February 2015 Issue - page 1

Vol. 22 No.2
Our 22nd Year
February 2015
LANC., PA 17604
by Suzanne Bush
It wasn’t exactly déjà vu all
over again. But recent events
at Penn National Race Course
at Hollywood Casino did not
demonstrate a lot of positive
momentum from the troubles that
have dogged the race track for
the past several years. The drama
was certainly not the intention of
anyone in management at Penn
National; and most of the train-
ers, jockeys, horse owners and
track employees are not thrilled
with the headlines. But there they
are, nonetheless. And they come
at a time when Pennsylvania’s
horse-racing industry is facing
new competition and new regula-
tory attention.
Recent history proved to be
a dispiriting prologue. A 2011
Dauphin County Grand Jury
reviewed evidence gathered
during an investigation by the
Pennsylvania Racing Commis-
sion. Reportedly, trainers were
injecting horses with mixtures of
Red Bull and steroids—clear vio-
lations of rules governing racing.
One trainer was also injecting
horses with snake venom and
using concoctions called “milk
shakes” in efforts to improve
horses’ performance during races.
In addition, the Grand Jury heard
testimony that another trainer
permitted the grooms and exer-
cise riders who worked for her to
administer shocks to horses to get
them to run faster. That trainer,
the Grand Jury found, had been
“romantically involved” with
another trainer at Penn National,
David Wells.
The drama didn’t end with
that 2011 Grand Jury report.
And neither did the duplicity. In
December, 2014 Wells him-
self pleaded guilty to drugging
horses at Penn National. He and
three others—two trainers and a
clocker—were arrested after an
Rapid Redux, now retired at Old Friends, a Kentucky retirement facility for Thoroughbreds, won a spe-
cial Eclipse Award in 2011. He tied Citation’s record of 19 wins in a single year, and surpassed the North
American record of 19 consecutive victories, a rare status enjoyed by Zenyatta and Pepper’s Pride. Rapid
Redux was one of the horses trained by David Wells, who pleaded guilty to drugging horses in December.
Despite Guilty Pleas, Investigations Continue at Penn National
investigation by Pennsylvania
State Police, the Racing Commis-
sion and the FBI. Wells was the
trainer for 2011 Eclipse Award
Winner Rapid Redux.
The Investigation Continues
Wells, along with trainers
Patricia Anne Rogers and Samuel
Webb and the track clocker Daniel
Robertson are the most recent
pedestrians on what is becoming
a very crowded walk of shame
in Grantville. In exchange for his
guilty plea, federal charges against
Wells were dismissed, although
he still faces possible jail time.
His sentencing was scheduled
for late January. Charges against
Webb have been dismissed, and
in early January Rogers was still
involved in plea bargaining. Her
trial is set to commence in March.
The clocker was fined $1,250 and
placed on probation.
The story is not over, how-
ever, and further indictments may
be in the offing. According to the
FBI the investigation continues,
and the U.S. Attorney’s office in
Harrisburg has thus refused to
comment on what sparked the
investigation in the first place.
Eric Johnston, the Director
of Racing Operations at Penn Na-
tional confirmed that the inves-
tigation is ongoing, but says he
has no knowledge of its focus. He
said that some changes had been
made at the race track, though. “I
do know there have been some
changes to the procedures for the
clocker. Everything he does is
monitored. There are actually two
people who work on the clocking
system, and now there’s a third
person involved. They’d have to
do a whole lot of scheming to do
that again,” he says.
Johnston has been at Penn
National in Grantville since April,
when he was transferred from
Penn National’s Sam Houston
Race Park in Houston, TX. He
understands how damaging
these criminal activities are to
the organization’s reputation and
profitability. “Any time you have
something like that come out, it’s
going to have a negative effect on
the product,” he explains. “We’re
more regulated and tested now
and I would probably be willing to
guess there is more stuff going on
in other sports. We don’t believe
in brushing them (violations) un-
der the rug by any means. We’re
as transparent as we can be.” He
says that there is zero tolerance
for the kinds of activities that have
garnered headlines recently.
“We’re serious. We’re not here
just to go with the flow. We’re here
to improve racing. If you’re not on
board with that, then you’re out.
Have a nice life.” He says that the
management at Penn National is
doing everything they can to make
it difficult for cheaters.
Enforcement Muscle
Runs Low on Cash
Pennsylvania’s horse racing
industry was foundering before
the legislature passed the Gaming
Act of 2004, which set the stage
for the casino industry. By law,
12 per cent of slots revenue goes
to the horse racing industry, and
the slots revenue triggered larger
purses, breeders’ incentives and a
future that looked as brilliant and
unbridled as…well…Unbridled.
(Continued on page 13)
New president says rumors unfounded, Devon
will stay at Devon…pg. 31
Help! My boyfriend is jealous of my horse…pg. 30
Standout TBs of 2014 gear up for another
season…pg. 4
Tips fromNew Bolton on caring for horses in
cold weather…pg. 29
... and much more!
Barns, Arenas & Footing
feature ... pgs. 10 - 25
Photo by Rick Capone
1 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,...32
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