Gural, WEG Implement New Drug Regulations Aimed At Owner Responsibility

by | 01.13.2018 | 8:32am
Harness racing at the Meadowlands

In 2018, new regulations in place at three Jeff Gural-owned Standardbred tracks and two WEG ovals will mean that any owner whose horse has a positive test will be banned from participating in stakes races for the entire year. According to harnessracingupdate.com, the Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative (SRIAI) is designed to inspire owners to make better choices in terms of their trainers.

The drugs which will result in this stiff penalty include Class I, II, TCO2 and steroids. Owners will not be allowed to transfer their horses to another trainer, nor will they be able to sell the horse to a different owner; even if sold, the horse will remain ineligible to compete at Woodbine, Mohawk, Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs through 2018.

“We want partners to say to their fellow partners, ‘Look, I see that you've got horses with somebody that is riskier than the trainer that we have horses with together. It would be a terrible thing for there to be mistake, or something that's done, that could impact us all here. And, in particular, for me to suffer that bad consequence because you weren't careful and diligent in your choice of trainers,'” explained WEG chairman Clay Horner.

“I think it's going to shake things up,” Gural said. “I can't imagine any sane person, who owns stakes horses using anyone that is considered a drug trainer or someone who has had violations in the past because the consequences are so Draconian.”

Read more at harnessracingupdate.com.

  • Billy

    Mr gural….could you send a letter of reference on how to conduct racing to the pa racing commission parx and penn national…..they really need someone who gets it…and the horses are most certainly desperate for it

    • ben

      Not only the above mentioned, there needs to be a full change in regards to medication and drug use.

      The less is better.

      • Baloo

        Except for the guy who left a horse with a broken leg to stand in a stall without medical attention for a month; they either medicate too much, or not at all…

        • Harry Plummer

          I often wondered why the owner wasn’t around to see what was happening to this horse.

          • stridebig

            The trainer was the owner unfortunately. ~K

        • ben

          You take up, one specific example and is gooiing to blow that up, as if that,s common.

          There is a difference between abuse and daily care.

          • Baloo

            No; actually another horse had to be rescued and offered medical attention from the same barn … one is too many, IMHO

      • Billy

        Medication should be given on a as needed basis after being confirmed by diagnostic from a neutral party other then track vet imo…..all lasix users carry extra 10 lbs….there has to be incentive given to not use the stuff at this point…..horse racing is for the vigerously healthy horses and if thats not the case that horse can wait to race….im sick of horses suffering and paying the price due to “buissness” decisions

  • theosmachine

    On a side note Brett Pelling just resumed his training career after a 5 year suspension. Good luck Mr. Gural.

  • McGov

    It’s a good idea and a good place to start. Hopefully thoroughbred racing also adopts these new rules.
    I find it amusing when we hear about reports regarding positives on the decline. I suppose if we don’t know about MOST of the PEDs used and are not testing for them…..full cup blinker reports are nothing more than politics…..ie nothing to see here folks.
    Yep, definitely less use of drugs today then ever before. Hahahahaa. Nooo doubt ;)

  • Jeff Gural is The Man.

  • Mr. Moo

    That could give owners some traction to seek remedy against trainers. Provided they can prove they had no knowlege. And there is the case of owners selecting trainers based on those “other” abilities. So for the most part this is a good idea and A very good start

  • venetian

    Probably won’t have to worry about many owners sending horses to race at his tracks

    • Larry sterne

      That will check their will to have horse racing integrity. And give honest way forward

  • Larry sterne

    Hope thoroughbred racing has the backbone to do the same. Long overdue to make OWNER with ultimate responsibility.

  • Pbchi

    Good for Jeff. Owners are responsible and those that are like the three monkeys now have a choice to make

  • The_Advocate

    A horrible idea until more standardized testing is done throughout the country and the problem of nano trace elements addressed properly. Also, what happens in the instance an employee of the trainer does some sabotage work because he’s unhappy with his pay or discipline?? The owner should suffer for that. I think not. If that’s the case, the TRACK should pay to put surveillance equipment in every barn and every stall on the backside. Only then would something like that be fair.

    • Chrissy Gentry

      Not with you on the horrible idea, but I am 110 percent in agreement with surveillance equipment, running 24/7,

      • The_Advocate

        Do you own horses that race?

    • McGov

      What is the problem with detecting in nanograms?? Something to hide?
      Would you feel better if the finding was expressed in milligrams?? Or is it the great technology we have today that bothers you?
      The threshold value that results in an overage is determined through scientific study….and agreed upon as an amount that could affect performance. And if you don’t agree with the threshold value….perhaps don’t use the drug or don’t race at that track?
      Owners pay the bills and own the horse and should not be exempt of responsibility of the people THEY CHOOSE to hire….who in turn, hire support.
      Otherwise, they enable cheaters and if they are UNAWARE then they have no business choosing a trainer and should hire a manager that does know. Pretty reckless to simply throw money around and buy horses without any further responsibility but paying the bills. They do own the animal….one would think you have a responsibility to ensure an animal that YOU OWN is not being drugged or abused….might even say …it is your obligation;)

      • Dr. Alex Harthill, who at the time knew more about doping horses than anybody in America, once told me that people would be surprised to learn how little of a drug was required to alter the state of a horse.

