West Virginia Cracks Down on ‘Program’ Trainers
Douglas Shanyfelt, currently the leading trainer at Mountaineer Park, has been suspended for one year by West Virginia Racing Commission stewards at Charles Town for his alleged role as a “program” trainer for Scooter Davis while Davis was serving a six-month suspension for multiple clenbuterol violations.
After a March 19 hearing, the same stewards also upheld their earlier denial of reinstatement of Scooter Davis's permit, or trainer's license. In addition, they handed out 45-day suspensions to Scooter Davis's father, Billy Ray Davis, and to assistant trainer Cliff Tuomisto.
The suspensions of Billy Ray Davis and Tuomisto run from March 25-May 8. The owner-trainer license of Shanyfelt has been suspended from March 25, 2013-March 24, 2014. The suspended licensees have 20 days to appeal the rulings.
Last month, Penn National Gaming, the owner of Hollywood Casino and Charles Town Races, exercised its private property rights to exclude Shanyfelt and Scooter Davis from the premises and turned over evidence supporting their decision to the racing commission stewards. Shanyfelt continued to race at Mountaineer Park, where he racked up 14 wins in 51 starts since the Chester, W.Va.., track's meeting began March 1.
According to sources, Penn National staff provided videotape allegedly showing Scooter Davis, while still on suspension, bringing horses by van to a stable on private property located just to the north of Charles Town racetrack on East Fifth Avenue. Those horses were then allegedly led over to start in the name of Shanyfelt and others.
Stewards ruled the conduct by Shanyfelt, Billy Ray Davis, and Tuomisto violated the sections of West Virginia racing rules that state “a permit holder shall report to the Racing Commission or the stewards any knowledge he or she has that a violation of the Commission's rules has occurred or may occur…has engaged in any fraud or misrepresentation in connection with racing or breeding” and “has allowed another to use his or her occupational permit or other racing credential for the purpose of transferring any of the benefits pertaining to the permit or credential.”
A “program” trainer is a licensee who allows his or her name to be used as the trainer of record for a horse that is actually in someone else's care, especially when the latter individual is on a suspension or unable to obtain a license.
In upholding their decision to deny reinstatement of Scooter Davis's permit, stewards said he violated the racing rule stating “each trainer is responsible for notifying horse owners upon the revocation or suspension of his or her trainer's permit. Upon application by the owner, the stewards may approve the transfer of the owner's horses to the care of another trainer holding an occupational permit, and upon an approved transfer, the horses may be entered to race. Upon transfer of the horse(s), the inactive trainer shall not be involved in any arrangements related to the care, custody or control of the horse(s), and shall not benefit financially or in any way from the training of the horse(s).”
Scooter Davis was suspended by stewards from Aug. 26, 2012-Feb. 21, 2013. The alleged surveillance of horse transfers from Davis to Shanyfelt and others is believed to have occurred near the end of his suspension.