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Stakes Conditions Strengthen Integrity

Published: January 5, 2018 11:04 am ET

Last Comment: January 11, 2018 6:15 pm ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Friday (Jan. 5), Woodbine Entertainment and The Meadowlands announced the implementation of the Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative (SRIAI) for their 2018 racing seasons.

Inspired by rules set out at Thoroughbred racing’s Breeders’ Cup, the Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative is designed to strengthen integrity in the sport and to respect the significant investment of owners and sponsors in the funding of stakes races.

The SRIAI’s conditions apply to 2018 stakes events at Woodbine, Mohawk Park, The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs for all owners, trainers and horses.

“The new conditions will help ensure strengthened integrity at the participating tracks, specifically in the stakes races,” said Jeff Gural, Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman and CEO. “The entire sport, including owners, trainers, drivers, and horseplayers, will benefit from this important initiative, designed to inspire confidence from existing and new owners. We encourage other tracks to join us by adopting these new stakes conditions.”

The new stakes conditions prohibit any owner, trainer, or horse from participating in an added money event if they have been found by a racing regulatory agency to have tested positive for prohibited substances as defined within the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification for Foreign Substances of Class 1, 2, TC02 or steroids after January 1, 2018.

“Racing is well-monitored by the sport’s regulatory bodies in the United States and Canada, and the participating tracks have an excellent record of racing product integrity, so fortunately, the number of positive tests is very, very low overall,” said Jessica Buckley, President, Woodbine, Mohawk Park. “By proactively updating the Standardbred Stakes Conditions, Woodbine Entertainment, The Meadowlands, and American Racing and Entertainment further demonstrate a continued commitment to ensuring a fair and safe racing environment to the benefit of everyone in the sport.”

The announcement is another collaboration between Woodbine Entertainment and The Meadowlands designed to advance transparency in harness racing.

“As industry leaders, we are working together to create added assurances for all racing participants,” said Ms. Buckley. “The intent of the SRIAI is to encourage owners to use the greatest discretion when choosing partners and trainers and to remind all horsepeople to be vigilant with their horses’ well being.”

Stakes races, including the Pepsi North America Cup and The Meadowlands Pace, are subject to the new rules.

A detailed rundown of the new conditions and a list of stakes races can be found on the track websites or within the stakes conditions books for each racetrack.


January 11, 2018 - 6:15 pmFor an industry that is going

For an industry that is going to need new owners and stakeholders, this is preposterous. When regulators started telling owners what they can do with their investment (archaic claiming rule) the writing was on the wall. Investment is about risk and reward. While such a small amount of stakeholders in the standardbred industry reap reward, this makes horse ownership simply not worth the risk. The forest and the trees can be confusing at times.

January 9, 2018 - 2:33 pmWill trainers now be forced

Georg Leber SAID...

Will trainers now be forced to post a huge bond and carry insurance to cover lawsuits? You can bet I want to sue a trainer who violates the rules and costs me money. As it is now, the majority of trainers do not have assets to cover a lawsuit, so there can be no restitution. This is standard in almost all businesses. The bond has to be at least $5 million. Can you imagine a trainer gets a positive on a cheap claimer owned by someone who owns several high quality horses (even if those horses are with a different trainer)?

January 8, 2018 - 10:45 amNow, owners of a horse that

Now, owners of a horse that has never tested positive, trained by a trainer who has never had a positive, can be suspended from major stakes races because a part owner of said clean horse, with clean trainer, owns a different horse (all or in part) with a cheater that does test positive.

This is so ridiculous on so many levels it is tough to keep track.
a) It is none of my business what other horses my partners own, and who their other trainers may be.
b) It is possible one could own 25% of a horse and never have met the other partners.
c) The penalty on horse(s) which have not been the subject of a positive is not only excessive, but undemocratic.

I would love nothing more than rid the racing industry of people who continually disregard the integrity of the sport and the well-being of the equine athletes we all love; however, this has gone over the edge and looks to put the onus on the innocent to somehow do the dirty work, while taking money right of their pockets.

It is easy to see that the future of partnerships in this business could be affected. There are fewer partnerships in my future.

Safe to say the folks at the top got it wrong yet it again.

January 7, 2018 - 2:36 pmHow does an owner protect

Georg Leber SAID...

How does an owner protect himself? I don't work in the industry, I just invest. I never go to the barn where my horses are stabled. How about Ontario Racing give us a list of all approved trainers who have been inspected and found to be clean? How do I do my homework? Should trainers who break the rules be suspended for 2-5 years without probation? If that was the case, the leaderboard at WEG would look very different.

If my trainer, and as a result, my horses, get suspended, who do I then use as a trainer?

Recently we have had an O'Brien candidate removed from consideration due to a positive test. If he would have won the award, who wouldn't have wanted him as a trainer (before news of his positive broke)?

What about drivers? Should we suspend drivers who drove a horse that tested positive? They should have checked out the trainer before driving (they actually know more than most owners).

Should we test every horse in every race instead of the winner and a random horse?

We want investment in the business yet we go after the investors, not the hands-on operators?

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