      • Freedom Rocks

        Speaking as an owner, you make me want scream. I own horses that I bred, raised and took care of from the time they were conceived. I don’t want them drugged or abused but its not that easy to find a trainer that cares anywhere near as much as I do, You do your homework, you ask other other owners, vets, farriers etc. and walk down shed rows and hope you’re making a good decision. When you are paying someone plus or minus $100 /day you should be able to expect your horse is being taken care of responsibly. You shouldn’t have to be there everyday or you might as well be training them yourself. But if you can’t be there everyday, trainers are very good at keeping owners in the dark. I’ve had some very bad experiences with some so called reputable and very successful trainers (Breeder’s Cup winning trainers, Derby winning trainers, etc.). Its not for a lack of trying to do right by the horses, but the bottom line is trainers want to win and they want that day money. You tell me, as an owner, how to ensure that my babies are being properly taken care of when they are in training. If you can tell me how to do that I will be forever indebted to you. I know not ALL trainers are bad but neither are all owners! If you hire a babysitter that comes highly recommend and you find out after the fact that she hurt your child, should you be punished? The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is by being there. But if you are there, then you don’t need a babysitter. Same difference! And just because you paid the babysitter, it doesn’t mean you don’t care about your child, it just means you needed a babysitter!

        • McGov

          I realise that there is a gap between the farm and the racetrack. I know that it can be difficult to assess from this perspective. They are completely different networks and cultures and and and and.
          I would suggest researching violations. Dropping in randomly and asking the groom, hot walker and rider questions….as you see fit. You are the boss. Bring your own 3rd party expert horse person with you and run your hands down those legs.
          If you really want to know what is going on with your horse when you are not there….put a camera in its stall and connect to your computer….take blood randomly and periodically on the horse and have it sent to your own lab etc etc….test for anything and everything…take a background blood on the horse before the horse is sent anywhere so that you can compare normal etc.
          Again, I know it’s not easy and I know it’s an expensive investment and I know how much you want it go well and how much they become like your family. I have owned horses at a variety of different times since the early 90s and have participated in many different spokes within the wheel of racing and breeding and rehabilitation etc. I am intimately familiar.

          • Freedom Rocks

            Thank you. I appreciate knowing you understand and your suggestions are noted. Done all but the camera and random blood draws. I’m a little chicken about pissing off the person thats suppose to be taking care of my horses. I’ve crossed that line before and it didn’t end well. It’s so frustrating, to all of us. From breeding, to the sales, to racing there is no level playing field. It’s one giant crap shoot and in an industry where luck plays such a giant role it’s disheartening that professionalism is so hard to come by. It’s the one thing you should be able to bank on. The saddest part is that its the horses that pays the ultimate price. We have a choice. We can walk away. They don’t have that option. They are 100% dependent on us to be the best custodians we can be. Whatever it takes to make people take that responsibility more seriously, I will stand behind it. I just wish I knew what the answer was!

          • McGov

            I get it….seems invasive. But, with this rule change it is not as outrageous to request blood randomly.
            Until such a time that we are able to rid our sport of those that package themselves cleverly enough to convince people to invest into their covert corrupt systems….you must keep a trainer to task as you would any employee….or subordinate…despite the balancing politicking required.
            This rule change forces owners to protect their investment and the if they cannot be motivated to do so simply because they should….then the monetary penalty should motivate them.
            The moment you start losing sleep over what is happening with your horses when you are not there…..is the moment before you start googling plan b, replacement trainer, and preparing a meeting to ask the tough questions.

          • Freedom Rocks

            Ok, well put. Sounds less like an accusation and more like it’s an avenue to give owners more control in an out of control situation. I can live with that. Thank you!

          • perks

            its a crying shame where we owners find ourselves in racing. Its really not fun anymore to be honest, its all pretty disgusting now. Cheaters wont be happy until they run it all into the ground.

          • gus stewart

            Its so sad that someone like yourself who has been involved in all aspects feels the way u do. Years ago my partner and i also were involved in ownership with stallions and broodmares. Heres my question to u and other current owners. Do u think u or other owners, should be responsible for paying more bills for camera’s? Absolutely not. 2nd question, do u and others owners think the people in charge of keeping racing clean and fair are truly trying to do that job? Third comment since i know the answer to second question is no, why dont owners band together to demand differnt people to do that job. If you as owners wont do it, your better of just being a fan until the sport goes away. I hope change will come but under current conditions put ur horses on a farm as riding horses they would be happier there. I do thank you as a fan trying to continue on.

        • Larry Sterne

          Sign employment agreement. You get caught with drugs,etc. Your net worth is mine, plus you agree to owner reqireddrug test of horses and all. Employees.if. they want the money they take the test.

