Industry Groups Ask for Change in Parx Oaks Ruling
Photo: Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO
Miss Inclusive finishes first in 2016 Parx Oaks

Raising integrity concerns for bettors and potential long-term impact on future assessments by breeders and buyers, major industry groups are requesting the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission change its decision to recognize two winners of the 2016 Parx Oaks.

The Jockey Club, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the North American International Cataloguing Standards Committee have sent letters to Tom Chuckas, director, Pennsylvania Bureau of Horse Racing, State Horse Racing Commission, requesting the regulator change its May 19 decision that recognizes Miss Inclusive and Eighth Wonder as the winners of the $100,000 Parx Oaks from May 7, 2016 at Parx Racing.

The commission is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m., June 28 at its Harrisburg, Pa. offices. A draft version of the agenda for the June 28 meeting did not include any discussion of its May decision to recognize two winners of the race, but that draft agenda is subject to change without notice.

The PSHRC decision to recognize two winners of the race was a compromise following an initial decision to disqualify Miss Inclusive, who finished first by a half-length, for a post-race clenbuterol positive. Major industry groups said the regulator's current decision to recognize two winners is problematic.

"The commission's decision of having two winners, without a dead heat and one in which the first two horses finished a half-length apart, defies established integrity standards and transparency upon which Thoroughbred racing and breeding has long operated," said TOBA president Dan Metzger in a letter updated June 26. "Our global sport is predicated on the fundamental and accepted rules of racing, which require there be only one winner (except in the case of a dead heat), which was not the case in the 2016 Parx Oaks. Additionally, listing the third- and fourth-place finishers as second- and third-place horses is not only misleading and confusing, but factually inaccurate.  

"We are aware of the difficult complexities you encountered with the order of finish for the 2016 Parx Oaks, but legal expediency should never undermine the integrity of our sport, which extends far beyond the racetrack. We respectfully request that the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission reverse this decision and declare one winner of the race, either Miss Inclusive or Eighth Wonder."

Main Line Racing Stable and Joshtylane Farm's Miss Inclusive—trained by John Servis—initially was disqualified for testing positive for clenbuterol and Gryphon Investments' Eighth Wonder was elevated to first and the $60,000 winner's share of the purse was redistributed. Servis was handed a 15-day suspension.

But after considering an argument from Servis's attorney who pointed out that the positive was at a concentration below levels recommended by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the Pennsylvania regulator ruled that, "Miss Inclusive shall be deemed to have finished first along with the horse Eighth Wonder, for the purpose of both maintaining each horse's racing record and determining each horse's eligibility to enter in future races; the forfeiture of the purse will remain in effect and the redistribution of the purse will stand and the 15-day suspension shall be modified to a $5,000 fine."

A Jockey Club letter from president Jim Gagliano, dated June 14, said it's important that the precedent not become an option for other regulators to resolve medication cases.

"In essence, it seems like the commission has made an arbitrary change to the order of finish, which sets a harmful precedent for the adjudication of future medication overages," Gagliano said. "It has also damaged the image and integrity of our sport, not only in Pennsylvania but in the other 37 jurisdictions in this country where Thoroughbred racing takes place."

A June 16 letter from NAICSC chairman Carl Hamilton said the commission's decision would negatively impact information provided in sale catalogs.

"The first three finishers in approved races receive black-type in sales catalogs. The first-place horse is recognized as the winner and the second- and third-place horses are recognized as placed. This international standard is accepted world-wide and the importance of the proper recognition of black-type cannot be understated as it plays a key role in the conduct of Thoroughbred sales," Hamilton said. "The commission's decision of having two winners without a dead heat, as well as moving the third-place finisher to second and fourth-place finisher to third, misrepresents black-type in sales catalogs by designating two winners and includes four horses in the first three positions. This artificial manipulation of the results is misleading, confusing, and factually incorrect."

The three letters appear below.
 

The Jockey Club letter

Mr. Tom Chuckas
Director, Bureau of Horse Racing 
State Horse Racing Commission
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
2301 North Cameron Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Dear Tom,

As the breed registry for Thoroughbreds in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, The Jockey Club (as well as its affiliated organizations) strives on a daily basis to maintain the integrity of The American Stud Book and all statistics pertaining to Thoroughbred breeding and racing.

That is why I am writing to voice our strong objection to the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission's recent decision to declare two winners of the 2016 Parx Oaks. 

This unprecedented ruling in regard to the fillies Miss Inclusive and Eighth Wonder has already caused significant confusion regarding the official Equibase chart of the race, and it is sure to have further ramifications in the areas of breeding and bloodstock sales.

