Combating A Culture Of Cheating: Betting On A New Paradigm

by | 01.19.2017 | 7:57am

(Second of a two-part series. Click here to read part one.)

In U.S. racing, each state has the sole authority to regulate all racing within its borders. There is no central, unifying authority. This has led to state-to-state differences in medication rules, drug testing procedures and penalties for violations.

These differences often can be stark. In states without third-party administration of the anti-bleeding medication Salix (furosemide) or credible out-of-competition testing, cheaters can prosper with impunity. Race day drugging can be rampant. Blood doping unchecked.

Despite the opportunity for widespread cheating, it would be unfair to apply these activities broadly and equally to the racing programs in every state. Some commissions are proactive and have implemented well-designed deterrents as part of their anti-doping programs.

As disturbing as it is, the greatest threat to racing's integrity does not lie in the widespread cheating that occurs in those states that have chosen to turn a blind eye to these corrupting influences.

It is the trainers' ability to cheat in even the most conscientiously regulated states that is a greater threat. That's because in these states, where many of the Graded stakes are contested, horsemen still have an opportunity to cheat despite the best efforts of regulators.

The main impediment to addressing this issue is the current patchwork system of regulation. The system has failed to provide the protection and tools to the most diligent and proactive racing commissions.

Understanding these threats requires a better understanding of the limitations facing drug testing laboratories.


Lab limitations
Every drug has a unique structure analogous to a fingerprint.

To call a positive test, the specific drug must reside in a laboratory's mass spectral library. A drug not in the library cannot be called positive unless a method is developed to test and validate its presence.

Each of the 14 laboratories conducting drug testing in the U.S. have access to comparable libraries that contain over 1,400 compounds.

Confronted with a drug outside its library, the laboratory may be blind to its existence. Due to its molecular structure, an unknown drug might evade the lab's extraction process and never make it to the instrument for analysis. Even if extracted, it is possible to completely evade the notice of laboratory personnel.

Although labs are continually adding drugs to their libraries, cheaters using unique or newly created drugs pose significant challenges.

To catch one of these cheaters, a laboratory must first know what drug is being administered. This is no small feat considering the conspiratorial nature of the act of doping and the code of silence that permeates the racetrack.

The lab must then obtain a sample of the drug. This may be another high hurdle due to the exacting protocols imposed on the laboratory. Unlike a cheater who may be handed a loaded syringe by his local veterinarian, the laboratory is obligated to secure a certificate of analysis with its drug sample. Sometimes, procuring the drug sample is the most challenging aspect of detecting a new drug.

Once the drug is obtained, a method to detect and validate it must be developed.

The development of detection methods for some drugs can be extremely difficult. For example, after human drug testing research made detecting EPO possible in human athletes, over six years passed before this drug was detectable in horses.

Petra Hartmann has been at the epicenter of the highest profile U.S. doping scandal in recent memory. As the director of Drug Testing Services at Industrial Laboratories in Denver, Colo,, she presided over the development of the testing methodology for dermorphin, often referred to as “frog juice.”

Petra Hartmann of Industrial Laboratories

Petra Hartmann of Industrial Laboratories

The result of Hartmann's efforts were dozens of positive dermorphin findings in four states.

That the bloodstream of a racehorse as it crosses the finish line could contain the psycho-active secretion of a South American tree frog underscores the lengths some will go to cheat.

Where does a veterinarian or horseman go to find performance-enhancing drugs?

“If there are sufficient funds, I suppose they would go the route of Lance Armstrong,” said Hartmann. “They would have a team of experts working on it. For the doper of more moderate means, I would imagine that they would look and see what is being passed around in the human drug-user world and try to obtain that.”

Access has never been easier.

“If they're looking for something illicit, they are just another consumer on the internet,” said Hartmann. “The entire world is at their disposal. All you need is a keyboard, credit card and the willingness to take a potentially significant health risk to an animal.”

