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Cobalt Epidemic Has Horse Race Industry In A Flux: Will Regulators Ever Assert Their Definitive Authority?

By Warren Eves

Runaway cobalt use in horse racing is a dichotomy.

There is absolutely no doubt “a division contrast between two things that are represented as being opposed” exists.  If you’re willing to delve into this complex issue it’s likely you will conclude neither side on this issue stands on firm ground.

Months ago Racing Victoria’s chief DVM Brian Stewart said he would not be able to comment on Australia’s cobalt issues until all ongoing cases are decided. Stewart has been a a prime go to source over a period of years. The fact I was being stonewalled told me something was amiss.  It was!

The cobalt chloride issue snowballed.

I began gathering stories, news releases and cobalt data. Our file swelled, sending us in a myriad of directions.

Cobalt chloride is a low-cost water soluble compound traditionally used to treat anaemia.  In 2005 blood doping was emerging. Some claimed the naturally-occurring element with properties similar to iron and nickel, induced a marked polycythemic response through a more efficient transcription of the erythropoietin gene.  Erythropoietin is a glycoprotein hormone secreted ‘mainly’ by the kidney which acts on stem cells of the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cells.

On March 30, 2005  the team of Giuseppe Lippi, Massimo Franchini and Gian Cesare Guidi wrote “Cobalt chloride administration in athletes: a new perspective in blood doping?” on the pages of Sports Med.  ”Although there is as yet no direct or ancedotal evidence of cobalt chloride administration to athletes, its use should be warned against as being not only unfair but potentially dangerous.” they wrote.  ”This low cost, water soluble compound may be an attractive, less challenging, and equally effective means of boosting endogenous erythropoietin production.”

In layman’s terms what are we talking about? Exogenous erythropoietin is produced by recombinant DNA technology in cell culture.  It has been used illicityly as a performance enhancing drug.”(source: Wikipedia).

On July 24, 2006 the same Lippi-led team wrote on Bio Med Central: “Blood doping by cobalt. Should we measure cobalt in athletes?”  They concluded: “More research on cobalt metabolism in athletes is compelling, along with implementation of effective strategies to unmask this potentially deleterious doping practice.”  Under the sub title of ‘Testing the hypothesis’ they wrote: “Excessive cobalt in blood impairs thyroid activity and myocardial function, promoting carcinogenesis(the process by which normal blood cells become cancer cells).”

The Lippi follow up report went on to say: “An area of major controversy is the ’sports supplement’ industry, which is poorly regulated when compared with prescription drugs, but yet is a potential source of doping violations.  Cobalt is not mentioned in the WADA prohibited list.”  This was a 2006 report.

It’s factual to conclude cobalt use in sport nine years ago was clouded. Clinical experts did not have a handle on it.  Badly needed mandates in regard to illegal use of the substance were nowhere in sight.  This is something I’ve been complaining about since co-authoring a minority report with Terry Turrell on California horse racing in 1976. Finely tuned mandates, with language that leaves no doubt as to penalties, are hard to find.  Turrell and I pleaded with California authorities to refine many weakly written rules.  We’re still waiting.

Cheaters have a storied history of in your face behavior when it comes to pushing the envelope. Medicating equines for a competitive edge has been enabled by a spineless authority out West known as the California Horse Racing Board.  Their chief DVM Rick Arthur talks like an enforcer.  His bark rarely has bite. Bob “Baffy” Baffert, racing’s silver-haired poster boy, had seven sudden death” issues(2012-2014) in Southern California.  THYRO-L(levothyroxine) was well documented on the pages of  Tuesday’s Horse: “Deadly to Horses: The Baffert Effect–Part 2 by Jane Allin on Jan., 8, 2014.

