, with the hope that we could add them as regulars to our nightly show. But that never happened, instead they designed the buildings in a way to quarantine those people from racing, and worse for the racing fans that do go - a feeling that they were of little importance. The fact that they did quarantine those people from racing is on them, but the fact we are in this situation is all on us.

I remember racing Roosevelt in 1985, a study by the state was employed by the so-called experts. The bulk of their recommendation was Close Roosevelt, and go down to one track, Yonkers. My instant thought was Roosevelt had a captive audience being on an island, where Yonkers was receiving competition from the Meadowlands and to a lesser degree Monticello who also raced week nights back then.

Roosevelt was also located  in a county that was in the top 20 per capita counties in the nation and the facility itself was far superior. Well, a few years later the land grab for Roosevelt happened, and the horsemen ended up with just that, Yonkers only. That one event was probably the most crushing blow to the NY horsemen ever. I mention this because the so-called experts were anything but. The way forward will be hard - we have destroyed the business model in so many ways.

Those who led the way were much smarter than us, they knew the value of a barn area, they valued their horses, good help, and they understood that it was their job to put on a good show nightly. We, on the other hand, failed our customers - we didn't recognize many of the wrong things happening as they were going on. We should have understood that a driver winning 5 or 6 races on the card wasn't good for business. The same goes when a couple of leading trainers are winning races at a 20% rate. 

By chasing speed, we changed the mathematics of races we had made exciting and come- from- behind wins became harder and a rarity. Thus now speed is so predominate that for most  people their horse doesn't have a shot to win by the 1st quarter. We now have a too predictable product that is unable to catch a newcomer’s emotions with excitement.

As I said before, there is no shortage of ideas but there is a shortage of will by those who can make change happen. I will say this, change should not and will not be comfortable - we must look at the business as a whole. That includes supplying some funding for rescue and retraining faculties who tend to finding homes for our retired horses who gave us a livelihood while they were racing.

We must push the top from the bottom up and make sure the playing field is level for all to compete in. Failure can't and shouldn't be an option

2018 Hambletonian
August 4th at the Meadowlands

Hollywood Haydens Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks Picks

Hambo Winner:  Atlanta-the first filly in 22 years to win the Hambo-the LONGEST ever gapin the 93 year history of the race

Hambo Oaks Winner-Phaetosive-Trond Smedshammers got a great history with the 3YOTF-Blur-Housethatruthbuilt-Stroke Play and the 2008 Oaks winner Creamy Mimi

Note-EACH of the last THREE Horses Of The Year have gone down to defeat on Hambo Day!

2017 Hannelore Hanover was 4th in the Steele Memorial at 20 cents on the dollar

2016 Always B Miki was only able to get a smaller share as Shambla and Wiggleit Jiggleit went 1-2 in the U S Pacing Championship, now referred to asthe Sam McKee Memorial

2015 Wiggle It Jiggle It was 4th asthe Cane Pace debuted at the Meadowlands-he went on to be HOY

Note-10 of the last 15 trainers who won the Hambo were born OUTSIDE the United States


Chuck Sylvester won the 1993 Hambo Oaks, now will try and win it a quarter CENTURY Later with Hey Blondie.

Hollywood Hayden