AB Sciex 4500 mass spectrometer

AB Sciex 4500 mass spectrometer

The cat-and-mouse relationship between laboratories and cheaters has always existed. Despite the advances in technologies that have aided laboratories over the past few decades, the mouse has far outpaced the cat.

What has not changed in the racing industry is the relationship between state racing commissions and testing laboratories.

Most commissions, due to their nature of being agencies of state government, must focus on efficiency and not excellence. Cost is the primary factor. All too often, contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder – regardless of the caliber of services to be provided. This approach not only affects the lab's capabilities of detecting the drugs in its library, but it stifles the type of research needed to keep pace with new and exotic drugs.

“The system is not set up for us to do top-level work (research) on a day-to-day basis,” said Hartmann.

Many regulators have become overly reliant on testing laboratories and have sidestepped their own responsibilities to protect the integrity of the sport.

“I do believe that too many jurisdictions take the easy way out,” said Hartmann. “There is more that can be done from a regulatory standpoint to get bad apples out of the game, rather than take the passive approach and wait for the laboratory to deliver the evidence you need to get rid of someone.”


“Drug testing is super important,” said Jeff Novitzky, formerly a federal agent for the IRS Criminal Investigations Division and the Food and Drug Administration. Novitzky now oversees Athlete Health and Performance for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world's largest mixed-martial arts fight promoter. “You can't have an effective anti-doping program without it. However, it seems like the drug testing side of things is always a little bit behind the technology. So, the (investigative element) helps level the playing field.”

Novitzky's record – his investigations led to the downfall from doping of some of the biggest names in track & field, cycling and professional sports – is proof for the need of a strong investigative component in racing. Of the nearly 200 successful prosecutions of cheating throughout his career, Novitzky said, “We would not have identified at least 95 percent of those without the investigative resources we had.” In other words, less than five percent of his cases involved a positive test.

In most all of the 200 cases, Novitzky worked closely with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Jeff Novitzky led investigations that toppled numerous cheating sports stars

Jeff Novitzky led investigations that toppled numerous cheating sports stars

In USADA's world of human athletics, the term “adverse analytical finding” is what is called a “positive test” in the horse racing industry.

Another term used in human athletics is “non-analytical finding.” It means a violation derived from evidence-based intelligence: an investigation. Evidence varies from case to case, but the standard elements include developed sources, witnesses, records, surveillance and physical evidence.

Per reports of anti-doping sanctions in 2016 on the USADA website, almost 25 percent (10 of 42) of the most serious violations (which involve a suspension of a year or more) were for violations other than a positive test.

Examples include: (1) three athletes in the sport of track & field who were suspended for four years after the results of investigations concluded they used and possessed prohibited growth hormones; (2) a cyclist and a weightlifter who were suspended for four years for refusing the provide a urine sample to doping control officers; and (3) a multiple offending cyclist who received a lifetime ban for being involved in running a website through which he marketed and distributed prohibited and illegal substances to fellow athletes.

State racing commissions occasionally have similar such sanctions.

In 2016, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission revoked the license of Otabek Umarov for 10 years after he refused out-of-competition sampling on a gelding named Looks to Spare. A $5,000 claim at Hawthorne in April 2015, Umarov stepped the gelding up to win the $200,000 West Virginia Governor's Stakes at odds of 74-1. Looks to Spare later finished third in the Grade I Clark Handicap at the 2015 Churchill Downs fall meet.

In 2015, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission suspended the license of veterinarian Ross Russell for nine years. The case involved no positive test. Rather, it was the result of a commission investigation that found (and Dr. Russell acknowledged) several rule violations including providing injectables to a trainer, unauthorized race day administration, numerous record keeping violations, and failure to cooperate with an investigation.

When these stories broke, the reporting focused on the seriousness of the infractions and the severity of the sanctions. More noteworthy, however, is how infrequent these types of cases are pursued at all.