“Baffert administered Thyro-L to “ALL” of his horses regardless of their thyroid function using it as a supplement rather than medication,” Allin wrote.  ”Thyro-L was so routinely prescribed it was dispensed to one of the sudden death victims a week after he had died.  What is also lacking in sensibility is Baffert’s alleged reason for administering thyroxine to his horses.  Arthur added Baffert said he used the hormone to ‘build up‘ his horses, but the thyroid hormone is used for the opposite, to assist weight loss, Arthur said.  He called Baffert’s comment ’surprising.”  The latter statement by Arthur would be a gross understatement in the opinion of most.

There’s a pattern of horsemen utilizing supplements, all the while claiming it’s an attempt to boost equine well-being.  Or do they have other motives, like the well documented issues in cycling?

Ms. Allin took issue with DVM Arthur’s comments and his lame Baffert inquiry findings: “Who does he think he is kidding?  And what is wrong with the CHRB and medication rules in North American racing overall?

Jeff Gural, the owner of The Meadowlands, made news on Jan., 8, 2014 on the cobalt issue.  ”We are committed to providing the most integrity-driven product in harness racing,” Gural said in a Day At the Races story by Jerry Bossert. Admirably, The Meadowlands had been conducting out of competition testing on horses, for over a year.  Interestingly samples were analyzed by the lab at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

A large number of samples revealed the presence of cobalt and in two cases, there were massive amounts present when samples were analyzed by the lab at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Gural told two trainers they were no longer allowed to race at Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs or at The Meadowlands.

On Feb., 3, 2014 the first edition of the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia ran a 621 word story by Patrick Bartley. The headline: “Stewards struggling to stop use of new drug.”  The second paragraph read: “Racing investigators have to use non-equine laboratories or overseas testing facilities to charge trainers found using cobalt chloride. And stewards are unable to charge trainers with the use of the substance because the appropriate threshold levels are still being considered.”  Racing Victoria’s chief steward Terry Bailey said they had been tipped off a year before.  Bartley made reference to the futile probe of Baffert’s seven “sudden death” issues.  Bartley wrote: “An initial investigation and autopsies did not reveal anything suspicious and Baffert was cleared of any wrong doing, but there were reports that tissues from some of the dead horses have been sent for testing for heavy metals including cobalt.”  Past performance lines on Rick Arthur most likely are not going to find him revealing anything that would scar the image of his friend “Baffy.”  Did we ever see a follow up from DVM Arthur on the heavy metal concerns?  No!

Bartley’s lead paragraph stated Aussie racing authorities feared that a dangerous new drug that stimulates the body to produce more of the hormone erythropoitin(or EPO) was being used.  ”Excess EPO has been linked with the deaths of several athletes and cyclists since the 1980s,” wrote Bartley.  ”The cause of death was reported as a heart attack, but the general belief was that excessive EPO produced too many red blood cells, causing the blood to thicken and overload the heart.”

Another story written by Barkley appeared in the Feb., 3, 2014 final edition of the Canberra Times. Positive tests for six using cobalt chloride in New South Wales harness racing were reported.  Barkley went on to say: “Those positive tests prompted officials to rush through a decision on the threshold for the drug, setting it at what some veterinary experts believe as a ‘generous’ 200 micrograms a litre.  In Hong Kong, the threshold is 100mcg.”  The positive tests from NSW were reported in the story to be exceeding 3500mcg. Bartley penned: “One harness racing official said the administration of cobalt chloride to one horse meant ‘he went around the track like a new Lear jet.”

On Oct., 7, 2014 NSW stewards  announced cobalt had been found in 15 raceday swab samples and one non-raceday sample taken from 13 horses trained by Darren Smith.  They said these revelations took place during the period between Feb., 14 and May 21st.

“Cocktail of speed and stamina right mix for Cox Plate” was the headline in the first edition of The Age in Melbourne, Australia on Oct., 25, 2014.  ”The ability to influence acrobic performance has been recognized by sports scientists for decades and is the background to the use–or rather abuse–of substances such as erytheropoietin(EPO) in endurance events,’ wrote one of several veterinarians.  The lead of the story said a lot: “When French jockey Christophe Lemaire was asked to describe horse racing in Australia, he said: “When we come to Australia it’s a matter of speed ahead of stamina, but in France it is stamina ahead of speed.” This simple quote encapsulates many of the differences between Australian racing and breeding when compared with Europe and Japan.”

