02/11/2016 5:28PM

Giwner: The facts behind the Glaucine drug rumors

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Often enough Harness Racing has me scratching my head. Reading the potentially devastating “news” that prominent trainers Ron Burke and Julie Miller along with up to nine other conditioners had horses test positive for the substance Glaucine was somewhat surreal.

I say “news” because the facts in this case seem to be very sketchy from all sides. The article which broke the story provides very little in the way of concrete evidence though ultimately appears to have gotten the basics correct.

Is Glaucine, which has bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects, an illegal drug? I posed that question to the NY Gaming Commission and the answer is yes since it is not specifically permitted by the Commission’s rules.

The Gaming Commission would not confirm or deny whether any trainers were found to have used Glaucine or any other drug in this case. Director of Communications Lee Park relayed that the Commission does not comment on rumors but added, “When a positive of any substance is found, there is a process that does involve informing the trainer of the horse.”

After speaking with multiple people in the industry and doing additional research, the facts as I see them are as follows:

►         Some trainers were contacted by a racing official informing them that their horses tested positive for Glaucine.

►         No trainers have been fined or suspended at this point.

►         According to Harnessracing.com, attorney Howard Taylor was retained by several trainers to fight the allegations.

Burke, who led the sport in training wins (984) and earnings ($24,944,164) in 2015, did not return my calls.

Meadowlands Operator Jeff Gural, a vocal opponent in the fight against drugging horses, uses Julie Miller as one of his trainers and had the following comments:

“I believe at least 8 trainers had horses test positive for the drug but nothing official has come out,” said Gural via email while vacationing in St. John. “Both Julie and Ronnie called me to vigorously deny the allegations and they claim that there is clear science to indicate the presence of Glaucine in the environment, like feed or shavings, and they intend to fight these charges.

“I just sent an e-mail to NY asking for more information and who else is involved. Additionally, I told Brice (Cote, investigator) to ask around and see what he can find out and to see if Dr Wan could test the samples he has of Burke's horses and any horses I own that Julie trained to see if they show Glaucine."

Gural added that all trainers involved would be in good standing at The Meadowlands until the NY Gaming Commission issues an official announcement.

The bottom line as I see it is that we live in the United States where people are innocent until proven guilty. I find it particularly annoying to read posts on social media damning the accused when the facts are still so sparse. By the same token, if any trainers are found to have acted outside the law, they should be open to criticism and punishment. One step at a time.

[Editor's note: Below is a full statement just issued by Meadowlands Operator Jeff Gural on the issue.]

Although I am currently on vacation, I have been made aware that apparently several trainers at Yonkers Raceway including Julie Miller and Ron Burke have had horses test positive for glaucine. As you know, Ms. Miller trains several horses for me and Mr. Burke trains Gural Hanover, a horse of which I am a part-owner. Both trainers have already called me and vigorously denied the accusations.

At this point, I am unaware if any official action has been taken by the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) or Yonkers Raceway. I have reached out to officials at the NYGC in an effort to receive more information about the nature of the tests so that we can do our own analysis and draw our own conclusions. I want to be clear; we plan to see what actions, if any, are taken by the NYGC and Yonkers Raceway before we do anything.

In addition, representatives of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) contacted me and have strongly suggested that all of the trainers involved be given their due process rights before any action is taken by my racetracks. The SBOANJ re-affirmed their support for our strong stance on integrity.

As such, until an official announcement has been made by the NYGC, Ms. Miller, Mr. Burke, and other trainers whose horses received positive tests that are otherwise in good standing at our three facilities, will be able to race their horses at the Meadowlands.

I have directed our own investigator to immediately reach out to Dr. Wan in Hong Kong to see if we can have the many samples we have previously taken from horses trained by Mr. Burke and horses I own that were trained by Ms. Miller to see if glaucine was present in any of those samples. I believe that New York will make the methods used to test for glaucine available to Hong Kong. We are also waiting to see if any other horses in New York test positive for glaucine to see if there is any common element involved, such as the same veterinarians, same feed, same shavings, or the same legitimate feed supplements.