The responsibility to deter and detect such violations lies with state racing commissions. Most states have security personnel or investigators to carry out this duty. Most of these individuals are competent and dedicated. They work in a system, however, that does not support the aggressive pursuit of cheaters.

Financial resources are an issue. More debilitating is a general mindset among many industry stakeholders that the bad publicity that inevitably accompanies the exposure of cheating should be avoided, if possible. Add to the mix state racing commissions that lack independence and the result is often a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” approach to cheating.

Simply stated, few within the racing industry have the will or incentive to shine a spotlight into the darker corners of the sport.

USADA takes a highly principled and integrity-based approach to regulating.

USADA takes a highly principled and integrity-based approach to regulating

Pending federal legislation that would authorize USADA to manage all aspects of horse racing's drug and medication program includes investigating violations of all anti-doping regulations. USADA's approach to regulation is highly principled and integrity based. Its independence assures an even-handed, show-no-favorites application to investigations and sanctions.

“I've been involved with them (USADA) through every important investigation, case and decision they've made over the past 15 years. In every single instance, I can't think of one where they didn't make the right decision – both ethically and in terms of the end result,” said Novitzky. “I speak from a lot of experience – 15 years of some of the biggest cases in anti-doping.”

An ideal approach, at least for the most important investigations, would be for USADA to utilize its expertise and time-tested strategies and combine them with the hard-to-gain knowledge of a state commission's boots-on-the-ground investigators.

In this scenario, vigorous pursuit of cheaters would become the norm – not the exception.


Trust revisited
Over time, as trust levels increase, people would reassess their behavior. This reassessment, or soul searching, would manifest itself in three ways.

First, people would be more willing to step forward to share information about known or suspected rule violations.

Second, for those most inclined to cheat, the dynamics of the decision-making process will have been altered. The greater the likelihood of being caught means greater risk. This would lead to fewer people attempting to cheat.

Last, and most important, is the effect on those who are not inclined to break rules but have done so because they believed it was necessary to level the playing field. As the playing field levels, this justification disappears.

Collectively, the impact of these behavioral changes on the culture of cheating would be profound.


A new paradigm?
It has been the weaknesses in the current patchwork system of regulation that has led to the introduction of federal legislation mandating a national anti-doping program under the auspices of USADA.

In response, the Association of Racing Commissioners International, along with some industry stakeholder groups, have tried to find a reform mechanism without federal legislation. Compacts between states, which would require legislation on a state-by-state basis, is an alternative favored by some in the industry.

The crux of the situation is straightforward: A federal bill is the only route to mandate compliance. A series of state compacts, without federal legislation, cannot mandate compliance because there would be no consequence for noncompliance. In other words, it would be another program with no teeth.


The wager
The term “past performance record” has resided in the lexicon of horseplayers for over a century. Horse racing owns the term. It is the study of these records that has fueled the growth of the sport.

Past performance records can be applied to more than just horses. Companies, associations and people also have such records. Past performance is predictive of future results.

The current regulatory structure has brought us the status quo.

On the other hand, USADA is world renowned for promoting clean athletic competition. Independent and fair, but tough, USADA has a record of establishing a sound regulatory infrastructure and is dedicated to pursuing individuals involved in corrupt practices.

It's a match race.

Who are you going to bet on?

Joe Gorajec served as executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for 25 years (1990-2015). He is also a former chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (2008).

  • Racing Fan

    The path to clean horse racing is simple but the HBPA will never support it:
    1. Limit drugs vets carry on backside to the 26 approved medications.
    2. Out of competition testing for blood boosting agents.
    3. When a trainer is caught with a class 1 or drug, call the FBI.
    4. Lock up trainers caught to be blood doping their horses.