The New York State Gaming Commission on Sept., 4, 2014 announced there would be a standard 10-year suspension for anyone “who violates the harness racing rule prohibiting the use of substances that abnormally oxygenate a horse’s blood.  It probably was a knee jerk reaction to the influx of cobalt use most likely at the tracks owned and operated by Gural.  The first sentence in the sixth graph of the poorly written rambling news release read:”The Commission’s rule prohibits only the supra-dietary administration of cobalt.”  The remainder of the news release is a perfect example why the cheats have had carte blanche on far too many venues when it comes to cheating.  It was nothing more than a “do not touch” warning.  Pathetic!

In the Racing Medication Testing Consortium’s notes for Friday, Oct., 18, 2014 we noted the “The board declined to act on a cobalt threshold as there was not a consensus recommendation from the SAC.”  A typical of these so-called regulators who are adept at kicking the can down the road.

The Illawarra Mercury headline on Jan., 14, 2015 read: “Moody among Melbourne trainers under investigation.”  Wow!  I was beginning to get the bigger picture of why my cohort DVM Brian Stewart told me he could not be able to comment for some time. “Three leading Melbourne trainers say they are at a loss to explain how horses in their care could have tested positive to elevated levels of cobalt,” wrote Caryl Williamson in her lead. “Over the past two days Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien have all issued statements after being told of the anlyst’s findings of cobalt in excess of the threshold of 200 micrograms per litre of urine.

On Jan., 15, 2015 Racing Victoria’s chief vet, DVM Stewart came forward in a Racing.com feature. Stewart, the most respected DVM in the land in my opinion, indicated either direct administration of cobalt salts or massively contaminated feed or supplements were likely sources for horses testing over the cobalt threshold.  Horses from Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien yards tested positive during the 2014 Spring Carnival.  Five horses under the care of three of Victoria’s best trainers exceeded 200 micrograms of cobalt. Stop and think about this. These are not run of the mill Aussie trainers authorities were talking about.

“Once you get up to 200, it goes into the millions to one of that occurring naturally,” Stewart continued.   “You can’t dismiss the possibility of contamination of feeds, there are precedences of that(HKJC would be one).  I think whenever you have got a substance, which is easily available and easy to administrate which enhances performance, you are always going to have people operating at the edge.”

“Horse cobalt doping scandal spreading” was the lead in a story The Australian printed Jan., 16.  ”A day after scandal engulfed the Victorian racing industry, Racing Queensland’s top steward revealed trainers in this state have been told about a crackdown on the banned drug more than a year ago,” wrote Rachel Baxendale.  ”Amid speculation additional trainers could be implicated, Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey said there were no other cobalt cases on his desk. “We have nothing else outstanding to cobalt,” Bailey said.  ”He ruled out any retrospective testing for cobalt prior to April last year.  Legally, last April 14 is the line in the sand.”

Brandon Cormick wrote in The Australian also on Jan., 15: “the new drug scourage that threatens racing industry. In the days of Phar Lap it was arsenic that was used to help a horse run faster for longer,” he began. “In the 1980s it was ‘elephant juice’ and 10 years later ‘milkshakes’ were used as a making agent for other drugs.  Three of Victoria’s top-1- trainers have five horses between them that have revealed exessively high readings to the blood-doping agent cobalt.  Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate-winning Kavanagh’s Magicool returned an elevated sample to cobalt when he won the UCI Stakes at Flemington on October 4.  Three urine samples, including one belonging to Victoria Derby runner-up Bondeiger, from the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup–winning O’Brien’s operation, caused concern after being tested interstate and international laboratories. There had been rumors circulating through the industry two to three years ago that stables were using ‘gear’ that authorities were unable to detect–the chemist always ahead of the authorities policing the codes.”

