December 2013 Issue - page 1

LANC., PA 17604
Vol. 20 No.11
Our 20th Year
December 2013
Enforcement of EU rules banning tainted
horsemeat stalls ... pg. 4
Arrive safely this winter with these trailering
tips ... pg. 12
O’Neill is 3rd level freestyle champion at first
US Dressage Finals ... pg. 28
New Bolton vet called to the rescue of Europe’s
greatest racehorse ... pg. 9
... and much more!
Holiday Gift Guide
pgs. 16-22
by Suzanne Bush
On Memorial Day in 1981
a bay colt named Summing won
the Pennsylvania Derby at the
venue known as the Keystone
Race Track. That was the same
year that Pennsylvania’s legisla-
ture reformed the laws govern-
ing horse racing in the state.
Summing could hardly have
been called a favorite, but the
Kentucky-bred colt impressed
his owners enough with that race
that they decided to enter him in
the Belmont. And there Summing
made history. He defeated Pleas-
ant Colony, depriving the favorite
of the Triple Crown.
Much has changed in horse
racing since Summing stormed
the gates at Belmont. In few
places, though, has racing
changed more dramatically than
here in Pennsylvania. The quaint
Keystone Race Track became
Philadelphia Park on its way to
becoming Parx, one of the state’s
premier racetrack/casinos. In
2004 Pennsylvania’s legisla-
ture opened the door to a vastly
different horse racing industry
when they legalized slot ma-
chines. Subsequently, the racing
industry has created a system of
bonuses and rewards for Penn-
sylvania-bred horses. Purses
have swelled with the influx of
dollars to the casinos—where
12 percent of the slot machine
revenue goes to the state’s horse
racing industry. The casino op-
erators retain 45 cents of every
dollar from the slots. Thirty-four
percent of every dollar goes to
property tax relief for Pennsylva-
nia residents.
In October, four state
senators announced plans to
take another look at the 1981
Race Horse Industry Reform
Act, which has largely remained
intact as written for more than
30 years, despite the dramatic
changes that have recast horse
Smarty Jones put Pennsylvania horse racing on the map when he nearly won the Triple Crown in
2004. That year Pennsylvania became one of the country’s most lucrative racing states, though
the laws governing racing haven’t changed in more than 30 years. Now four state senators want to
update the laws to improve the quality of racing.
Four PA Senators Want to Amend Rules Governing Horse Racing
racing in Pennsylvania. Repub-
licans Elder Vogel of Allegheny,
Dominic Pileggi of Delaware,
Joseph Scarnati of Jefferson
and Robert Tomlinson of Bucks
County issued a memorandum on
the 15th, seeking support for their
efforts to amend the law.
New Structure,
New Regulations
According to Mike Rader,
Executive Director of the Senate
Agricultural and Rural Af-
fairs Committee, one goal is to
eliminate duplication of efforts.
“We want to dissolve the racing
commissions, and put those func-
tions under the Gaming Control
Board,” he explains. Beyond
the functional changes, though,
Rader says the plan will address
other aspects of the state’s racing
“There’s no out of competi-
tion drug testing in Pennsylva-
nia,” he says, whereas that is
fairly common in other states. He
says that in addition to the drug
testing, which will add expense
to the Gaming Control Board’s
budget, the state senators want
to enact rules that would prohibit
track personnel from receiv-
ing gifts from breeders, trainers
and others. Rader explains that
some of these initiatives would
satisfy recommendations from
a 2009 Grand Jury investigation
into activities at Penn National
racetrack in Dauphin County.
During that investigation, several
witnesses testified that some
grooms and at least one trainer at
Penn National had been injecting
horses with snake venom, and
administering concoctions called
“milkshakes” to horses. Milk-
shakes, a combination of several
substances including Red Bull
energy drink, baking soda, sugar
and electrolyte powder, are not
permitted for horses within 24
hours of racing. Snake venom is
also prohibited.
In addition to the testimony
about illegal performance boost-
ers, witnesses told the Grand
Jury about gifts of liquor and
cash that were made to the rac-
ing secretary (who is no longer
there) and the racing office staff
at the track. “At every track we
have racing secretaries and the
management at the track who are
responsible for writing the race
cards,” Rader explains. The rac-
ing secretary can decide which
trainers would have access to
boarding at the track, and which
horses will be entered in specific
The Grand Jury recommend-
ed that the state Racing Commis-
sion or Penn National create rules
that would prohibit track person-
nel from accepting gifts from
trainers and owners, in addition
to developing more assertive drug
testing protocols.
Rader says that one of the
reasons for updating the 1981
legislation is that the cost of
enforcement of regulations is
growing faster than the fund-
ing for enforcement. “Look at
the decline in live handle as the
root of this problem,” he says.
“In this proposal we are looking
at measures that can help the
Market the Industry
Other matters that the
senators hope to include in their
reform plans would address the
issue of marketing and pro-
moting horse racing in Penn-
sylvania more aggressively.
Horse racing was the rationale
(Continued on page 7)
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