Judge: CHRB Can’t Enforce Los Alamitos Hair-Testing House Rule

by | 03.11.2016 | 8:53am
Dr. Edward Allred, owner of Los Alamitos race course, imposed a house rule using hair testing

On March 10, 2016, in Department 85 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Honorable James C. Chalfant, Judge presiding, granted Quarter Horse Owner Gustavo De La Torre's petition for a writ of mandate directing the California Horse Racing Board to set aside its approval of the Los Alamitos Race Course “house rule” providing for disqualification of horses resulting from hair testing for albuterol and clenbuterol, both authorized medications in California.

Additionally, the court ruled that De La Torre is entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief against both the California Horse Racing Board and Los Alamitos regarding enforcement of the illegal “house rule.”

De La Torre was represented by Los Angeles attorneys, Darrell Vienna and Carlo Fisco. Commenting on the Court's decision, Vienna said: “The disqualification of Mr. De La Torre's horse from the El Primero Del Año Derby was contrary to established Horse Racing Law and CHRB regulations. We were pleased the Court granted Mr. De La Torre's petition and are convinced that a return to the rule of law will benefit California horse racing.”

Co-counsel Fisco noted: “Judge Chalfant's rebuke of the CHRB and Los Alamitos is just another in a long line of decisions where the CHRB was found to have ignored the law or failed to discharge its mandatory duties. These clear decisions warrant, in my opinion, a comprehensive review by the Governor or other principals into the policies, personnel and practices of the CHRB. The public interest cannot be held hostage by an agency bent on ignoring the mandates of California law and its own rules.”

Click here to read the decision.

  • Andrew A.

    Ouch

  • Alan

    Reason cheaters get to keep cheating

  • kim

    Its not over

  • Mark

    CHRB Government Regulators guilty of ignoring their own laws . TIME FOR THE CHRB TO PAY FOR THE INJUSTICE THEY CAUSE .

    • Bourbon Man

      Government by oligarchy and this is what you get – CHRB and stewards, bought and paid for.

      • Horse Guy

        Not so fast, this rule was initiated by the track but endorsed by the Horsemen’s group who the accused is a voluntary member of. The CHRB is a government agency but all three worked together on this “house rule”. This will be interesting given the fact that the accused broke his “agreement to run conditionally drug free” when he entered the race in the first place. These stakes races are different. Read a conditions book and a stake entry prior to calling anyone names.

        • Bourbon Man

          So you consider the CHRB to be fair and balanced? Really? You and Frank Monteleone…

          • Horse Guy

            I’m not commenting on the CHRB. I’m only responding to the Los Al situation. If you nominate and enter a stakes race there, you are willingly acknowledgeing the fact that you will be hair tested. You are agreeing prior to paying to enter any stakes race. It’s in the nominations blanks. If you don’t want to submit to clean racing and a confirmation hair test, don’t enter. It’s really that simple. The conditions at Los Al supersede the state(CHRB) rules of enforcement.

    • ben

      Just close the gates. All problems fixed.

      • ben

        The track is able to get them bloodtests done on their own expense, so maybe the case is not nearly solved.

        Just like a trotter racetrack is dooiing in New York.

        • JW

          Once again Babbling Ben.
          We are talking about hair testing in California.

  • Hello USADA. Come in USADA. We need you before the sport is marginalized into submission. Come in USADA.

    • Guillermo

      Then we’ll have more Regulators than Horsemen.

      • Northern Dancer

        I don’t call using drugs to compete a horse person. That said, the USASA is greatly needed to manage the entire drug testing process in the U.S. from start to finish including out of competition testing.
        Until then pack your bags and leave because you don’t have a hope in hell of winning against this mayhem.

        • Forget Mayhem, what about Mohayman!

          • Northern Dancer

            HaHa – good one, and a really nice horse too.

        • Scott Ramsay

          Does your definition of horsemanship mean that you would deny horses the great advances in equine medicine that have been made to protect their welfare?

          I agree there is no place in racing for cheating drugs. And I agree that horses should not compete on drugs. But so far as I know, the only medication that horses can be given on race day is Lasix, and that’s what racing’s controversy is really all about . . . that one medication given in a strictly controlled environment in a strictly controlled quantity so that it cannot mask anything else.