On Jan., 18, 2015 they ran a story titled  ”No cobalt positives in Hong Kong” on Racenet.com.au. “Hong Kong Jockey Club officials confirm performance-enhancing levels of cobalt have never been detected there,” Darryl Sherer wrote. Bill Nader, the HKJC’s executive director of racing, said: “We’ve been monitoring background cobalt levels in the horses since 2006 and can easily identify excessive or abnormal levels.”  Hong Kong is one racing entity that has proved it’s possible to stop the cheats if your entityelects do so.

The OTI Racing Newsletter tip-toed around the subject of cobalt while claiming they would fully ’support the actions of the Integrity Department of Racing Victoria.”  They did comment on the veterinarians position in the issue. “Over the past 30 years vets have become an integral part of many training operations.  There has been a cultural shift since the 1980s in favor of their use.  Given the independence by many trainers on their services, one wonders if we have reached the position where vets have far too much influence. To highlight our concerns on this matter, we know that, on average, vet costs in Australia are over four times those of some of the world’s best training stables in France and the U.K. One action worthy of considerationis the appointment of a stable steward from the integrity team to work within each stables.  Such a step would do little in respect to past practices, but it would help confirm that current practices of each of the stables are appropriate.”

When DVM Shiela Lyons was being vocal on these issues, testifying before Congress twice, she pleaded for the factions to get serious about transparency of daily veterinarian treatments. Hong Kong authorities have drawn a line in the sand and stopped the cheats. Hong Kong racing is living proof racing venues can stop cheats.  Racing commissions in the United States continue to waffle on the issue, driven by horsemen factions that claim they can’t do without raceday meds.

Charles Hayward filed one of the more interesting stories on the cobalt issue on Jan., 22: “Swift investigation into Australian cobalt positives only highlights US regulatory inefficiencies.  ”Concerns have been raised about how the thresholds were set, but Australia would seem to be on firm ground in how they developed them (http://www.racing.com/news/2015-01-19/the-cobalt-threshold).  Initially, in 2013, Harness Racing for New South Wales Integrity Manager Reid Sanders became aware of possible cobalt use as a performance-enhancing agent in harness horses.  Sanders conducted research in Australia, the UK, the U.S. and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club has a more stringest threshold level of 100 micrograms per litre(half the Australian threshold), and reportedlyhas never encountered a positive in testing for cobalt since 2006.

“It is important to note, after Australia first undertook research on cobalt in 2013, by Jan., 1, 2015, the entire country had a policy on thresholds in thoroughbreds and harness horses.  While there has been some conjecture, particularly in the U.S., as to how much of a performance enhancing agent cobalt truly is, Australian and Hong Kong authorities believe higher natural levels of cobalt can increase a horse’s performance.

In an article in Australia’s Herald Sun, Matt Stewart referred to the performance ratings assigned to four of five horses in races where they tested positive(http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/superracing/cobalt-crisis-on-the-threshold-of-trugth/story-fnibcgg5-1227186300917); 1) Bondeiger a career best by 3-1/2; 2) De Little Engine a career best by seven lengths; 3) Lidari posted his best race in Australia by a length; 4) Magicool posted career best by 5-1/2.  Caravan Rolls On was the only horse who under performed when finishing eighth.

Hong Kong Jockey Club racing chemist Emmie Ho responded to our inquiry May 7, 2015.  ”Locally, there has never been a single case of excessive cobalt found in urine or blood samples collected from racehorses in Hong Kong,” Ho reported. “The Racing Laboratory of the Hong Kong Jockey Club has been using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry(ICP-MS) in our regular drug testing since 2005, and we have been screening cobalt in horse urine samples since 2006.  These samples are analysed directly with ICP-MS after dilusion with acid, and the concentration of cobalt in each sample is determined by direct comparison with reference to standards analysed at the same time. Our laboratory has been monitoring the non-protein-bound forms of cobalt(present in protein-removed plasma) from horse blood samples since April 2013, and during that year we reported the first cases of excessive cobalt in some blood samples from the USA.”

