Stuart S. Janney III, chairman of The Jockey Club, has responded to a letter from Russell C. Redding – Pennsylvania's Secretary of Agriculture and chairman of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission – in which Redding said Janney's critical remarks at the Jockey Club Round Table in August spread “misinformation” and were “irresponsible.”
“I stand by them and I deny that I spread misinformation,” Janney said in his Oct. 17 letter to Redding.
Janney provided details from sworn testimony at the federal trial of trainer Murray Rojas in which trainer Stephanie Beattie – a former president of the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and vice president of the National HBPA – admitted to cheating “thousands” of times and estimating that “95% to 98% of trainers at Penn National” were treating horses illegally on race-day.
Rojas was found guilty on 14 felony counts of misuse of drugs.
Janney also cited the testimony of veterinarian Fernando Motta and the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology Research Laboratory's then-acting director, Dr. Mary Robinson. Motta confirmed that illegal race-day drug treatments at Penn National were rampant and that he may have been responsible for violating rules thousands of times. Robinson admitted the lab did not have tests able to detect a number of drug treatments given to horses on race day.
“In my view,” Janney wrote, “the Rojas trial provided ample support for the conclusion that, during the time in question, there were indeed ‘regulators asleep on the job' and that there was a ‘corrupted and ineffectual testing system.'”
His letter to Redding did recognize progress in Pennsylvania's regulatory oversight of horse racing, including new rules that would disqualify a horse from racing for a specific time if it tests positive for a Class 1 or Class 2 drug. However, he remains perplexed over how the commission permitted two winners of the Parx Oaks – the original first-place finisher who subsequently tested positive for clenbuterol and the original second-place finisher – a decision Janney said would have “last, negative downstream effects on virtually all facets of the horse racing industry.”
Janney again endorsed the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017, introduced in Congress earlier this year, as a way for the industry to establish national independent oversight of medication rules, testing and enforcement.
“Taking a broader perspective, I also believe that there is much further to go in terms of ensuring the integrity of our nation's races and protecting our racing athletes. We learned many disturbing things through the Rojas matter, and I believe that these are emblematic of the numerous shortcomings of the anti-doping programs in this nation's many racing jurisdictions.”
Click here to read Janney's response to Redding, which includes transcripts from the Rojas trial of testimony by Beattie, Motta and Robinson.
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