by Jeff Gural
I read (USTA chairman) Joe Faraldo’s comments on the federal legislation and how dedicated the USTA is to eliminate illegal drugs (full story here).
I would just like to remind him that when I was trying to alert the industry that there was going to be a scandal (USTA president) Russell (Williams) told me to shut up. The two leading trainers at Yonkers — a track which you, Joe, control — were both arrested and charged with using illegal medication. Both of these trainers have been banned from my tracks since 2013, and I doubt it was a shock to anyone except you that they were arrested.
As I recall, Pat Lachance recently responded to a question of why his horses were so much more competitive now than before by alluding to the fact that illegal drugs were not as prevalent at Yonkers than they used to.
It is fairly obvious that changes need to be made in the (HISA) legislation, but from the letter that appeared recently it does not seem that the USTA’s position or yours is the same as the vast majority of the major owners, breeders and veterinarians.
I think it would be better if you kept a low profile as I do not believe that your previous actions indicate how concerned you are about this issue. Worse yet, one of the trainers arrested was training some of your horses.
Editor’s note: In further, related news, the Meadowlands released the following statement on Saturday morning (March 20):
Big M retains Five Stones Intelligence to clean up harness racing
With the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) still in development, Jeff Gural, the president of The Meadowlands, has retained the services of Five Stones Intelligence, Inc. to help maintain the integrity of the sport at all Gural properties, including Vernon and Tioga Downs.
“Our goal is to maintain a level playing field,” said Gural. “Trainers using drugs may be welcome to race at other tracks, but not at my properties.” The Meadowlands is taking a “no excuses” approach and is currently working with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office to uncover the use of illegal medications.
Jeff Gural offers thanks to The Jockey Club, The Red Mile and the Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association of New Jersey for their partnership and funding.
Any tracks interested in joining the effort may email Jason Settlemoir at Jsettlemoir@playmeadowlands.com.
— Shades Demsky / Meadowlands media relations