Silence not necessarily golden in Oklahoma dermorphin probe

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Horses racing in Oklahoma earlier this year were the first to test positive for the powerful drug dermorphin, but the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission has kept a tight lid on details surrounding the 15 horses detected with the drug in their system by Industrial Laboratories of Colorado.

No horses, trainers, or veterinarians have been named, no complaints filed, or hearing dates announced. All that has been confirmed is that 15 horses racing at Oklahoma tracks tested positive for dermorphin, a Class 1 drug whose origin is found in tree frogs of South America, thereby earning it the nickname “frog juice.” The races were run in April and May and it is believed refereed split samples were sent to Louisiana State University’s testing lab for confirmation several months ago. The LSU lab separately detected a number of dermorphin positives for horses racing in Louisiana.


Silence from the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission does not mean these cases are not going to be prosecuted, according to Mary Ann Roberts, staff attorney for the regulatory agency.

“The commission has declined to comment further to the media about cases which have not yet been adjudicated,” Roberts wrote in response to questions about the alleged frog juicers.  “The fact that we have refrained from speaking to the press should not be interpreted as indifference.

“Obviously,” Roberts continued, “these cases are of paramount importance to the horse racing industry and the public. Certainly you understand that commenting on a case publicly, prior to the case being heard in a proper forum, can be detrimental to the outcome of the case. Unquestionably, it would be a disservice to jeopardize the integrity of theses cases.

“In order to obtain a just result, it is important to refrain from discussing details of cases prior to hearing. Only at the conclusion of all litigation would it be appropriate for a member of the OHRC to publicly comment about any case which has been adjudicated by the agency.”

Most racing states will file complaints and make them public when a split sample is returned confirming the presence of a prohibited drug. Some states will even name the horse, trainer, and prohibited drug before the split samples are confirmed.

I understand the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission’s reluctance to discuss circumstances or reveal details of their investigation.

However, if the regulatory agency has received split-sample confirmation of the presence of dermorphin in post-race samples, and the trainers involved in those positive tests are continuing to run horses at tracks in Oklahoma tracks and other states, then the fans who support this game at the pari-mutuel windows have the right to know who the alleged cheaters are.

To keep this most basic information sequestered does a disservice to the game.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jjandsamm Samm Graci

    You are absolutely right!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jjandsamm Samm Graci

    You are absolutely right!

  • http://twitter.com/BigSkyEquine SaratogaSid

    Hi Ray,
    Those frog-juicing trainers and veterinarians have relatives on the commission, you know, as well as in the legislature (a la Kentucky). As well, the commissioners are mostly former trainers, and well, they don’t think a little frog juice or amphetamine here and there is so bad. After all, those horses are getting all kinds of other drugs the day they race, all that Lasix and all those adjuncts hours and minutes before they head to the paddock to get all saddled up to race. 
    The trainers have been taught by the commission to dope horses, it seems. Quite frankly, they do not know how to stop doping. What with all the permitted drugs, it’s hard to tell what not to use. Simpler to just give them everything that might help kelp a win. Plus that frog juice is expensive. Those trainers probably don’t have much money left to pay fines, and they really do not know enough about the true nature of horses to train them without drugs so far they have drifted from sound horsemanship, thanks to the commission allowing them to use all those drugs in the first place, then turning their eyes away from all the other doping they all love so much to do. And about those Okie vets, they don’t know much other than how to dope a horse, and they need to make a living. And what about those poor pharmaceutical companies. The US economy could really go to into another nosedive if the flow of drugs through racehorses is stopped.
    To make a fuss about all the Okie horse doping is to draw negative attention to the game. Let’s just keep things quiet, okay?

    • racehorse lover

       Sid,
         Sounds like you have got this thing all figured out, so can you please help an uneducated person like myself by answering a few questions????

      “Those frog juicing trainers, and vets have relatives on commissions, as well as in the legislature..”
      How many frog juicing trainers, and vets, (that have been found not guilty) have relatives on commissions, what are their names, and which commission would they be on???

      “As well, the commission members are mostly former trainers.”
      Can you name three commission members from any one state, or on any one commission, that are former trainers??? 