    The only reason horse racing still exists is because of slot machines. They have propped up a sport which is riddled with cheats. Exhibit A: Parx racetrack

    • Shannon

      Your solution, “1. Limit drugs vets carry on backside to the 26 approved medications.” Use limited to only 26 medications would cause Death and Harm to horses. Here is why. Not included in this list are any vaccines (Flu, Rhino,Tetanus, Potomac Horse Fever, Equine Encephalitis, Botulism, Rabies, Strangles, etc.), No Antibiotics what so ever, a numbers of tranquilizers needed at times to sedate horses for some dental procedures, sedation for shoeing a difficult horse, no deworming medications to prevent parasites, No surgical scrubs such as Nolvasan or Betadine, No anesthetics to preform an elective or possible life surgical saving procedures.

      • Racing Fan

        That is simply not true.

        • Doc B.

          Actually what Shannon posted above is true. the list of approved (26) medications DOESN’T Include thousands of things that are used to prevent disease and maintain health in horses such as Vaccines, Antibiotics, Anti parasitic medications, Surgical Scrubs, Adequan, Common liniments like Rubbing Alcohol & Asorbine, Vitamins, Minerals, Sedatives for coming horses to shoe or float teeth, Anesthetics for surgical procedures, etc.

          The next time you see a doctor, are you going to say Doc I can be treated with this list of 26 things, if that doesn’t fix me, so be it?

        • Doc Malin

          The 26 medication list is just a list of guidelines for using these products. The science used to develop the thresholds and withdraw times of the 26 therapeutic medications are regularly coming in to question because the Racing Medication Testing Consortium (RMTC) won’t release the data on their research that developed theses thresholds and withdraw times.

          Limiting horses to only the 26 approved products would certainly not be in the horses best interest, these limitations would cause many horses deaths.
          Nothing prevents use of something not in the list of 26 therapeutic medications as long as the medication is not in the horse at the time of the race,

    • Shannon

      As far as ” 2. Out of competition testing for blood boosting agents.” In full agreement. Regulators hang Trainers for Pico Gram levels, that’s trillionths of a tiny gram of residual medications, that often have no affect on outcome as far as performance, but easy to make the regulator look like they are doing something. However as far as Blood Doping agents like EPO, regulators make little or no effort.

    • Shannon

      With reference to, “3. When a trainer is caught with a class 1 or drug, call the FBI.” The FBI & Obama Justice Department could NOT find tens of thousands of Presidential Candidate Hillary Rhodram Clinton’s emails.

      • Sherri

        The Federal Government doesn’t do a lot of things other than the military well, and never does anything cost effective.

    • Bill Casner

      Add one more to your list.
      5. Install video surveillance in every barn where horses and procedures can be monitored and recorded. Only 2 racetracks have this–Santa Anita and Ky. Downs–and both are recent installations.
      Video surveillance is the cornerstone of todays crime investigation and a strong deterrent.

  • Good overview Joe. The lack of will to conduct investigations is shameful. As far as I can tell, there are no serious active investigations in the major racing venues. The only way it is going to change is for horsemen to join the fight in earnest. Too many of them have taken an approach that the damning of one bad apple taints them all, so they remain passive. This is total b. s. Too many innocent trainers are being tainted right now. The only way to turn the tide is for as many people as possible to stop glorifying cheats and to start pressuring them to stop or help the authorities to nail the crooks. Anybody that doesn’t think this will sound the death knell for top-class racing in America is fooling themselves.

    • mikec

      Who are the “cheats being glorified” What’s their names? You imply you are in the know. What evidence do you have?

      • Will Styles

        MikeC, Stop waisting your time with Barry. He only knows you if your losing money with his partnerships. He has to make some excuse to those who invested and lost money in his syndicate. Kind of like when he bought one of his own syndicate horses at auction Animal Kingdom for a 100k with his own money. Then he told the syndicate “if you want back in you can pay me what I have into the horse” ( interview published on Throughbred Times). Very few bough get back in. As Animal Kingdom won the derby you can only imagine how those investors felt that he bought one of their own horses out of the sale that’s one the derby. Don’t waist your time Mike.

        • ben

          Keep it to the case:

          Combating A Culture Of Cheating: Betting On A New Paradigm.

