Proposal To Root Out 'Beard' Trainers

Published: March 15, 2017 04:33 pm EDT

On Wednesday, March 15, Standardbred Owners Association of New York President Joe Faraldo released a proposal to the industry on how to weed out ‘beard’ trainers.

The contents of Faraldo’s proposal appear below.

Bearded Trainers – An Industry Proposal

by Joseph Faraldo, President, Standardbred Owners Association of New York

Let’s face it – our industry loves to demean itself and is often the victim of self-inflicted wounds and so let’s acknowledge that we will have difficulty drawing any new people to harness racing unless we address ongoing rumors and innuendo and start tackling issues – or even supposed issues – in a fact-based, structured manner. A perfect example is the issue of ‘beard’ trainers and I would like to suggest action is needed immediately by industry stakeholders to clarify exactly what the scope and scale of the problem is and then root it out entirely.

The issue of beard trainers is one of those things we all believe to be true, despite lacking the type of details and data that would either substantiate or disprove the many industry pronouncements we often hear (and the tendency to feed upon these pronouncements like piranhas doesn’t serve anyone’s interest). So why don’t the commissions proactively put this to bed and take concrete steps to end the careers of beards and those who utilize them with a coordinated, thoughtful industry initiative?

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York has taken a first step to do just that and has sent an open letter to the Executive Branch, the New York Gaming Commission, formally requesting that they incorporate the following proposed procedure to weed out any and all so called beard trainers. And since this is not a unique problem to New York harness racing, but also seems to be endemic at a number of tracks, I would offer an invitation to all concerned industry participants especially horsemen to join with the SOA of NY and support this initiative in other jurisdictions as well.

The intended purpose is to seek a regulatory procedure to expose factually, not anecdotally, beard trainers. To follow, will be a similar recommended course regarding undisclosed owners or beard owners seeking either the avoidance of race conflicts or as a consequence of some impediment to their identity being revealed on the racing program.

The commissions having this jurisdiction should incorporate a number of suggested protocols as soon as possible. And the presiding judges, under their broad powers to regulate racing, can and should delegate to an associate judge the following directives to ferret out this serious problem:


  • At each track in your state or commonwealth, the presiding judge should assign to one or more of his/her associate judges the task of asking in writing – to any trainer, at any time – to supply the following information:

    • The number and names of all horses in your care for whom you are listed as trainer.

    • The name/s of all help employed or working as an independent contractor directly in the day to day care of horses under your control.

    • The location of any and all horses under your care, including the farm, training centre and the name/s of any other trainers with who you share a barn during the relevant period.

    • The names and addresses of any and all veterinarian/s, farrier/s, and supplier/s of feed and/or tack that are utilized for the care of those horses. Include the name/s of the contact person you communicate instructions to when requesting care, service or supplies.

    • Copies of proof of payment to the daily employee/s or independent contractor/s including vet/s, farrier/s and supplier/s of feed and tack.

    • Copies of the last Worker’s Compensation quarterly filing listing your covered employee/s.

    • Copies of any and all bills sent to the owner/s of the horse/s for which you are the programmed trainer.

    • Copies of any and all deposit slips demonstrating payment related to the care your horses for which you are the programmed trainer.

    • Copies of evidence of proof of payment, if any is made to the farm or training centre where your horses are trained or turned out, and if you are not the payer, indicate who is and their address.

    • Copies of payments, if any, made by you , to any other person or persons who now hold or have held a trainer's license in this or any other jurisdiction within the last ten years in this or any other jurisdiction.

    • Copies of evidence of proof of payment, if any that is made to the farm or training centre where said horse/s are trained or turned out, and if you are not the payer, indicate who is and their address.

    • Copies of proof of payment received from any other person or entity that either holds a license issued by the commission, or not, for any services related to your care of horses for which you are the programmed trainer.

    • Copies of payments made to any other person or persons , licensees or non licensees of the commission which in whole or in part represent a distribution of earned purse money less driver/trainer fees and cost of care.