      “After all, those horses are getting all kinds of other drugs on the day they race.”
      Name one drug that horses are receiving on race day outside of lasix, and one of two allowable adjunt bleeder medications???

      “Plus that frog juice is expensive.”
      How expensive is frog juice Sid????

      “To make a fuss about all the Okie horse doping is to draw negative attention to the game.”
      No Sid, it’s people like you that bring negative attention to the game..  Your clueless rant on something you obviously know nothing about is the problem with racing today.  People like you just love to focus on the 1% of the people in this industry that are attempting to cheat, and let the other 99% suffer for it.  Most owners, and trainers, not only love their horses, but love horse racing.  These two things are their passion, and they would never do anything illegal, to disrespect, or hurt either one. But of course that doesn’t draw attention, or sell newspapers does it????

      • Lou Baranello

        Racehorse Lover, your excellent cross examination completely destroyed him.  And that was most appropriate! 

      • Charlie Davis

        The old, “it’s only 1% that are cheating” argument.  If we clean up that 1% as you call it, then people like us won’t have to focus on it.  

        • Julian

           To follow up…..what has the 99% done to take down the 1%….seems like the 99% has done nothing but blah blah blah about the 1% for years and years and years…..that 1% must have some real clout….but I think that the 99% just don’t want to call out the 1%….must be professional courtesy?…..

      • Clovercreek

        I am an owner/trainer in Texas. Thank You racehorse lover YOU ARE RIGHT!!! I absolutly love my horses would NEVER dream of doping my animals. I also was raised by my racehorse trainer Father…WE DONT DOPE! WINNING ISNT WINNING WHEN IT’S CHEATING! I have also worked in medicine for 27 years and I knowthe effects of drugs!! I  suppose the reason there is such an issue with the “juice” and the timing it, i suspect…It does take some time to develope an absolute way to figure consistantly  how much is in a sample. But my issue is with the danger of this drug, the effects on the horse on this crap… If I were the jockys I would absolutly refuse to ride a horse ever for a trainer that was found positive for the “juice” and as an owner, I would scream to the heavens and charge them myself if possible!! The danger of one of these horses hurting themselves and THE HORSES AROUND THEM is EXTREMELY HIGH! I am sooooo sick of the greed everywhere not just in racing, that NOTHING matters, as long as you make a buck. I guess I was raised with ethics,morals and integrity… I just dont think that doping my horse with frog slime to win is worth it! I want to win because I picked or bred and conditioned and trained the BEST, I’m insulted , ashamed and angry with these skeevy jerks.Listen up all of you juicers…If you cant do it the right way, get another profession…PLease! I hope that the state yanks your license period ,now that it is proven positive.Leave me and my horses alone to run against other honest no doping owners and trainers!And by the way to all of you who are saying that well my Father couldnt have been any good…We lived in one of the nicest chicago supburbs,went to private school and had no IDEA about the real world until COLLEGE! so dont try that one either!

        • http://www.facebook.com/mariateresapradere María Teresa Pradére

          Excellent !!!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/deb.olivas Deb Curtis Olivas

      That is the stupidest, most uninformed, biased bunch of garbage I have read on here yet. 
      I believe that the trainers with bad tests should be dealt with swiftly, and in the case of class 1′s harshly, I also think there seems to be a problem with Oklahoma taking so long, but to make the ass u mptions you just made is  an insult to the honest and hard working horsemen in the industry.

