USA: Harness trainer accused of 1,700 drug violations

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By Nicholas Godfrey
Racing Post

USA: America’s harness racing world has been left reeling with the news that one of its leading trainers stands accused of more than 1,700 drugs violations over a 28-month period.

Luis Pena, leading trainer at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in 2010 and 2011, has been suspended pending a hearing on May 30 amid allegations that he amassed a total of 1,719 transgressions in 675 races between January 2010 and April 2012 at Meadowlands and Yonkers in New York.

Harness racing, also known as Standardbred racing or trotting, is widespread in the States, though it is generally regarded as the poor relation of thoroughbred racing.

Pena, second in prize-money earnings nationally in 2011, is alleged to have used as many as 14 banned substances on his horses, including prohibited hormones and steroids.

His case is unusual in several aspects, not least in that his horses did not produce any positive post-race tests. Rather, the alleged violations came tolight after scrutiny of veterinary records in an unprecedented joint investigation by the authorities in New York and New Jersey.

Pena, who was not granted a licence to train at Meadowlands in 2012, faces a hearing under the heading ‘fraud and misrepresentation’ and is likely to have his licence revoked if he is found guilty.

Each transgression carries a maximum penalty of $25,000 – but he could also forfeit $2.5 million in prize-money.

According to the New York Times, Pena denies any wrongdoing. “I’ve never had a positive test ever,” said Pena. “I’m the token brown boy who everyone and their mother wants to talk about. It’s racism, dude.”

View the original article at the Racing Post

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