          Do not start pointing to things that have not one thing in common.

          • Will Styles

            My post has something to do with it. We have Barry constantly attacking our sport saying it’s riddled with drugs and all these changes need to be made. Those comments leave the perception we are all cheats. So I’m bringing to the attention that his out fit isn’t perfect either. He’s lost a lot of money for his investors. What’s wrong with that?

          • ben

            I sold some stock last yr Shell, and now they are on the uprise with 40%. Can I sue Shell: no way.

            There is no cheater who is having a button on his chest, with the words Iam a cheater. If racing does not work together, to ban cheaters, Racing will be seen by the public as cheating as a whole.

          • Will Styles

            I hate to break it to you. They already do drug testing in our sport. And yes they catch cheaters with it and punish them. As for your sue Shell comment. I’m not talking about suing anyone. I’m just stating a fact that Barry’s investors lose money and he needs to put more focus on that. Then making new rules he feels are needed.

          • Sherri

            Ben is running true to form, Nothing but Blather as usual.

          • ben

            I leave it up Barry to tell his side of the coin.

            About the article: plain and simple, the industry lacks the will for change. The last thing is not something new.

          • Sherri

            Barry is good at playing the game with other peoples money.

          • togahombre

            thats one of the very few ways to make money racing

          • Sherri

            Blathering Ben, Blathering again. At least you are consistent.

        • David Sullivan

          Oh no! You mean there are people involved in race horse ownership who have lost money? I had no idea.

  • Elliott ness

    A question, how would anyone on this site that post comments, please tell me, after reading part two of this article, how would you set about to cheat, now knowing where the weak spots exist in the system ? To me it seems as if it would be hard as titanium. The anabolic steroid deal is not cheating, withdrawl protocol in place. This writer suggest Google search box, type in , horse pain killer, horse blood builder, horse meth, no chance. The famous vet in Kentucky Alex H. , he was buddies with human physicians, access to whatever. Was the chemist that developed frog juice, identified and prosecuted? Not sure if there exists ,trainers / chemist. Cheating does not exist to the level that the author suggests. Only at the top of the game would it be affordable to clandestinly hire a chemist to formulate nefarious drugs. Type in Google search box, chemist needed for illegal equine drug development. Fluent in Chinese? You may get a hit.

    • There’s a learning curve, obviously. Like any drug, there are pushers. You open your mind to explore the possibilities, not simply rely on google.

    • Condor

      Aside from the labs churning out new designer drugs which i believe is nonsense you can gain lengths with alot of little things, some legal at allowable levels and detection times and some barbaric ie micro dosing epo, steriods, bicarb, lasix, pain meds, cobalt, shockwave, electric jiggers etc. Add them all up and your winning but your also killing the game and turning the public against racing.You would be morally wrong too.If i was a cheat and had tons of money i would be looking into blood transfusions and genetic modifying not back street labs. Biological passports would be the way to go but thats not going to happen. Enforcing bans, stopping beards and long stays of appeals would have cleaned up racing years ago but the tracks need for horses to fill races has always come first.

      • When EPO goes untested or uninvestigated, why use anything else?

        • Condor

          Although barry somewhere on the internet i have read a vets instructions to a trainer on how to use epo and what to monitor for and he said it didnt work on all horses. I still think one set of rules for all states, tougher enforcement and a reduction in some allowable drug levels would be a good starting point

        • JC

          Hey Barry, what is the current status of the USADA bill? I haven’t heard anything about the bill recently. Thanks.

          • Being retooled for another go around in 2017. In the meantime several additional legislators have become supporters, which will help when the time comes for the final major push.

          • JC

            Thanks for the reply. I was undecided on the bill. Recently I changed my mind hearing you and others supporting it. I’m praying this bill passes someday. Best of luck.