  • http://twitter.com/BigSkyEquine SaratogaSid

    Hi Ray,
    Those frog-juicing trainers and veterinarians have relatives on the commission, you know, as well as in the legislature (a la Kentucky). As well, the commissioners are mostly former trainers, and well, they don’t think a little frog juice or amphetamine here and there is so bad. After all, those horses are getting all kinds of other drugs the day they race, all that Lasix and all those adjuncts hours and minutes before they head to the paddock to get all saddled up to race. 
    The trainers have been taught by the commission to dope horses, it seems. Quite frankly, they do not know how to stop doping. What with all the permitted drugs, it’s hard to tell what not to use. Simpler to just give them everything that might help kelp a win. Plus that frog juice is expensive. Those trainers probably don’t have much money left to pay fines, and they really do not know enough about the true nature of horses to train them without drugs so far they have drifted from sound horsemanship, thanks to the commission allowing them to use all those drugs in the first place, then turning their eyes away from all the other doping they all love so much to do. And about those Okie vets, they don’t know much other than how to dope a horse, and they need to make a living. And what about those poor pharmaceutical companies. The US economy could really go to into another nosedive if the flow of drugs through racehorses is stopped.
    To make a fuss about all the Okie horse doping is to draw negative attention to the game. Let’s just keep things quiet, okay?

  • August Song

    There’s nothing like being in charge, and having no one that your are responsible to. Power corrupts, absolutely!!!!! Indifference is tantamount to “aiding and abetting.”

    • http://judgebork.wordpress.com/ Lou Baranello

      August, I see them simply as “Incompetents With Impunity”.

  • August Song

    There’s nothing like being in charge, and having no one that your are responsible to. Power corrupts, absolutely!!!!! Indifference is tantamount to “aiding and abetting.”

  • racehorse lover

    Spoken like a true journalist Ray…. 
        What happened to innocent until proven guilty???  Did I not wake up in America this morning????  The Oklahoma Racing Commission is simply doing what every racing jurisdiction in the country SHOULD be doing.  Instead of commenting, and allowing the facts to be twisted by every news anchor, gyp journalist, and 2 cent racing fan (like this Saratoga Sid character) they chose to allow these people a split sample, and a fair hearing before commenting publicly..  Is that really wrong????
        Having said that…  I am personally of the opinion that anyone found guilty of doing such a thing, should receive the harshest penalty possible, if not a lifetime ban from racing… But I do believe they deserve their day in court first..

    • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

      I agree Racehorse.  The one thing I would take exception with in this whole thing though is the length of time it is taking.  These cases should have been set up for hearings as soon as the split samples were gotten back.  By dragging the process out you do allow these trainers to continue to train and potentially harm the horses in their care.  I also agree the penalties should be swift and severe if found guilty and the appeals process be very limited in both number and time to file one…

      • nu-fan

        Bryan:  I agree with you about the length of time this is taking.  The races were run in April and May, if I read the article correctly. This is September.  Does it take that long to run the tests and to make a determination on whether to file charges? Something doesn’t smell right.  Perhaps, the federal government should step in when states are not capable of doing their jobs.

      • L.Tanner

        How did the labs manage to find the substance right away in the original test but it goes on for months on a split? I would like to see somebody put in a Public Record request to Ok. Racing Comm. asking for any and all reports,documents,e-mails,etc. related to the splits on those original tests. I bet you the results are laying under somebody’s desk blotter. Like maybe in a stewards office????

    • RayPaulick

      I am not in favor of secret tribunals. That’s how biases (for and against), political pressures, and coverups occur. Once someone is charged with a complaint of this nature, that information should be made public. 

      I believe the public that wagers on our sport deserves to know if anyone is going to be charged with serious drug violations, and who they are.

      Just because someone is charged with a violation of racing medication rules does NOT make them guilty, just as anyone who is charged with a crime in our judicial is considered innocent until proven guilty. But these are public matters once investigations are complete and hearings are scheduled. 

      All I am suggesting is that if the OHRC is going to conduct hearings on the alleged violators, the public should be notified as soon as possible.

    • Lost In The Fog

      Apparently you didn’t wake up in America this morning.  At least not if you believe that legal proceedings like this should be conducted behind a wall of secrecy.  

      It’s time to brush up on constitutional law, the public’s right to know and precisely why that is one of the foremost protections afforded to anyone accused of a crime – the fact that one cannot be tried by the government in the absence of public scrutiny of the proceedings.  

    • Sevencentsstable

      I generally find myself applauding your posts, but not in this case. While I agree that everyone should have their right to due process, this particular process is taking too long. Even one of the most backwards, backdoor dealing, good-old-boy states in the country (New Mexico) has publicly called out the demorphin trainers. 1 of which has, according to the racetrack rumor mill, at least 1 of the OK positives as well. New Mexico’s positives were found after OK’s and they seem to be ahead of OK on getting something done.

