Substance charges laid following Queensland stewards probe

Horse Racing Queensland, Australia.

AAP | nine.com.au | (23 Jun. 20) — Queensland stewards have charged 15 people, including 13 trainers, with buying unregistered substances after a state wide investigation over the past two months.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission said it had informed 13 thoroughbred trainers, one stable hand and one jockey they had been charged with allegedly procuring substances or preparations in breach of the applicable legislation.

Those charged are trainers John Zielke, Jared Wehlow, Ricky Vale, Benjamin Williams, Christopher Tapiolas, Ian Shaw, Toni Schofield, Steven Royes, Kevin Miller, Darryl Hansen, Darryl Gardiner, Kristy Best, and Trinity Bannon, stablehand Andrew Minton and jockey Mark Barnham.

They are based in areas from the Sunshine Coast to central Queensland.

QRIC boss Ross Barnett said the alleged breaches were as a result of a state-wide investigation into the alleged procurement of substances or preparations in breach of Australian Rule of Racing 256(2)(a)(iii).

“The rule says: A person must not have in his or her possession or on his or her premises any medication, substance or preparation which has not been registered, labelled, prescribed, dispensed or obtained in accordance with applicable Commonwealth and State legislation,” Barnett said.

“All those charged have been notified and Stewards have requested submissions in writing or at an Inquiry on a date to be fixed.”

It is understood some of those charged face multiple offences while others face as few as one.

The charges relate to purchase or procuring substances but not administering, which is a more serious charge.

There have been several raids conducted by police on racing stables in Queensland this year but no information was available on whether Wednesday’s charges were related to those investigations.

©aap2020


See also TheAge.com for further coverage »


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Venezuelans outraged by slaughter of racehorse for food

Venezuela racehorse slaughtered.

REPORTED BY THE NEW YORK POST (Jun. 13, 2020) — The grisly slaughter of a beloved racehorse is shining a light on just how desperate Venezuelans are for food as they struggle to survive their country’s economic collapse.

Ocean Bay, who galloped away with Venezuela’s most prestigious titles, was stolen and butchered Monday, sparking outrage that spread like wildfire across the country, The Associated Press reported.

“What a disgrace,” Ramón García, the stallion’s longtime trainer, tweeted. “This isn’t the Venezuela that I grew up in.”

Farmers and veterinarians have reported dozens of horses cut to pieces over the past few years as a recession has deepened into a depression. A UN World Food Program study earlier this year found one in three Venezuelans is going hungry.

The death of Ocean Bay hit particularly hard though, because of his fame and striking looks — a shining coffee-colored coat with an elegant white diamond-shaped streak on his face.

In 2016, the stallion snatched two of Venezuela’s three Triple Crown races. He sustained an injury but returned the next year to win five more races.

One illustrator posted portraits of Ocean Bay online; others blamed President Nicolás Maduro for letting the nation get into such a sorry state.

“This is painful for all of us,” Susana Raffalli, a nutrition expert who consults for relief agency Caritas Venezuela, wrote on social media. Read full article »


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Will the Teflon effect keep Bob bobbing along?

Bob Baffert, U.S. Thoroughbred racehorse trainer.

by JANE ALLIN

The Triple Crown races are upon us again, albeit postponed, and Baffert is back in the news.

Two of his horses, one a top contender for the Belmont Stakes, tested positive for Lidocaine. Not one but two — Charlatan and stable mate Gamine — both of whom won on the race card at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on May 2, 2020. See Two Bob Baffert horses test positive for banned substances at Oaklawn.

Lidocaine is a Class 2 drug, and is considered to have a high potential to affect performance in racehorses. But, and this is a big but, and has the ability to exonerate trainers guilty of using it as a PED, it is often considered by some to be an overage instead of doping.

“Lidocaine can be used legitimately for suturing wounds or as a diagnostic tool to determine whether horses are sound enough to compete. The drug may also be present in ointments or creams used on cuts or abrasions. It is regulated because of its potential to mask lameness in an unsound horse.”

How flawlessly convenient. What an easy out for Teflon Bob (if required).