      • billy

        The tracks need for horses to fill races has always come first you are absolutely correct but I don’t believe that’s ever going to change tracks are there to make money that is there number 1 if not only goal what people involved fail to realize is that they all have the power to overrun the track the track needs competitors if only people would band together where are all the “good” people in pa why do they put up with what goes on there if the majority play by the rules this issue runs far deeper then drug usage I do believe hair testing could stop some issues on this matter also just not 100 percent sure on that just opinion

        • Condor

          I have heard of some hair and saliva samples being taken but must have been a trail or something. Tide needs to turn on cheats, theres still the old wink ive got the new magic between trainers even if they havent used anything. Alot of the magic bought on the internet doesnt test because its coloured water or amino acids at best .

          • billy

            Damn right tide needs to turn on cheats and it goes way beyond the drug issue check out what happened when the owner of los al wanted to do hair testing total revolt last thing most trainers want and I know the tracks sure don’t want it either is change there all afraid of it people are happy makin money racing horses just the way it is change would cost people money bad for buissness for them less profit sadly very few make it for and about the horse

      • Condor

        + i have heard of some trainers spending over half a million on very high speed treadmills and turning a few stables into high altitude tents !!!

    • gus stewart

      I agree with you, this type of advantage can only be afforded by a few owners. But as minimal as that may be, it has a trickle dowm effect. Also they dont hire a chemist, they hire the right vet thats willing to work with the chemist. The trickle down problem comes when a gambler continues to get best in a exoctic wager pk 3, or 4, or 5 and stops betting those wagers or cuts back on betting those wagers. Then as owners, running second and third except in maiden races will never pay the bills. If you dont win your going to not get a picture taken to put up in home ot office and your not going to keep up and why would you, in paying for your horse. Eventually you walk as we did. One thing that myst be done but is doubful is the others owners myst go to chrb or other state tracks hierarchies and demand a change in policies with private vets. Of course as i have mentioned rebranding and marketing if racing would be next. Butbyou have to stop the medication problems first, this will allow perceptions of sport to change. Marketing and none use iof the whip woukd be next on my agenda

      • I agree. We cannot market our sport until it is purged of as many cheaters as possible.

    • Racing Fan

      Lol. Are you insane? Parx gives away a quarter million A DAY. You are lost.

      • billy

        Yea exactly one should look up the money around at the “small” tracks the racinos look at what most of those people are making

      • Elliott ness

        The insanity lies in the historic despair of horse lovers that feel their written word can ever change the climate of racing in the states. I have been commenting on this site for years, the only event that somewhat opened the eyes of the general public was the peta video, it was bold , took thought, and peta is not financed by the racing insiders that want it all from top to bottom, to remain status quo. It will never change, the drug culture on the backside , that is. Big change always occurs from chaos, and this is exactly what the racing insiders don’t want. They are all getting paid. Keep fighting the good fight, but history predicts status quo.

        • billy

          You make a great point hopefully evolution prevails history like it has in every other sport look up group b rally and what happened to that and why it is possible I don’t believe the vast majority of the public are aware or even care what goes on for that matter

  • Craig

    I can show you weekly of a horse like the one decscribed above about Hawthorne’s example, this is great journalism and gives us facts about how drugs are ruining the playing field. How can I honestly bet on a horse not knowing what the horse is on or is not on. The trainer has a huge unfair advantage that we simply can’t match. This is why we shouldn’t allow any drugs in a horse whatsoever. If they need to be on drugs for their health then send them to the farm and treat them until they get healthy. I don’t want to see the L next to the horses name in the pp’s, enough already. If everyone is clean and they test before and after the race then it’s a level playing field even for the betters. The most important part of all this is once they test positive what are you going to do about it. For me if I was a commissioner of the game the first offense to the trainer would be a year ban, 2nd two years and so on. If a horse tested positive I wouldn’t allow that horse to run until he tested clean, it’s not hard people it can be done. I love the game and I will always follow it but as for betting I have stopped! I can’t do it anymore, I’m tired of hearing after the fact that a horse who beat me was dq’ed from purse money yet my ticket is still dead. I had a $30 tri bet in the sprint with Defrong, All, AP Indian that I should have collected but instead I’m out the $150 bucks it cost me for the $30 bet because the cheat horse runs 2nd. How is this fair to me? Yes the cheat horse gets dq’ed a month later but the betting public (me) still gets the shaft. Case closed!