    • The name and address of your billing agent or accountant.

  • The associate judge will, upon making the request, immediately inform the commission in writing that said request was made, to whom it was made, and the date thereof. If the trainer is not in attendance at the track, the designated trainer shall be so notified and asked to acknowledge the notice. In the event of the non-appearance at the track of the programmed trainer, a writing shall be sent to the trainer at the address appearing on his license application, certified mail with return receipt requested.

  • All records hereby requested shall be for the period encompassing the last completed quarter of the year or quarter in the prior year preceding the request. Said records are to be provided pursuant to this request within forty five (45) days from the date of the writing and or acknowledgement by the trainer or his/ her designated substitute.

  • Notice of failure to provide this information within the time set forth will be sent to the commission with a request to issue a subpoena for those documents along with a request by the presiding judge to the commission to commence a formal investigation.

  • Individuals would not be the subject of multiple requests from each track raced at, as once an associate judge informs the commission of the request that will constitute the sole request that needs to be complied with for that period. In no calendar year will a trainer be requested to supply thus information more than for two quarters.

  • The judges shall keep a listing of any and all information received regarding suspected beards whether the judges in their discretion, act upon the same or not.

Once again, the idea behind this thoughtful, substantive and fact-based initiative is to stop once-and-for-all the rumor mongering undertaken by too many individuals in this business and that, frankly, too many of us simply accept as true. Let’s finally get all of the actual facts on the table and then either honestly or transparently resolve the problem we all ‘believe’ exists and ferret out beards or stop accusing people of something unproven. I am fully confident it can be done the right way and all it takes is the resources currently possessed by the regulatory agency. While this is not perfect by any means, the thought process is to have the commissions undertake without tremendous cost the necessary regulatory function of addressing this problem.



With respect Mr Thomas, I certainly do not believe you can "change history",(although it can be rewritten/fake history), and I know of no one who does think it can be changed. That said there is a far more important question. Since what has been happening for decades in racing in general and harness racing in particular is well know throughout the industry and even to some degree outside the industry, the question is who has it benefited and why has it been allowed to continue!

In reply to by Dr Wayne Robinski

Well Wayne I understand your concerns.
In order to start with your plan of ideology you first have to put forth the tools to enforce the new era.
Won't be long before there is progress. Much like the good work Mr Gural is doing at the Meadowlands.

In reply to by Dr Wayne Robinski

Wayne, the reason it has been allowed to continue is because the governing bodies do not have the tools to do anything.
Change is good for the sport.

This is a starting point and you have to start somewhere but the only way to eliminate this problem with certainty for suspended trainers is, if each track has a lock up center where they can lock up suspended trainers for the length of their suspension(LOL) I am not sure how popular this would be with the trainers but it may keep them honest.

And exactly why, is all of the above not being done already??

In reply to by Dr Wayne Robinski

Wayne, you can waste a lot of time trying to change history. Nobody has yet to manage that. The important issue here is to make sure history does not repeat itself.
So implementing changes has to start somewhere a some point.
That starting point is today...

I think this is an awesome incentive as we need to take steps to ensure the sport survives, and the issue of person(s) being listed as trainers and owners in the sport, who are not, is a detriment to the survival of the sport. With decades of bad publicity that there is rampant cheating and fixing of races, the sport has suffered. Without changes, the smaller areas will die and only the largest of the markets will be left with a continued decline.
Any change for the positive is great news. I can't see why "legitimate" trainers or owners would have issues with this. Other professional sports have sanctioning bodies and athletes are required to meet certain conditions in order to remain eligible etc. Why should harness racing be any different?

Having owned several horses over the years as well, I saw trainers being put down on a horse because one was set down etc. just so the horse could continue to race and yet the trainer was at the track every day as normal.

If our sport truly wants to survive it needs to look hard at these situations and stop making excuses or blame casinos etc. At least with a casino bettors/gamblers know where they stand. How does the racing industry expect to win over new fans if they continue with the problems of the past without fixing or addressing them? Answer is: They won't.

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