NYRA president/CEO Charles Hayward.

NYRA president/CEO Charles Hayward.

Barbara Livingston

NYRA to Begin Milkshake Testing; Cuts Signal to Four Wagering Sites

The New York Racing Association announced Tuesday that it is terminating its simulcast agreements with the four active wagering sites named in an 88-count indictment from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and that it will soon begin post-race testing for "milkshaking."

The sites being terminated by NYRA are: Euro Off-Track, located on the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom, International Racing Group, Inc. and Elite Turf Club, both located on Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, and Tonkawa Indian Reservation in Oklahoma.

The fifth site named in the New York case, Racing Services, Inc. in North Dakota, is separately under indictment and is no longer in operation.

"In addition to this immediate action, NYRA is undertaking an aggressive and expedited review of a number of selected secondary pari-mutuel organizations," said NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward. "We will take decisive action in an ongoing effort to ensure that access to our pari-mutuel pools passes the strictest test of transparency and integrity. We fully understand that the economic impact of this decision will be damaging to our bottom line, but the integrity of NYRA's pari-mutuel pools leaves no room for compromise."

NYRA also announced that it is developing post-race testing for "milkshaking" in conjunction with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and Dr. George Maylin of Cornell University, an expert in equine drug testing and pharmacology. The program is scheduled to commence in early February.

"NYRA is widely recognized for the best Thoroughbred racing in North America and it is incumbent on us that the integrity of our racing is also of the highest quality," said Hayward. "Any violation to this new testing procedure will be met with stiff punishment."

"Milkshaking" is the administration of sodium bicarbonate, typically through a tube, directly into a horse's stomach, NYRA explained in a press release, noting "the practice is considered to enhance a horse's performance."

NYRA said the tests will be run under NYRA rules developed by NYRA veterinarians in consultation with Maylin and the state regulatory board.

"Penalties for trainers whose horses test positive for high levels of bicarbonate will be severe, though they have not yet been finalized," the statement said.

Trainer Greg Martin, who was named in the indictment, has had his privileges suspended by NYRA and the racing and wagering board has suspended his license. The NYRA statement said the board of stewards immediately scratched Martin-trained horses entered to race at Aqueduct in the two subsequent days after the indictment was announced. "NYRA has ordered Martin off its grounds and has instructed that his horses be assigned to unaffiliated new trainers or be removed from the premises," the statement said.

On Tuesday, Martin and the others indicted, pleaded innocent.