  • good and factual article
    I suppose any time now the “open despence” folks will chime in with vigor

    Open despence is when a vet provides a schedule med without an exam or script.

  • Michael Castellano

    Who are the cheats? Probably some of them are the top trainers in the sport. Before the Players Association and the Commissioner of Baseball were forced by Congress into action, a healthy percentage of players had come to be using and abusing steroids. When the word spread that McGuire had broke Maris’s homer run record thanks to steroids, there was no stopping the onset of their usage, in part to be competitive, in part to make the huge contracts that were being offered. In racing, certain substances, especially in the steroid family, add perhaps a second or two to a horses performance, depending on the distance. This creates a huge advantage. Even an honest trainer is compelled by lack of enforcement to seek ways to remain competitive. The longer nothing or little is done to correct this, the more you will have cheating. This discourages wagering, which is the bedrock of the industry. Especially wagering from overseas interests, where there is better security. Huge amounts are bet at some foreign tracks. Eventually this country will lose the breeding edge as the best horses go where there is the most money.

  • togahombre

    a two part lecture that makes no mention of the owners responsibility in all this, and to listen to some of the windbags,the owners are the victims, how can the beneficiary be the victim? if a trainer gets a ruling against him with days, he can’t participate at all,for that period,besides the vet list for the horse, it should be for all of the owners horses as well, and not just days, many months along with the trainer,they share in the rewards they can share in the punishment, also;for those that seem to think a commissioner is the answer, just remember major league baseball had a commissioner that led a league where the owners were getting the rewards of him turning a blind eye, it’s like recreational drugs, until you create a situation where the profit is greatly diminished and the risk far outweighs the reward you’ll never get rid of it

    • I agree
      At one time I felt and still do that alot of owners may not know what is being given but the flip side is inspiring owners to not use those trainers. If they continue with a know violator then yes the owner is a culpable as much as the trainer

      • gus stewart

        Heres a good story for you all about good people in biz.. my freind whn he trained had a billion, yea billion dollar owner give him an open ck book to go to a sale a buy him some racehorses. He went to one of big keenlamd sales and came back with not one horse. The owner, also freind said what happened he told him most were overpriced and the others just had confirmation problems. So they remained freinds but he of course found another trainer that had no problem over paying with his money.. so there are good people who are in racing.

        • Yes there is but finding them is getting harder and harder. Most I knew are no longer with us

  • Marlaine Meeker

    Wake up and smell the roses or maybe the lack of them. Horse racing in the U.S. is in trouble. It is one of my passions and I have few, but I cannot get anyone new excited about it. They bring up doping, cruelty to the horses spending 23 hours a day in a ,stall, no aftercare programs,TB’s going to slaughter auctions,ect. The point is this is what they hear and until we redeem the industry, we are not likely to get many new fans. The writing has been on the wall and I guess we need a thorough eye exam, or take off the rose colored glasses.

  • SteveTG

    If one is truly for the horses then one cannot support the status quo.

  • Sherri

    To be fair, Richard Dutrow had No heavy or hard drugs in those 70 violations. Many, actually most of these violations were administrative in nature, such as not having colors in the jocks room, and sloppy paper work.

    • togahombre

      actually he had two, one for mepivacaine which he got 60 days for another for butorphanol that under cross examination the chemist that testified against him admitted the tests for it are not reliable, but your right, he didn’t get ten years for what was on his record

    • What about the drugs he may have used that were undetectable that the authorities suspected he was using? Al Capone was sent to prison on a technicality for breaking the IRS code, but in real life, he was sent there for all of the rest of the crap he did. Do you think OJ Simpson is in jail now because of what he did in his last ill-conceived caper, or for murdering two people?