  • racehorse lover

    Spoken like a true journalist Ray…. 
        What happened to innocent until proven guilty???  Did I not wake up in America this morning????  The Oklahoma Racing Commission is simply doing what every racing jurisdiction in the country SHOULD be doing.  Instead of commenting, and allowing the facts to be twisted by every news anchor, gyp journalist, and 2 cent racing fan (like this Saratoga Sid character) they chose to allow these people a split sample, and a fair hearing before commenting publicly..  Is that really wrong????
        Having said that…  I am personally of the opinion that anyone found guilty of doing such a thing, should receive the harshest penalty possible, if not a lifetime ban from racing… 

  • Tres Abagados Stupidos

    I cannot reveal any sources on this but I have heard through a reputable source involved in Oklahoma racing that their is a HUGE technicality with the samples that will probably cause all of the tests to be voided.  I am not trying to start any controversy or get “rumors” going but that is the information I was told.  I even mentioned this same thing in an earlier post to another article Ray posted.

    In my opinion something has to be amiss with the Oklahoma situation or there would be more information coming out from the Ok. Racing Commission. 

    • Sevencentsstable

      Seems to be the prevailing sentiment from the trackers, too.

    • L.Tanner

      I wonder if the Public Record request I mentioned above could include some wording to havae that included as well?

  • Tres Abagados Stupidos

    I cannot reveal any sources on this but I have heard through a reputable source involved in Oklahoma racing that their is a HUGE technicality with the samples that will probably cause all of the tests to be voided.  I am not trying to start any controversy or get “rumors” going but that is the information I was told.  I even mentioned this same thing in an earlier post to another article Ray posted.

    In my opinion something has to be amiss with the Oklahoma situation or there would be more information coming out from the Ok. Racing Commission. 

  • racehorse lover

     Sid,
       Sounds like you have got this thing all figured out, so can you please help an uneducated person like myself by answering a few questions????

    “Those frog juicing trainers, and vets have relatives on commissions, as well as in the legislature..”
    How many frog juicing trainers, and vets, (that have been found not guilty) have relatives on commissions, what are their names, and which commission would they be on???

    “As well, the commission members are mostly former trainers.”
    Can you name three commission members from any one state, or on any one commission, that are former trainers??? 

    “After all, those horses are getting all kinds of other drugs on the day they race.”
    Name one drug that horses are receiving on race day outside of lasix, and one of two allowable adjunt bleeder medications???

    “Plus that frog juice is expensive.”
    How expensive is frog juice Sid????

    “To make a fuss about all the Okie horse doping is to draw negative attention to the game.”
    No Sid, it’s people like you that bring negative attention to the game..  Your clueless rant on something you obviously know nothing about is the problem with racing today.  People like you just love to focus on the 1% of the people in this industry that are attempting to cheat, and let the other 99% suffer for it.  Most owners, and trainers, not only love their horses, but love horse racing.  These two things are their passion, and they would never do anything illegal, to disrespect, or hurt either one. But of course that doesn’t draw attention, or sell newspapers does it????

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    I agree Racehorse.  The one thing I would take exception with in this whole thing though is the length of time it is taking.  These cases should have been set up for hearings as soon as the split samples were gotten back.  By dragging the process out you do allow these trainers to continue to train and potentially harm the horses in their care.  I also agree the penalties should be swift and severe if found guilty and the appeals process be very limited in both number and time to file one…

  • RayPaulick

    I am not in favor of secret tribunals. That’s how biases (for and against), political pressures, and coverups occur. Once someone is charged with a complaint of this nature, that information should be made public. 

    I believe the public that wagers on our sport deserves to know if anyone is going to be charged with serious drug violations, and who they are.

    Just because someone is charged with a violation of racing medication rules does NOT make them guilty, just as anyone who is charged with a crime in our judicial is considered innocent until proven guilty. But these are public matters once investigations are complete and hearings are scheduled. 

