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Changes Pending To Eligibility Rules

Published: January 11, 2018 4:35 pm ET

Last Comment: January 15, 2018 1:52 am ET | 13 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Trot Insider has learned that the recent stakes eligibility rules outlined by the Woodbine Entertainment Group and The Meadowlands under the umbrella of the Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative (SRIAI) may undergo some changes before the end of the month.

Clay Horner, Chairman of the Board at Woodbine, confirmed to Trot Insider on Thursday that some changes are under serious consideration. One change will affect horses and trainers in a manner outlined by the following scenario:

► Horse X is owned by owners A, B and C and trained by trainer L, who is considered to be a higher-risk trainer due to a recent record of significant positive tests.
► Horse Y is owned by owners A, D and E and trained by trainer M.

If Horse X receives a positive test, and owner A owns at least 25 percent of both Horse X and Horse Y, Horse Y will still be eligible to compete in its stakes races but the purse Horse Y earns would be reduced by an amount equal to the percentage ownership of owner A in Horse Y.

In the event a horse receiving a serious positive test is trained by a lower-risk trainer, while that horse would become ineligible for future stakes races, other horses trained by that trainer could be transferred to another unaffiliated low-risk trainer and compete in future stakes races for a full purse share.

"The important part is that we can say we're going to concentrate on punishing those individuals that use higher-risk trainers and have new serious positives with that trainer," Horner told Trot Insider.

With feedback on the original ruleset placed into question by a number of trainers and owners over the past week, Horner noted that he personally discussed the proposed changes to 13 individuals and groups with expressed significant concerns. After those discussions, each of those parties indicated that they would be on board should any revised policy include the revisions that are under contemplation.

While an official release will be issued as soon as possible pertaining to these potential changes should response continue to be positive and the changes are approved by both The Meadowlands and WEG, Horner did say that the final language of the rule will require some detailed drafting and may not be available for sometime thereafter. However, these rules will be complete and available in a meaningful amount of time for the February 15 stakes payment deadline.

January 15, 2018 - 1:52 amI love when cheaters are

I love when cheaters are punished, but if we are trying to improve our sport and encourage new owners to enter this is a joke.

In sport:
This would be comparable to something similar to Tiger Woods being sponsored by Nike. If Tiger gets caught with illegally produced equipment then yes, it's Nike's fault,
but if Tiger does something wrong with PED's, and cheats, how could you possibly punish Nike and expect them to pay for Tiger's error?

Outright ridiculous.

Only possible way it could work is if the tracks publish, to all owners and the public, that the following are "high risk trainers". The owner should immediately have the option of removing that trainer as trainer of record, and finding a replacement. That way the owner and betting public are aware that X-trainer has been guilty multiple times etc of cheating. In that case yes, I am all for it because if you are made aware that X-trainer is a cheater you should get rid of him. The end result when everyone gets rid of that trainer, is that he has to go to another career. That would help clean up the industry.

January 14, 2018 - 2:04 pmNorm - In fact, the rule will

Norm - In fact, the rule will have a dramatic positive impact on overnight racing and is intended to do that. Any owner wishing to participate in those significant stakes is incented to use a lower risk trainer for all of his horses. That is already taking place as we are aware of a number of raceway horses that have already moved from higher risk trainers to lower risk ones - and the same is true for some promising two-year-olds. The proof is in the pudding but some good servings are already on the table.

January 13, 2018 - 10:04 amProblem with that is, the

Problem with that is, the cost of insurance and bonding will be passed on to the owners, which will get rid of a few more owners.

January 13, 2018 - 6:38 amI'm all for drug free racing,

Tim Dean SAID...

I'm all for drug free racing, but don't believe track ownership and management should use the owners as leverage to carry out their dirty work... don't paint the whole industry with one brush... deal with the issues firmly.

January 12, 2018 - 9:12 pmThis rule only applies to

Norm Brunet SAID...

This rule only applies to stakes that have been paid into at the named tracks added events and DO NOT apply to overnight races or State or provincial stakes like the OSS or NYSS. Track owners can't stop a license participant from entering into stakes that were paid into another entity like the Ontario Sires Stakes and others.

If you were to count how many stakes take place at the named tracks, they would not amount to more then 100 stakes, and maybe some 250 races altogether. A very small percentage of races contested all over North America.

This is nothing more then a bunch of elite owners and breeders whom don't represent more then 5% of the industry as a whole trying to protect their interest in the industry.

I race mostly overnight stock and not from having tried to get a stake horse. For the past 10 years, it has not been interesting to go to post and race for 2nd or 3rd money knowing full well that you could not beat a trainer or 2. Now that these trainers have enough wealth they are climbing into the Stake portion of the industry and the Big boys don't like it. I wish these people would of cared enough 10 years ago and bring out similar rules.

January 12, 2018 - 5:00 pmTo say that this initiative

To say that this initiative has missed the mark is an understatement at best.
Sure there are owners who have a propensity for employing so called “ dirty trainers” in order to benefit, but this is why the 90 day rule was put in place.
The real issue as I see it is that there are a growing number of trainers getting positive tests who immediately appeal these positives, often claiming environmental contamination, and who are allowed to continue to race.
By the time their appeal is heard, months, if not years may have gone by, at which point the trainer has continued to race.
And I know I will have detractors out there that will claim that environmental contamination does occur and to you I say you are correct,
My solution is as follows,
First offence ie positive test (class 1,2 3) you are allowed to appeal and continue to race until such a time as your appeal has been heard.
Second offence you are immediately banned from racing until you have gone through the appeals process. At this point the HRAP (Horse Racing Appeals Panel) will have heard your case and rendered a fair and impartial judgement.