          • There are two drug parts to the equation: legal therapeutic and illegal/unknown/designer drugs. There is some dispute as to threshold level of legal drugs. There is plenty of dispute about whether any race-day drugs should be permitted, which centers around the use of Lasix. And there are the cheating drugs. To discount the horsemanship involved in keeping a horse from becoming a chronic bleeder is to deny reality. Horsemanship plays a pivotal role. Aside from this, I for one am more interested in controlling the use of PEDs in the form of illegal and unknown drugs. If given a choice, I would prefer no drugs on race-day including Lasix, because I firmly believe it would be better for the welfare of the horse and the sport. But until such time as we have a handle on the illegal use of cheating drugs, I am not going to waste my time or energy fighting Lasix because it has become too divisive of an issue and takes away from the focus on illegal drugs, which are undermining the very fabric and heart of racing. It would be nice if those in favor of Lasix would concentrate more on illegal drugs. But I see very little evidence of this taking place. For example, can anybody tell me the last time they read about a trainer or a veterinarian turning in a peer for using illegal substances? The answer, of course, is not forthcoming, because it never happens. Until such a day that it does happen, I am not going to take the horsemen or the vets seriously when they say they are against the use of cheating drugs.

          • Scott Ramsay

            It seems to me the racing commissions should spend whatever it takes to identify and get tests for true cheating drugs, and that means using any means necessary, including undercover informants. I have asked about this before and the answer was, “no funding.”

            So, instead, they spend all their time and energy (and money) bringing down all of racing on therapy or permitted medication, instead of going after the real cheating drugs.

            I know a lot of horsemen and nobody has disagreed with me about that. Why would anyone want to be beaten by a cheater?

            Assuming there are cheaters out there, and they’re everywhere even in tennis, then to catch them means we have to put people undercover and conduct stings and do anything else necessary to find what they are using. Vets or trainers or owners or breeders.

          • Scott, I have been writing about this for the past two decades and in fact I am the first one that suggested USADA in a story in The Blood-Horse more than a decade ago. Here is the real issue in a nutshell: everybody knows what needs to be done, but there is no appetite for an independent overseer for drug policy in America. The state regulators have failed miserably in this regard and now are in the full-time practice of protecting their turf, so to speak. Only USADA can save the day. Right now racing is heading towards a death spiral.

          • Bourbon Man

            Did you see Spotlight? The corruption in racing is similar in that it extends to the highest levels of each little state-run kangaroo court. That is why a national entity is needed. One that doesn’t own a track, or a horse, or is a third generation horseman; in short, an uninvolved, third party. I would assume that out of competition would become commonplace and that scares the beejeepers out of certain folks

          • Northern Dancer

            The majority of therapeutic medication is actually used to keep chronic issues at bay so that the horse can keep running.
            It was originally intended to be used in combination with rest so that a medical ailment can completely heal.
            So healing I agree with, absolutely, but masking ailments and pain to keep bringing in a check is an entirely different approach that I don’t support.
            Any dope used to win races is unacceptable as I think you agree with.

      • You are obviously not well informed on this subject. In fact, just the opposite would be the case.

        • Guillermo

          Us peasants you consider of low social status are the ones who do much of the work with horses and know more about horses than you. We also know horse racing doesn’t need a central committee KGB style governing organization.

          • Northern Dancer

            The industry is in dire need of independent, and centralized oversight. I realize that the government is not the answer, but the current state of horse racing is not the answer either.
            The lesser of 2 evils at this point is the USADA. They have extensive experience with doping, and all competing athletes sign contracts to adhere to their rules, regulations, and violations. Of course racehorses can’t sign contracts, but the connections would be required to do so including a provision that vets MUST release all vet records surrounding the treatment of any racehorse that tests positive. This is standard operating procedure for any professional competitive business in the world today.
            It should be the same for horse racing. Scrap the useless and allegedly corrupt commissions. Use the funding from that to fund the USADA, and everybody participating in the industry must adhere to the process just like professional human athletes.
            It’s very possible to do.

          • Guillermo

            There are many hurdles for a USADA take over. For example.
            Veterinary Records: Before any veterinary records can be released, most State Veterinary Practice Acts require the veterinarian to obtain written authorization from the owner(s) of the horse prior to release of any veterinary records.How is the veterinary practice acts of all states going to get changed?
            Cost: Who is going to pay for All of this?
            Constitutionality: Is this even Constitional considering States Rights?