    All I am suggesting is that if the OHRC is going to conduct hearings on the alleged violators, the public should be notified as soon as possible.

  • Sean Kerr

    Thanks Ray – actually it would be interesting to know if the state’s attorney general is monitoring this situation. The public has a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest i.e., relationships between the accused and any stewards or commission officers. The silence is another indictment on American horse racing in general – almost no transparency.

  • Sean Kerr

    Thanks Ray – actually it would be interesting to know if the state’s attorney general is monitoring this situation. The public has a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest i.e., relationships between the accused and any stewards or commission officers. The silence is another indictment on American horse racing in general – almost no transparency.

  • Lou Baranello

    Racehorse Lover, your excellent cross examination completely destroyed him.  And that was most appropriate! 

  • http://judgebork.wordpress.com/ Lou Baranello

    August, I see them simply as “Incompetents With Impunity”.

  • Charlie Davis

    The old, “it’s only 1% that are cheating” argument.  If we clean up that 1% as you call it, then people like us won’t have to focus on it.  

  • Clovercreek

    I am an owner/trainer in Texas. Thank You racehorse lover YOU ARE RIGHT!!! I absolutly love my horses would NEVER dream of doping my animals. I also was raised by my racehorse trainer Father…WE DONT DOPE! WINNING ISNT WINNING WHEN IT’S CHEATING! I have also worked in medicine for 27 years and I knowthe effects of drugs!! I  suppose the reason there is such an issue with the “juice” and the timing it, i suspect…It does take some time to develope an absolute way to figure consistantly  how much is in a sample. But my issue is with the danger of this drug, the effects on the horse on this crap… If I were the jockys I would absolutly refuse to ride a horse ever for a trainer that was found positive for the “juice” and as an owner, I would scream to the heavens and charge them myself if possible!! The danger of one of these horses hurting themselves and THE HORSES AROUND THEM is EXTREMELY HIGH! I am sooooo sick of the greed everywhere not just in racing, that NOTHING matters, as long as you make a buck. I guess I was raised with ethics,morals and integrity… I just dont think that doping my horse with frog slime to win is worth it! I want to win because I picked or bred and conditioned and trained the BEST, I’m insulted , ashamed and angry with these skeevy jerks.Listen up all of you juicers…If you cant do it the right way, get another profession…PLease! I hope that the state yanks your license period ,now that it is proven positive.Leave me and my horses alone to run against other honest no doping owners and trainers!And by the way to all of you who are saying that well my Father couldnt have been any good…We lived in one of the nicest chicago supburbs,went to private school and had no IDEA about the real world until COLLEGE! so dont try that one either!

  • nu-fan

    Bryan:  I agree with you about the length of time this is taking.  The races were run in April and May, if I read the article correctly. This is September.  Does it take that long to run the tests and to make a determination on whether to file charges? Something doesn’t smell right.  Perhaps, the federal government should step in when states are not capable of doing their jobs.

  • Lost In The Fog

    Apparently you didn’t wake up in America this morning.  At least not if you believe that legal proceedings like this should be conducted behind a wall of secrecy.  

    It’s time to brush up on constitutional law, the public’s right to know and precisely why that is one of the foremost protections afforded to anyone accused of a crime – the fact that one cannot be tried by the government in the absence of public scrutiny of the proceedings.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/mariateresapradere María Teresa Pradére

    Excellent !!!!!!

  • Sevencentsstable

    I generally find myself applauding your posts, but not in this case. While I agree that everyone should have their right to due process, this particular process is taking too long. Even one of the most backwards, backdoor dealing, good-old-boy states in the country (New Mexico) has publicly called out the demorphin trainers. 1 of which has, according to the racetrack rumor mill, at least 1 of the OK positives as well. New Mexico’s positives were found after OK’s and they seem to be ahead of OK on getting something done.

  • Tinky

    Bidness as usual. 

    American racetrack executives have long suffered from the delusion that it is in their interest to obscure or hide embarrassing test results. 

    Note that the most impressive wagering numbers in the world emanate from Hong Kong, and, while it is not the only reason, they happen to have the cleanest and most transparent racing in the world.

