Paul Fontaine, president of Harness Tracks of America, today released the following statement outlining the association’s position with respect to recent events in racing involving alleged medication violations and enforcement of racing regulations:
In light of highly publicized recent events in horse racing and with continuing dedication to the importance of personal and professional integrity in the harness racing industry, Harness Tracks of America, an association of the finest harness racetracks in North America, endorses and reaffirms its position that the rules of racing in each jurisdiction should be enforced to their maximum effect and in a fair, thorough and balanced manner.
The allegations by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board (“NYSRWB”) against trainer Lou Pena have given rise to comments in the media and in private comments to racetrack management questioning whether the type of behavior publicly revealed to date against Mr. Pena is commonplace in all horseracing. In the Pena case, veterinary records were used to provide a basis for determining whether violations of the rules of racing were committed. The issues related to and raised by the current NYSRWB action — adequate access to veterinary treatment information, the efficacy of drug testing procedures, employing all investigative techniques legally available, and the strict adherence to the letter as well as the spirit of the rules of racing, to mention but a few — highlight the importance of the vigilant regulation and personal responsibility necessary for harness racing to thrive. If a racing regulation proscribes administration of certain medications within a given time prior to a race – 48 hours, 72 hours, 96 hours or any other time – those rules, like all others, should be strictly and uniformly enforced, and the means to enforce those rules, if inadequate, should be developed and promulgated.
The ability of the horse racing industry to prosper and grow in the future depends in large part upon public confidence and the knowledge that racing is committed to making the integrity of its product and of those associated with “putting on the show” of paramount importance. In an effort to continue providing quality wagering products and ever-better patron experiences, the member racetracks of Harness Tracks of America reaffirm their support for efforts to ensure the integrity of harness racing and call upon all those who participate in the industry to make the integrity of the game and the thorough enforcement of the rules under which racing operates central to their mission.