          • kcbca1

            Just keep coming with what can’t be done and why. How about a little vision forward and what can be done and how? The naysayers will slow done the inevitable everytime.

          • Meg Hiers

            The Veterinary Practice Acts don’t need to be changed at all. All that is needed is the Jockey Club to require owners to sign over their consent for release of veterinary records while the horses are competing in order to register the horse. Of course, it isn’t like vets are going be logging the illegal drugs given (hell, they very well likely won’t be the person giving those drugs). However, I really do question anyone who is against national uniform drug regulations and professional, efficient collection and treatment of the samples. Those that aren’t trying to job the system would benefit. It is only those that are working the bumbling and patchwork nature of the current system to their own benefit who would mind. Regardless there are plenty of other things that could be changed that would also improve the current climate- starting with insisting on real requirements to obtain a training license – this would help cut out all those trainers that continue training through bans under their brother’s wife’s sister’s name.

          • Doc B

            Guillermo is correct. Veterinary practice acts required veterinarians each and every time very records are released to get written permission from the owner of the animal. If multiple people owned a horse, all of the horse’s owners would have to request each and every time for the release of veterinary records.
            The Jockey Club has no authority to superceed any state law.

          • Meg Hiers

            Regardless, as I mentioned before, opening up vet records really does very little to change anything about the problem of drug abuse. It is cosmetic at best. I still think the best approach is getting in the research and development of the biopassport so that the industry can tell if it really can be the magic bullet. Considering it is the changes to the horse’s physiology that put the PE in PEDs, that is where the best evidence for tampering should be found, no matter when or what the next designer drug is.

          • Bourbon Man

            Out of competition testing. Lance knew when he was going to be tested and prevailed for years as a cheater. Certain trainers do the same. Of course, it helps to have the horse back in your home base as often as possible.

          • Jocke Muth

            Easy fix, ALL owners have to apply for a racing license, simply include a release form in the application. Those who don’t sign it don’t get a licens. Problem solved.

          • Bourbon Man

            Well said. Those that protest certainly are suspect.

          • You seem to have quite a grasp of the Constitution of the United States for a mere peasant. I am impressed.

          • Northern Dancer

            No doubt there are hurdles, but they are not insurmountable.

          • kcbca1

            I know Barry’s qualifications, what are yours? We need USADA.

          • David

            Barry’s qualifications?
            Do you mean operating the stable with Other People’s Money?

          • kcbca1

            Isn’t that what successful business people do? Investors invest in companies that they believe will be successful. Owners place their faith in all sorts of people with whom they believe will provide a return or at least not lose a ton.

          • David

            Lose a ton a likely secerno.

          • kcbca1

            I Guess Barry’s pick of Animal Kingdom was a real loser. Right?

          • Trish

            You haven’t caught on to
            P T Barnum Barry.

          • Northern Dancer

            Sure, but we are talking about racehorses people. Investing in a 1200 pound, flight or fright unpredictable animal on stilts is very different than investing in a inanimate object. If that isn’t blind faith I don’t know what is.

          • What an absurd comment.

          • Horse Guy

            You don’t know very much about syndicating horses. And yes, we need oversight in horse racing badly. If you have better group to suggest, please do.

          • As the likely next president of the United States might intone right about now, “I love the peasants. I love the peasants. It’s true, it’s true. Some of my best friends are peasants.”

          • Donald J.

            Who in their ‘right mind’ would vote for Hillary Clinton?

  • Charles Smith

    All the credit in the world to Doc Allred, he stood on his head in an effort to stem the tide of cheating at Los Al. Although the court has ruled against him, I hope the future finds Los Alamitos exercising their private property rights to exclude anyone they feel would have a detrimental presence on the grounds of the race track, trainers, owners, jockeys, whomever.

    • Ryan

      That is fine unless they are backdating their rules. Not allowing De La Torre to run a horse because it showed use of clenbuterol PRIOR to “house rules” is ridiculous. Already it was a more severe restriction than the CHRB (governing horse body) enforced but to backdate it? How is that fair? That’s like saying sorry, the Ky Derby is now for colts only so if you gelded your horse you’re screwed.

