October 2017 Issue - page 4

Page 4
October 2017
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
By Suzanne Bush
“What has happened in Penn-
sylvania recently is disgraceful and
sad, especially when you consider
that the state is the sixth leading
producer of foals and that it hosted
approximately 4,000 races and
distributed more than $100 million
in purses in 2016.” That was The
Jockey Club Chairman Stuart Jan-
ney III, speaking at the 2017 Jock-
ey Club Round Table Conference
in Saratoga in August. Not exactly
a stellar endorsement of Pennsylva-
nia’s horseracing industry.
Among the events Janney
was referring to was the trial
of Penn National-based trainer
Murray Rojas. She was accused
of numerous violations, including
illegally administering banned
drugs to horses within 24 hours of
races, and conspiring with veteri-
narians to back-date prescriptions
and thus create the appearance that
she was complying with the laws
pertaining to the administration of
certain drugs. In addition, she was
accused of administering drugs
without the written or verbal di-
rection of a licensed veterinarian.
Rojas was tried in Federal
court, because the races in which
her horses ran were simulcast and
bets were placed on the horses
from outside Pennsylvania. So,
in addition to the violations of
the state’s racing rules, she was
also charged with wire fraud,
conspiracy to commit mail fraud,
misbranding of prescriptions and
conspiracy to defraud. In July
the jury convicted her of the drug
charges, but found her not guilty
of the wire fraud and conspira-
cy charges. Both Rojas and her
attorney considered this a victory,
since she will not face jail time.
Rojas’ case was unfortunate-
ly not an outlier. It was merely
the most recent. In 2016 Parx
Racing banned trainer Ramon
Preciado from the track after sev-
eral horses in his care tested pos-
itive for Clenbuterol. Stephanie
Beattie, another trainer at Penn
National, testified at Rojas’ trial
that she and nearly all trainers at
Penn National routinely drugged
horses. Beattie, Rojas and Rojas’
husband Eduardo have now been
banned from Penn National.
New Rules Aim to
Change the Landscape
In Saratoga Janney summed
up Pennsylvania’s embarrassing
state of affairs in a withering
rebuke. “Uncontradicted testimony
described widespread, in fact, near-
ly universal, cheating; regulators
asleep on the job; a corrupted and
ineffectual testing system.” While it
looks like the industry has a tough
road ahead, Pennsylvania’s Horse
Racing Commission (PHRC) has
created new rules targeting the
most egregious problems.
Earlier this year the PHRC
launched an out-of-competition
testing program similar to those in
neighboring states. The program
is meant to ensure the integrity
of horse racing in Pennsylvania
Under Fire, PA
Horseracing
Initiates Out-of-
Competition Testing
(Continued on page 11)
Wounds Fungus Thrush
Scratches White-Line
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