      • Doc Malin

        So in Barry’s World, people are convicted for things they are thought to have done, not what is proved they have done.

      • togahombre

        he might’ve been able to make himself invisible too, but since nobody could see him they couldn’t prove it

    • billy

      Plenty of other trainer with a worse rap sheet still racing at all levels….plenty of trainers that get nothing but praise with that mile long violation record also

    • Mr J

      I read that he had a much lower % of breakdowns and fatalities than the national rate.

      • togahombre

        i don’t think he ever had a fatal breakdown, morning or afternoon, for all his years in ny, that might be why they suspended him

  • David Worley

    Mr. Gorajec, thanks for writing this two part series, I enjoyed reading it.

    I used to be optimistic that positive change could be made on the drug issue, but I am growing more skeptical. I’m convinced that drugs will continue to be a problem in TB horse racing until someone puts together a sort of league-type racing program that has a commissioner and vested interest in creating a truly level playing field. The problem here is that gambling is a highly regulated activity in society and therefore all sorts of state agencies will ultimately be involved, but without gambling horse racing is not a compelling sport for viewers.

    In light of this, what we need (in addition to the elements listed in this article) is some sort of relinquishment of the strict regulations on gambling and the approval to put together a professional horse racing league similar to NASCAR or MLB. Until then, what incentive does an entity have to put up the type of capital to create this level playing field? The answer, is “very little.”

    • Totally agree. I was not in favor of the prior attempt at a racing league as I thought it was too restrictive and smacked of elitism, however, given the alternatives and the amount of cheating with drugs like clenbuterol, I think the best answer for the survival of the game in the upper echelon is for a major circuit, with the remainder relegated to the bushes. If it takes a league to accomplish this, then so be it. It does not take a lot of money to cheat, only the will to do so and I think there is just as much funny business at smaller track as at the larger ones.

    • Peter Scarnati

      Not only would horse racing be “not compelling as a sport for viewers” without gambling, the simple fact is there would be NO horse racing for viewers of any kind without gambling. It’s the sole reason the industry exists.
      No fans = no gambling = no money (revenue).

    • joe gorajec

      Mr. Worley – Thank your for your kind words.

      Unfortunately, there are many good reasons for your skepticism. Many regulators do not believe that protecting the integrity of the sport is their most most important duty. Instead of being proactive, they have chosen the path of least resistance. That path has lead us to the mess we have.

  • billy

    I would like you all to look into how the UFC and the USADA handled the most recent brock lezner sactions and make your own educated decision if they are the answer…. On the horse racing side I would like you all to look up the horse SEEKING THE SHERIF and with the most recent breeders cup issue and Ron ellis make some connections to what was going on there

  • Erin Casseday

    Thank you for a very good article.

  • Michael Castellano

    I trust my predictions are better than my handicapping, but it seems very likely that one of the top trainers in the sport will one day be outed and disgraced. It will probably be when some stable hand or vet or some disgruntled former employee gets into trouble and offers up the inside info to avoid or lessen some trouble they got themselves into. This would likely have to be on a federal level, as it is likely to be squelched by state officials. Racing is setting itself up to have their version of Lance Armstrong. I wouldn’t bet against it happening one day.


    This is a well written piece that does not touch on the real problem. That is that horsemen do not fear the reaper. 1.) There is not enough testing. Tracks, state governments and horsemen do not want to spend the money for split samples for every horse in every race. “Random” has produced virtually nothing, as there are few random tests. 2.) The same guys who test positive time after time, are lawyered up in advance. The appeal is already drafted and awaiting the date and horse’s name to be inserted. Lastly, their lawyer is also a major owner in their barn. 3.) Subsequently, EVEN when they get caught, they do not fear reprisals as their owners are often the biggest players at the track. 4.) This isn’t new and this article could have been written in 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005 or 2015. Same sh*te, different day.

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