And what kind of message does this send the public during this unprecedented chaotic time in racing, when your golden boy of the racing circuit continues to have horses prepping for the Derby and other prestigious races, testing positive for drugs, then attributing all of them to innocuous reasons, accidental contamination or whatever.

Or alternatively, simply having them swept them under the rug like the 7 dead horses who mysteriously died in Baffert’s stable a few years back, despite having been administered thyroxine and the presence of rat poison detected in the necropsies.

How about this? Does anyone know of a horse, or horses who have a thyroid condition? Baffert did. But they are dead now. After exonerating him, the California Horse Racing Board banned its usage. Speaks volumes, but no one was listening.

No different with Justify’s tarnished Triple Crown victory in 2018.

Trained by Baffert, Justify failed a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby. Rather than clear this up immediately given the upcoming Kentucky Derby and other Triple Crown races, California racing officials investigated the failed test for 4 months, allowing Justify to go on to win both the Preakness and the Belmont and “stealing” (emphasis required) the much-sought after Triple Crown.

Then, in August after the dust had settled, and after Justify’s breeding rights had been sold for $60 million, the California Horse Racing Board — whose chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, had employed Baffert to train his horses — disposed of the inquiry altogether during an unusual closed-door session.

The verdict? The banned drug scopolamine was the result of “environmental contamination,” not intentional doping. Baffert vehemently denied any wrongdoing but the quantity of the drug found was no where near suggestive of innocence.

This was, and remains, a huge embarrassment to the industry. Shameful, in fact.

Here you have the legendary trainer — Bob Baffert — a man who has cheated his way through his career and now has pulled off the biggest horse racing coup in history — the Triple Crown — while doping his horse.

I hope the horse racing industry is dutifully proud.

Showcasing him as the face of honest, hard working trainers is beyond preposterous. But the end always justifies (pun intended) the means, and these people seem to let nothing stand in their way, human nor animal, while hiding behind their names and big stables.

And let’s not forget this announcement from racing’s own Lance Armstrong.


“It is time for the horse-racing industry to unite in support of a national anti-doping regulatory system” — Bob Baffert


No problem Bob, as long as you’re part of the clean-up. This is the pinnacle of hypocrisy — a hollow, meaningless statement. Not only a Hall-of-Fame trainer, but now pursuing an induction into the Irony Hall of Fame as well. It’s the pot calling the kettle black. Saying something and doing something are two different things.

Baffert supporting the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA) was not only disingenuous but also the timing was decidedly convenient given the federal indictments handed down to more than 2 dozen trainers, including Jason Servis the trainer of Maximum Security, one of the leading racehorses in the world and one who benefited from a doping regimen, according to one of the indictments.

And the irony just keeps getting better. Maximum Security has been handed off by the Wests to Baffert to train. Seriously? From the frying pan into the fire for this poor horse. This is adding insult to injury. It might be a good time for the implementation of the Hall of Shame.

But I digress. Getting back to the current issue . . . .

Baffert has requested his right to have a second test run on the samples for Charlatan and Gamine, and while we don’t have those test results available yet, what are the odds they’ll catch and release him as always?

I’m not holding my breath for any kind of movement on horse racing’s ability to crack down on the golden face of America’s racing. No, this would make things worse, according to the racing industry’s absurd guarded assurance that protecting this “face” will keep the sport alive. Or would it?

In the past, and up until the last year or two in particular, the general public has been fooled by the praise awarded to these high-profile dopers. That façade seems to be fading however.

Baffert and most high-percentage trainers are corrupt — cheating and doping is just as contagious as doing the right thing. And the public is finally becoming cognizant of it.

This guy has been given too many passes, but the business loves “a winner” and money talks. However, victories by those not being totally honest, whether by their own account or at the whim of the racing authorities, are hollow, meaningless wins. Many recognize this, more than ever before.

Whether the 2nd test is positive or not, I will have serious issues giving Baffert the benefit of the doubt considering his past and the leniency racing authorities have afforded him at the expense of their reputations. In the end, Baffert’s misdeeds will not go unpunished.

And if the tests are positive?