      • Kelso5timeHOTY

        “Owners pay the bills and own the horse and should not be exempt of responsibility of the people THEY CHOOSE to hire….who in turn, hire support.
        Otherwise, they enable cheaters and if they are UNAWARE then they have no business choosing a trainer and should hire a manager that does”

        I haven’t read a more bigger piece of B.S on here then this. Way to generalize the situation. Who gives licenses to these trainers? The trainers are to be held accountable for scamming their owners. There is a difference between being ignorant, being in cahoots with a chemist, and then just being scammed.

        • McGov

          I appreciate the edit.
          IMO owners need to be more involved then simply paying the bills. These are animals they own and this is not the stock market.
          Holding owners accountable by penalising in this way will push them to exercise greater due diligence….and hopefully this results in less cheating.
          And let’s be honest…most people know who does what it isn’t really all that top secret. There is trouble nailing them and this approach might be effective until the labs play catch up.

    • togahombre

      this is about class 1 & 2 substances, putting the owners in the penalty is overdue, what they’ve had up to now is a situation where they’re paying their trainers to take the positive for them, if they share in the gains, then share in the losses

    • Baloo

      Cameras.
      Boom – solved

      • The_Advocate

        Agreed!

  • Chrissy Gentry

    A nice step in the right direction. There needs to be more accountability and stiffer penalties.

  • Kelso5timeHOTY

    So a clean owner would be banned because the trainer he hired took it upon himself to cheat without the owners knowledge. I am not speaking to owners who are in cahoots with the chemist trainer, but honest owners who hire and pay a conditioner to look after their horses. I support Mr.Gural on all his initiatives, but this needs refining big time.

    • togahombre

      it’s not unusual for a business owner to be held responsible for their employee’s wrongdoings, a little more due diligence would only help

    • ben

      No it does not to be refined, as an owner you are hiring an trainer and one has to be held for its own account. So in my opinion this one helps.

      • Kelso5timeHOTY

        So I buy a horse, stable it in NY, I live in Cali(Example). The trainer I employe has a perfect clean record. He decides one day that he needs to cheat in a race for the purse. How the F is the owner responsible for that when he’s entrusted, and employed the conditioner to prepare his horse, and stable his horse. You can’t just make a blanket punishment or that. There is a difference between an owner being in cahoots with a chemist trainer, and vet, and another when the owner isn’t in cahoots and gets screwed over by said trainer.

    • Larry Sterne

      U tell the owner when u hire them.Zero tolerance, because if I go down you will go down father than me. Owner is ultimate gauranteeor for all people he hires. Ignorance is not an excuse.

      • Kelso5timeHOTY

        BS. I am a WHOA person, and no conditioner hired by me will try any chemistry with my animals, and if they do, and I don’t know about it, why should I be punished? Yes I can sue my trainer for damages, but so what, my reputation has been hit in the business, for no reason other then I was scr$wed over by people I hired. Going after chemists I support, going after unsuspecting owners I don’t. That’s not IGNORANCE Larry.

    • Baloo

      Are you not responsible for your employees behavior? The idea is that owners would do due diligence to seek out clean trainers

      • Kelso5timeHOTY

        Did any of you people read my post????. I said for owners NOT in cahoots with Chemists. If I own a horse, and said horse is in a barn in NY, and I am in Cali, and that trainer isn’t notorious for cheating, but decides to do it that one time, How is the owner to be blamed for that? That is the WHOLE point of trusting a conditioner, hiring said person, and employing them. This isn’t lazy, nor ignorance as you all so easily spit out.

  • Erin Casseday

    Really like this idea and would hope to see extend into thoroughbred racing (and quarter horses also) but I do have a question. How does this work when the horse is owned by a group or a partnership? Are all parties then going to be held accountable?

  • disqus_Wp1tYwcjgm

    not fair to the horses, they don’t ask for the drugs

  • Boo-Hiss

    Good step in the right direction, but I doubt it will stand up in court on appeal. One thing, you can’t prohibit someone from selling something they own. Another thing, why does this just affect stakes horses. These are the people who can afford to develop undetectable designer drugs. If Gural is going to impose this penalty, it should be for ALL levels and every owner, not just stakes horses.

    • Baloo

      The designer PEDs are quite expensive and are more frequently used to attaine the really big purses ( see; TB racing )

  • Kevin Callinan

    Brilliant

  • Michael Castellano

    I’m sure this will wind up in court. As much as I think the rule would be a deterent, it seems unconstitutional on its face. Unless you can prove the owner had direct knowledge of drug misuse and collaborated in some fashion with the trainer.

  • Bubba

    I understand the intent of this rule. But looking at human nature in competition. I can see the incentive for someone to possibly drug a horse of an owner that might have a good stake horse. Just say a competitor doesn’t cheat by doping their horses, but can get a steroid shot or similar and have it given to another horse in their competitions barn. This will last for possibly 60 days and come back positive. Now that owner’s good horses are now banned from stakes. Rule needs refining.

  • Bryan Langlois

    Love the idea. Waiting to see how legal challenges play out against it…because you know it will be challenged…which means it may be a few years before case law on it is determined.

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