The net affect is that trainers who are victims of enviromental contamination but otherwise have a clean record are given the benefit of the doubt and able to continue to race, but those with previous infractions are taken out of action until such a time as they have had their day in court.
Note that it is my view that class 4 and 5 infractions are much less serious and often the result of honest errors made on the part of trainers and/or their staff. These should be dealt with swiftly with a monetary fine and/or a brief suspension depending upon the circumstances.
By implementing a system such as I have proposed, honest horsemen are afforded a level playing field upon which to compete. So-called dirty trainers are eliminated from racing, at least for the time being, the welfare of the horse is protected, and the betting public is protected.
The onus should not be on owners to identify and ultimately be held responsible for the actions of trainers they choose to employ.
The trainer needs to be held accountable and by ensuring that a procedure is put in place that deals harshly with repeat offenders yet is sensitive to the plight of those who may be victims of unfortunate circumstances. This is the way to go.
Horse racing is a struggling industry and we must move forward with an eye toward fairness for all involved, yet deal harshly with those who insist on using drugs to gain an edge.
The good of racing at large must supercede that of the individual, and if participants insist on cheating then they must be stopped from manipulating a system that currently enables them to do so.
Our survival depends upon it.

January 12, 2018 - 2:21 pmIf they are making changes,

Georg Leber SAID...

If they are making changes, then right now is the time to add the conditions that all trainers must be insured and bonded to protect the owners. Without that, the industry is a not a serious business venture but a pastime. This will impact the yearling sales on a go forward basis.

January 12, 2018 - 10:29 amThe proposed new rules will

The proposed new rules will start to make sense the day WEG and the Meadowlands will start publishing a list of names of all "risky" trainers at their tracks.

January 12, 2018 - 7:13 amWho is making the ultimate

John Jackson SAID...

Who is making the ultimate determination as to who is deemed a "high-risk trainer"? How long is someone a purported high-risk trainer and after that time-frame, do they graduate to a low risk trainer?
Will there be a published list of every trainer's rating so anyone entering the business or looking to move stock will be able to make an intelligent business decision?
What is significant positive tests and what is recent in the time determinant?

Lets say my horse wins a big stake, but one of the owners had another horse who received a positive, who gets his share of the winning purse or is the program going to read purse $1,000,000 unless horse X wins, then the purse is $750k? You plan on putting into the program that Trainer Joe is a high-risk trainer while Trainer Jan is not (good luck with that).

Lots of questions. These types of decisions certainly make marketing the game to new and perspective owners much easier - NOT !

January 11, 2018 - 11:09 pmWill somebody be applying the

Will somebody be applying the Scarlett A on the barn doors of the “high risk” trainers? Why do owners need to make these determinations? Just take the licence away once and for all. If these trainers are so risky why are they allowed to be around these animals in the first place?

January 11, 2018 - 10:47 pmIt has been very sad to watch

Greg Perry SAID...

It has been very sad to watch our business over the years. Now the top policy makers spend their days trying to identify high or low risk trainers and owners that do business with them so we can brew up a plan to bring integrity back to our sport. Without realizing it we have destroyed our sport by pointing fingers at ourselves.
Many years ago I had lunch with a board member around the time a top young female trainer was on a roll, and was being put in detention - not for positive tests but for winning too many races. He said the reason was that they didn't know what she was using but she was using something.
I was shocked to hear this from somebody in that position. As time went on she didn't receive a rash of positives but became one of the top trainers in the industry. I wondered if telling the public and others in our industry, by putting her in detention, that we thought she was a cheater did our business any good. These days I listen to trainers blame their own poor performance on these "cheaters" and they really believe it. I don't think that we can afford to lose many more owners because we need more investment, not less. I'm all for testing the hell out of everyone and penalizing the guilty but if we keep airing our unfounded suspicions, the public and owners, whats left, are going to keep leaving.

January 11, 2018 - 10:37 pmThis is the new state of

Don Patrick SAID...

This is the new state of racing. While I am at work every day earning a living, in part to make money to invest in horse racing, I am also required to somehow police any trainer I may have training my horses. The regulator doesn't want to their job, so the onus in part falls on us, the horse owners.

I can't count how many people I know that have given up on this sport. Here comes another rule likely to push people away from racing.

Consulting with 13 people of the thousands of participants in the province? That sounds about right.

January 11, 2018 - 8:07 pmLast fall I purchased my

Diane Bryant SAID...

Last fall I purchased my first shares in a standardbred yearling, this has been a dream come true for me. I am now a shareholder in with the McDonald's. Anthony has been nothing but honest and transparent with us. I have been out to the training centre, been treated to a beautiful dinner at Flamboro Downs by them, and can't say how excited I am to be a part of this. Until now when I read this new rule they are bringing in. Maybe it's because I'm not familiar with the ins-and-outs of this industry but can someone please explain to me why they feel punishing the owners for a crime they don't commit is right? My first thought was to sell my shares, and than I thought "no, I'm not getting rid of something I want to do because someone sitting in a office came up with this crazy plan." My thoughts are they want the owners, who have no knowledge of the trainers actions, to help get rid of them. The owners don't know what the trainers are doing. There are certain trainers that have been suspended and than allowed right back after they serve their time. You, the track, are the ones allowing these trainers to keep coming back. So I ask, how many people are you going to lose with this new rule? The way I see it, this industry can't afford to lose anymore owners. STOP making owners do your job!

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