What could be more fitting than a horse called Charlatan? “Charlatan was a fraud” . . . . they will all be shouting. Don’t get me wrong, the horse has no blame, but how fitting the name — the joke writes itself.

In the end, money is the top priority, you might even say the only priority. The business model is built on sentient beings manipulated as inanimate objects who are secondary to profits and once unprofitable, disposed of.

All of these ostentatious gestures about caring for these remarkable souls is artificial and the dishonesty is an attempt to lure people into the game. This kind of business model clearly establishes that horse racing in the U.S. has descended into hell. Truth be told, it’s been there for a long time.

The media and the public have been led to believe that track surfaces are killing horses. The truth is, trainers, veterinarians, and their penchant for drugs — illicit or not — are killing these horses, while horse racing’s administrative authorities are enabling it by supporting this carnage.

Is rehabilitation in the cards for this “industry”? The current strategy of “damage control” is not effective reform, nor is it working — that is blatantly clear.

The horses – the saddest victims of them all.

Sleep well Bob. I’m sure the racing gods will rule in your favor.


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FEATURED IMAGE: JAMIE RHODES/USA TODAY SPORTS.

Source for Baffert Quote: See https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/baffert-federal-indictments-have-convinced-me-industry-needs-horseracing-integrity-act/

Response to “Bramlage: racing and training 2-yo’s reduces their risk of injury”

Over the shoulder portrait of a beautiful horse. Shutterstock/Svetlana Ryazantseva.

When we saw the title of this article on the Paulick Report we knew we were not going to like what it contained because of the use of Bramlage. Really? Paulick is so much smarter than that, so not sure what is going on there. Natalie Voss? Well, she’s a very good writer. It is puzzling.

We won’t sport with your intelligence regarding what Bramlage had to say in the headlined article. If you wish to sport with it yourself (wink), here is the link to it.

Jane Allin responds

I truly question the motive behind this article. Perhaps that is unfair of me, but it seems of late that articles such as these promoting disputed practices in racing are becoming more prevalent these days. 

But, but…a respected equine veterinarian — who would mistrust his opinion? Surely no one, right?

While there is ample evidence showing that exercise in young horses is paramount to stimulating bone remodeling, the science doesn’t necessarily warrant the title of this article. It is no secret that research supports the idea that bone morphology and mechanical and chemical properties can be affected by exercise or the lack of it from birth throughout the life of the horse. None whatsoever. But this analysis is flawed. 

And yes, the Equine Injury Database does in fact appear to indicate that 2-year old racehorses had lower fatality rates than 3- and 4-year olds and that horses who didn’t race as 2-year olds broke down more often than those who did. However, despite the “science” of bone remodeling being valid, the statistics quoted do not inevitably support the fact that racing is good for all 2-year old horses.

Why? 

To start with, it is recognised that many horses who do not start racing at two, are unsuccessful in training and racing at that age or have inherent soundness issues. It is a misdirected argument to make a sweeping statement claiming that racing as a 2-year old is beneficial when in fact, not all horses are part of the statistical data. There is absolutely no truth in that statement. 

Sample Selection Bias

What is more apt is that those horses who didn’t race as 2-year olds, but raced later and broke down more frequently, really shouldn’t have been racing at all. This is like comparing apples to oranges in the real world. There is no “control” group here, so statistically speaking, this is meaningless — sample selection bias. 

Moreover, the data that identifies more fatality rates in 3-yr old and older horses includes horses that raced as a 2-yr olds. Despite the fact that the data shows those who didn’t race as 2-yr olds broke down more frequently, horses that raced as 2-yr olds did indeed break down. Cherry picking is a hallmark of poor science, especially knowing that the sample selection is biased. 

There are other things to discuss here as well, but I digress. 

As much as some may disagree, the underlying objective of this article is in response to all of the current negativity the racing industry is facing — the drugs, the declining soundness, the rush to the breeding shed, the gambling, and ultimately, the fact that the racing industry has failed the very being that makes it tick. 

Deflection. 


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Featured Image: Shutterstock/Svetlana Ryazantseva.