  • Tinky

    Bidness as usual. 

    American racetrack executives have long suffered from the delusion that it is in their interest to obscure or hide embarrassing test results. 

    Note that the most impressive wagering numbers in the world emanate from Hong Kong, and, while it is not the only reason, they happen to have the cleanest and most transparent racing in the world.

  • Sevencentsstable

    Seems to be the prevailing sentiment from the trackers, too.

  • Julian

     To follow up…..what has the 99% done to take down the 1%….seems like the 99% has done nothing but blah blah blah about the 1% for years and years and years…..that 1% must have some real clout….but I think that the 99% just don’t want to call out the 1%….must be professional courtesy?…..

  • SteveG

    A transparent process has the distinct advantage of forestalling the suspicion & speculation which typically accompanies an opaque process.

    A transparent process increases customer confidence while an opaque process erodes customer confidence.

    In businesses predicated on betting, the perception (factual or otherwise) that any step in the wagering process may be corrupt, inevitably leads to loss of bettor (customer) confidence.

    Loss of bettor confidence leads to lost handle (revenue)

    Tinky’s point about Hong Kong is well made as their standard of transparency was established as a result of bettor flight caused by suspicion the racing was corrupt.

  • SteveG

    A transparent process has the distinct advantage of forestalling the suspicion & speculation which typically accompanies an opaque process.

    A transparent process increases customer confidence while an opaque process erodes customer confidence.

    In businesses predicated on betting, the perception (factual or otherwise) that any step in the wagering process may be corrupt, inevitably leads to loss of bettor (customer) confidence.

    Loss of bettor confidence leads to lost handle (revenue)

    Tinky’s point about Hong Kong is well made as their standard of transparency was established as a result of bettor flight caused by suspicion the racing was corrupt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deb.olivas Deb Curtis Olivas

    That is the stupidest, most uninformed, biased bunch of garbage I have read on here yet. 
    I believe that the trainers with bad tests should be dealt with swiftly, and in the case of class 1′s harshly, I also think there seems to be a problem with Oklahoma taking so long, but to make the ass u mptions you just made is  an insult to the honest and hard working horsemen in the industry.

  • Eachai

    Would requesting info through Oklahoma’s right to know law? (state equivalent to Fed’s FOIA request). Good reporting. keep following.

    • L.Tanner

      OOps, sorry, I just saw this and I had the same idea and posted it. But I think that’s the way to go at this point. Good idea Eachai. I cannot tell you the interesting thing we found when there was a Public Record request issued to the Racing Comm. here in Az a few years ago. Seems as tho they weren’t actually testing very many horses!!!

  • Eachai

    Would requesting info through Oklahoma’s right to know law? (state equivalent to Fed’s FOIA request). Good reporting. keep following.

  • L.Tanner

    How did the labs manage to find the substance right away in the original test but it goes on for months on a split? I would like to see somebody put in a Public Record request to Ok. Racing Comm. asking for any and all reports,documents,e-mails,etc. related to the splits on those original tests. I bet you the results are laying under somebody’s desk blotter. Like maybe in a stewards office????

  • L.Tanner

    I wonder if the Public Record request I mentioned above could include some wording to havae that included as well?

  • L.Tanner

    OOps, sorry, I just saw this and I had the same idea and posted it. But I think that’s the way to go at this point. Good idea Eachai. I cannot tell you the interesting thing we found when there was a Public Record request issued to the Racing Comm. here in Az a few years ago. Seems as tho they weren’t actually testing very many horses!!!

  • trainer

    I train horse in louisiana and texas all i have to say is a lot of trainers were using frog juice because i was working my ass off trying get my horse in the winner circle my horses were 3rd 4th and 5th but when they caught those bad test i had no trouble getting to winner circle

  • trainer

    I train horse in louisiana and texas all i have to say is a lot of trainers were using frog juice because i was working my ass off trying get my horse in the winner circle my horses were 3rd 4th and 5th but when they caught those bad test i had no trouble getting to winner circle

  • prathith

    excellent

  • prathith

    excellent

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