•         How can a bettor reading past performances be expected to comprehend that a race had two winners when the chart will clearly reveal it was not a dead-heat?

•         How can a stallion owner accurately assess the quality and racing history of these fillies if someone wants to breed them to one of his stallions?

•         And how can a prospective buyer of those two fillies, or any of their eventual progeny, feel confident about the details listed on their respective catalog pages?

In essence, it seems like the commission has made an arbitrary change to the order of finish, which sets a harmful precedent for the adjudication of future medication overages.

It has also damaged the image and integrity of our sport, not only in Pennsylvania but in the other 37 jurisdictions in this country where Thoroughbred racing takes place.

On behalf of The Jockey Club, I respectfully encourage the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission to include a reconsideration of this decision as an agenda item for its June 28, 2017 meeting with the hope that it will ultimately alter its decision and declare one official winner of the 2016 Parx Oaks. 

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or would like to discuss this matter further.

Sincerely,

James L. Gagliano
President and Chief Operating Officer
The Jockey Club

 

North American International Cataloguing Standards Committee (NAICSC) letter

June 16, 2017

Mr. Tom Chuckas
Thoroughbred Bureau Director
State Horse Racing Commission
2301 N. Cameron Street
Room 304           
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Dear Mr. Chuckas:

I am writing on behalf of the North American International Cataloguing Standards Committee (NAICSC) to express our concern with the action taken by the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission with regard to the official order of finish for the 2016 Parx Oaks. NAICSC establishes the requirements for non-Listed races in North America that receive black-type in sales catalogues that are compliant with guidelines required by the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA).

The first three finishers in approved races receive black-type in sales catalogues. The first place horse is recognized as the winner and the second and third place horses are recognized as placed. This international standard is accepted world-wide and the importance of the proper recognition of black-type cannot be understated as it plays a key role in the conduct of Thoroughbred sales. The Commission's decision of having two winners without a dead heat, as well as moving the third place finisher to second and fourth place finisher to third, misrepresents black-type in sales catalogues by designating two winners and includes four horses in the first three positions. This artificial manipulation of the results is misleading, confusing and factually incorrect.

NAICSC respectfully requests that the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission reverse the decision for the 2016 Parx Oaks and declare one winner of the race. The current decision which designates two winners without a dead heat and four horses in the top three positions misrepresents the outcome of the race and related black-type in sales catalogues.

Thank you for your consideration of our request and please contact me if you wish to discuss this in further detail. 

Yours sincerely,

Carl Hamilton
Chairman, NAICSC


TOBA Letter
June 9, 2017 (updated 6/26/17)

Mr. Tom Chuckas
Thoroughbred Bureau Director
State Horse Racing Commission
2301 N. Cameron Street
Room 304
Harrisburg, PA  17110
 
Dear Mr. Chuckas:

We are writing you to express our official opposition to the course of action taken by the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission with respect to the official order of finish for the 2016 Parx Oaks. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), through its American Graded Stakes Committee, assigns graded and listed status to all eligible stakes races in the Unites States and has done so since its founding in 1973.  In addition, the International Cataloguing Standards Committee, of which TOBA is a member, is responsible for establishing black type standards for stakes races in North America. This extraordinary and unprecedented decision by the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission to make Miss Inclusive the co-winner of the race is misleading not only to the racing industry participants and its fan base, but also other significant stakeholders in the breeding and public and private sales segments of our sport.

The Commission's decision of having two winners, without a dead heat and one in which the first two horses finished a half-length apart, defies established integrity standards and transparency upon which Thoroughbred racing and breeding has long operated.   Our global sport is predicated on the fundamental and accepted rules of racing, which require there be only one winner (except in the case of a dead heat), which was not the case in the 2016 Parx Oaks.  Additionally, listing the third and fourth place finishers as second and third place horses is not only misleading and confusing, but factually inaccurate.

We are aware of the difficult complexities you encountered with the order of finish for the 2016 Parx Oaks, but legal expediency should never undermine the integrity of our sport, which extends far beyond the racetrack.  We respectfully request that the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission reverse this decision and declare one winner of the race, either Miss Inclusive or Eighth Wonder.

TOBA takes its responsibility of maintaining the highest levels of integrity to the racing and breeding industries very seriously.  By artificially manipulating the results of this race, the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission has introduced a precedent which undermines the credibility of our sport.  

Thank you for your consideration of our request and please contact me if you wish to discuss this in further detail.
  
Yours sincerely,
Dan Metzger

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