      • Horse Guy

        This ruling is about what the CHRB did, not Doc Allred. First of all, people need to understand that Doc’s “house rules” prohibit the use of clenbuterol in a Quarter Horse entered in any race. Doc then used what at the time, was the most effective and accurate way to test for the presence of the drug. He as the owner of the track published the rule in cooperation with the horseman’s group well more than 6 months in advance. When you enter a race at Los Al, you consent to follow the rule. Well, the accused did not and they were caught.
        What’s at stake here is that the CHRB adopted Doc’s tests and applied a penalty on behalf of the governing body known as the CHRB. What this really means is that Doc can forbid him from running at his track, but the accused can run elsewhere because reciprocity will not apply. It’s a problem for the industry outside of Los Al. I’ll bet a bunch that hair testing protocols will soon be written into the California Code.

        • Bourbon Man

          Why do people have a problem with catching cheaters, unless they cheat, too?

  • Scott Ramsay

    Lots of idle talk here until someone can actually read the decision.

    Last I checked, clenbuterol administration rules were altered to eliminate the possibility of performance enhancing in thorobreds, but permitting its valuable and agreed use for therapy a month before a race or some window like that.

    What the quarter people did was apparently try to use hair testing to get rid of any horse who had ever been given it. I’ve heard that Allred actually got horses trained by this guy bounced out of his big races, based on their having had clenbuterol evidence in their hair but not in normal blood or urine tests. The hair testing shows evidence of administration for like a year back.

    And Allred has his own horses in those big races.

    That all doesn’t sound too fair.

    I have always wondered why the commission in California can have one set of medication rules for quarters and another for thorobreds. And how they can use hair testing when it can’t give quantities.

    If the court ruling is being described accurately, there’s more to this than the knee jerk reactions say.

    And anyone who thinks USADA doesn’t permit therapeutic drugs doesn’t know USADA.

    • Northern Dancer

      Can you provide articles that support your last statement? I would be interested in reading those articles.
      Of course the human vs equine athlete has different consideration so provisions would have to be made for that.
      The point is the USADA is the most prominent and advanced doping testing in the world. They have the experience.

      • Scott Ramsay

        Go on line to check USADA all you want. Just do the research yourself, as I have. Just Google therapeutic medication USADA.

        And as for experience, USADA has never tested a horse, and has none with equines. As you correctly point out, lots of differences between human therapy and equine therapy. And cheating in both is different, I guess would be a logical conclusion. I would bet there is now more testing of equines in the world by far, than there is of humans in sport.

        • kcbca1

          I think you need to read the legislation. Rules to be made up by a consortium of stakeholders. And you don’t think USADA will conduct due diligence on testing protocols? That’s the reason they have been chosen due to their ability to work to standards. We are not talking about the BS testing the other major league sports do in this country. We are talking world wide olympic level standards similar to what they have in the FEI grand prix equestrian events.

          • Scott Ramsay

            WADA and USADA do not test equestrian events for the Olympics, at least not the horses. Those tests are done by the same equine testing labs racing and other horse sports use. Racing’s testing labs are not the problem in finding illicit drugs, assuming they’re out there. Racing needs to concentrate more on finding and making tests for cheating drugs and not put so much of their money into testing for therapy medication.

          • kcbca1

            You obviously have not read what I have written. I never suggested that they currently do only that they have the ability and integrity to do so.

