01/26/2015 2:39PM

New York completes Asmussen investigation


The New York Gaming Commission has completed an investigation into allegations made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals against the trainer Steve Asmussen, officials of the commission said on Monday, with a report on the probe expected soon.

Dr. Scott Palmer, the equine medical director for the commission, said that commission officials reviewed “nearly eight hours of videotape” and “hundreds of pages of notes” provided by PETA as part of its claims against Asmussen. PETA made the claims in March of last year after posting a 9 1/2-minute video on the internet from footage filmed by an employee in Asmussen’s barn who was secretly recording video on behalf of the organization during a four-month period in 2013.

PETA has said the video and its notes provide evidence of widespread mistreatment of horses in Asmussen’s barn. PETA also provided audio recordings of employees and other racing participants discussing the use of electrical devices on horses, and it said its transcripts of some conversations of Asmussen employees revealed evidence of using undocumented labor.

Two weeks ago, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission released a report about its own investigation into PETA’s claims. The report exonerated Asmussen and was harshly critical of PETA’s tactics. The Kentucky report said that PETA provided the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissionwith a total of 30 minutes of edited video, but refused to hand over a larger trove of video footage. PETA also did not respond to a subpoena for the footage the organization claimed to have.

Palmer said the New York report will be presented to commission members before it is released to the public. It is not clear when commission staff expects to finish the report.

Also at the meeting on Monday, the commission amended its Thoroughbred out-of-competition testing rule to include any substance “capable of abnormally enhancing the oxygenation of body tissues.” According to commission officials, the new language will prohibit the administration of cobalt, a mineral that has been rumored to be widely abused in both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing for its purported ability to act like a blood-doping agent.

In addition, Robert Williams, the gambling commission’s executive director, said at the meeting that the commission has been “gravely concerned and is thoroughly investigating” a recent spate of catastrophic injuries at Aqueduct racetrack. The commission is gathering data on the breakdowns and examining necropsy reports to attempt to identify risk factors for horses, Williams said.

Williams also said that the commission’s Equine Safety Review Board has begun to meet weekly, rather than monthly, in order to discuss the issues surrounding the breakdowns. The commission is also expected to put in place new protocols to investigate catastrophic breakdowns at New York tracks, Williams said. 


Claudia Malloy More than 1 year ago
I have been around horses for my entire life. I trained many breeds including thoroughbreds and standardbreds for over 30 years. Everybody in the business knows that if you force young horses to run beyond their ability by whipping them until blood gushes from their noses, you are doing something wrong. Injecting horses with pain killers so that they will run is also wrong - as a matter of fact, both of these things are criminal acts. Blasi, Asmussen and a lot of other trainers, owners and jockeys belong in jail. Ag.& Mkts law Art. 26 - 361 states that "Any interference or tampering with a racehorse is a FELONY" . Police belong on racetracks - these people should not be policing themselves - too many of them are corrupt. Over 120 horses were killed on racetracks in NYS alone last year for a $2.00 bet - go to horseracingwrongs.com.
Greg Howes More than 1 year ago
At least one of the comments on here SHOULD be that if they cant catch someone red handed on a video tape (which they didn't) that was being illegally and secretly obtained - AND failed to hand over the full volume of tapes for perspective / transparency - it seems clear Asmussen must do a hell of a lot more right in this game than any cynic would allow for - to his credit and to his barn's credit. I get PETA and as an animal lover, I appreciate what they stand for. But a witch hunt and this kind of covert behavior especially when it doesn't yield a smoking gun is pretty pathetic IMO. Not saying Asmussen or racing is squeaky clean, just that there have to be better ways to clean it up, no? More on the level and ultimately more effective - to include without libeling someone who in the end was exonerated.
Mark Deckert More than 1 year ago
Greg, this IS PETA, they don't do anything of real value to "help" animals. Their funding provides euthanasia to cats and dogs as well as give themselves a lavish lifestyle. They are disgusting organization aside from this low life tactic against horse racing, which they are vehemently against. Any $ given to them is thrown down a rat hole.
Joseph Brown More than 1 year ago
Horse racing is a dirty game now, you would have to be crazy to put one dime in this game now.
Michael Amoruso More than 1 year ago
I agree with that
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
Did the kentucky and new york commissions find out that roman was caught with an electric chapa stick on an asmussen horse in 2007 ?
mike More than 1 year ago
He will always be a troll.
cherney19 More than 1 year ago
You want people to come back to racing, all drugs must be banned and the cheating trainers must get at least 1 year suspension for their first time. The second time banned for life. Clean up the sport and the fans will come back.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
I disagree - I think ZERO TOLERANCE should be enforced. We are talking about a sport where the participants do not get to chose what meds are administered, therefore, we must protect them vigorously.