          • Northern Dancer

            I did visit the website. First of all, I was very impressed with the extensive list of dope and what exactly is allowed and disallowed. No doubt that this organization has experience with doping which is why they have a good reputation globally.
            There is a chart that is easily accessible, and very user friendly. This chart has options. I choose the equestrian option since the USADA tests on equestrian Olympic level competitions.
            I plugged in some common medications used on racehorses, and there it was. Chapter and verse.
            That said, what I found particularly disturbing is that the USADA allows the use of intra-articular injections during competition. I took that to mean that a horse competing in a high level jumping event can literally be injected in the stall just prior to competition or about 4 hours out when it’s the most effective. This is unacceptable.
            Obviously, some fine tuning would need to be made for horse racing.
            What we do agree on is that money should be diverted to predominantly illegal substances as opposed to therapeutic.
            The most critical aspect of the entire doping scenario is penalties. Penalties should be so harsh that the connections don’t even think about doing it again.
            I’m not a legal person, but I have explored the idea that the racehorse should be suspended from running for a minimum number of days correlating with the substance positive and increasing with the Class I substance. In other words, eliminate the human element from prosecution, and focus on the competitor in this case the racehorse.
            It’s not unconstitutional to suspend racehorses, but it is for people in some cases which their attorneys use to their advantage.
            Here’s how it would work. Racehorse A gets a positive for a Class III. The racehorse can’t enter or race in any racing jurisdiction for 60 days. Racehorse B gets a positive for a Class II which is 90 days. Racehorse C gets a positive for Class I which is 180 days.
            After the days are served the horse would be tested for any substances and if it came out clean it would be allowed to enter and run again.
            This would save lots of money if the penalties were focused on the horse, and not the connections. In all other sports it’s the actual athlete that gets the suspension, but in horse racing this equation is reversed. The connections (mainly the Trainer) gets the fine and/or suspension. This needs to be completely overhauled, discontinued, and switch the focus onto the equine athlete.
            Moreover, a horse sitting in what amounts to jail time costs lots of money for the connections, and no possibility of picking up a check.
            I think that would be the best deterrence.
            Like I emphasize, I’m NOT a legal person, but my extensive research, and knowledge of the industry in many different capacities has led me to this idea and conclusion.

    • Ryan

      Scott you have the gist correct. This isn’t about drugs or no drugs it is about an unconstitutional “rule” made by one man with a vendetta against clenbuterol. And anyone that doesn’t think this benefits Doc needs to check out his win percentage before he booted out trainers and now.

    • Northern Dancer

      I’ll tell you one thing I definitely disagree with: racetrack owners owning racehorses that race at their own tracks. No way. This should not be allowed.
      Same with racing officials owning horses possibly under hidden ownership. Anybody in a position of power within the industry should not own horses.
      This should fall under the “conflict of interest” rule like insider trading information.
      The same thing that should be illegal.

      • Meg Hiers

        Well that is never going to happen.

        However, this points drives home the need for a completely separate agency that is in charge of testing. An entity that should have no other toe in the industry pool. They are simply responsible for research on therapeutic levels and testing, period.

        • Northern Dancer

          Many things that desperately need changing never change in this industry which is precisely why they are in the titanic mode.
          Totally agree that independent oversight of the entire drug testing process I needed for the integrity of the wagering product, the safety of both equine and human athlete.

  • Andrew A.

    I have the judges decision in PDF form. I will send it to Ray to see if he will post it.

    • Scott Ramsay

      Good. This is really important. I hope Ray will do it so we can see for ourselves. Then we don’t have to rely on the comments for interpretation and can make our own minds up.

  • Scott Ramsay

    Now this gets really interesting once you read the decision.

    Everything I said before seems in line with it.

    So the question now is, WHY did Allred and CHRB try to do this the way they did, which was clearly wrong.

    Why didn’t they instead go through the proper rule steps?

    First off, it seems that they would have encountered a lot of opposition for good reasons, and maybe some not-so-good reasons also.

    Second, who was advising them to do it this way?

    Third, I guess it can be verified that the track operator Allred also had horses in that big race. Does that ever smell bad. Hard to believe the commission didn’t see that would be a conflict of interest that would be totally unacceptable.

    Looks like both the commission and Allred have a lot of explaining to do.

    • Matthew Hood

      Cheating is rampant at Los Al and Allred knows it. He over stepped the bounds but it was done with good intentions. He will just have to find another way now.

  • Jack Frazier

    Of all the drugs used on race horses Clenbuterol may be the only one I would support use of. It works but the problem is the abuse by those who found that in large doses, it would build muscle mass and it enhance performance. I use albuterol, which is much like Clenbuterol in that it opens the bronchial passages and lets me breath better. Lasix is another story since it has been theorized that it masks other drugs. Leave that to the experts. I had horses on Clenbuterol when it was legal and the vets sold a hug bottle of ventapulum and just handed it over to the trainers which begged for larger amounts to be given by unscrupulous trainers. I have noticed, at least in California, that trainers who previously won races by the handful are now just also rans most of the time. A check of who was a leading trainers a few years ago shows those folks are no where to be found. If used correctly and the way intended, it helps the horse breath. It should be legal to use but administered by vets and the bottles should not be given to the trainers.

    • Matthew Hood

      Clen is banned in all human sports. There is a reason for that.Yes it can help some horses, but it’s far to easy to abuse and therefore should be banned.

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