Interestingly, while the HKJC claims cobalt is a non issue, Australia and the list of USA incidents is alarming.

On February 20, 2015 the Herald Sun published a story about the creation of Australia’s first cobalt-testing laboratory. Racing Analytical Services Limited bought sophisticated testing equipment like an ICP-MS machine.  It came on the heels of an announcement horses from four Victorian trainers returned with high levels of cobalt.  The news of this was reported by Blood-Horse Staff on May 11.  Racing New South Wales in Australia was claiming their new equipment was able to screen “more than 8,000 different types of drugs in any single anlysis of a swab.”  Chief executive Peter V’landys said: “We are absolutely determined to have everyone on a level playing field and that drugs or illegal means don’t determine the outcome of a race.”

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry or ICP-MS is an analytical technique used for elemental determinations.  They are expensive.(according to Blood-Horse 5/11/2015(for AUS$1/5millon($1.185,511 in U.S. funds).

Introduced in 1983, geochemical analysis labs adopted ICP-MS technology because of its superior detection capabilities.  Research chemist Ruth E. Wolf, PhD wrote: “In general it is good practive for the user of the analytical data submitting samples for ICP-MS analysis to discuss the nature of the samples and the data quality required with the ICP-MS operator so that the proper isotopic selction and/or sample preparation methods can be utilized to meet the end user’s needs.”

On March 10 Shane Anderson revealed Sam Kavanagh had become the latest trainer to be “embroiled” in the cobalt saga that was sweeping Australia. Midsummer Sun returned a positive test to caffeine and cobalt above the threshold of 200 micrograms per litre of urine after winning the Gosford Gold Cup on Jan., 9.

Australia’s most successful trainer Chris Waller was front and center on the pages of the Sydney Morning News on March 15th. He went all out to “squash” rumors that his Sydney-based stables was involved.  ”It’s incredible the stories that have gained so much momentum and directed at my operation,” said Waller.  ”Am I upset? Well when you get to the top of your profession, like any sport there will be some difficult times, but these stories are totally without foundation.  I made it clear a long time ago when cobalt was first coming on the scene to go directly to the leading veterinary surgeons at Racing NSW and give them 50 urine samples from my team to be tested. Walk in any time and see that I have 130 horses working in Sydney and 15 in Melbourne and none of them have gone near cobalt.”

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium directors announced they had approved a cobalt threshold after a March 24 confab in Florida.  The RMTC recommendation as follows: (a.) Horses that test above 25 parts per billion(ppb) of cobalt in plasma shall be subject to a fine or a warning for a first offense.  (b.) Horses that test above 50 ppb of cobalt in plasma will be subject a class B penalty which would be disqualification of horse, a fine, and trainer suspension.

On April 9th The Cleveland Plain Dealer quoted Chairman Robert Schmitz: “We believe because high levels of cobalt are a potentially fatal substance and detrimental fo both the equine athlete and to racing, that this is an issue that simply cannot wait for other agencies to act.”  Like in other racing domains it appeared Ohio groups  were also influx in regard to developing fair limits on cobalt in racehorses.  The story claimed standardbred factions want specific rules that pertain to their horses.  Can you say……..a racing system in flux?

During the inquiry on April 29 trainer Jamie McConachy broke down in tears.  Queensland Racing’s first cobalt case began with McConachy claiming the only way his horse Vandalised could have elevated levels of cobalt was via supplements.  ”You know the relationship I have with this horse,” he began. “He’s like family,” he said.

Dr. Bruce Young, from Queenland’s Racing Science Centre, revealed it was only several days prior that the center had been able to screen for abnormal cobalt in horses.  Previously, all samples, including those from Vandalised, had been sent to Western Australia for analysis.

On April 30th embattled trainer Mark Kavanagh lashed out at the Racing Victoria cobalt probe.  For legal reasons Racing.com elected not to publish some of his comments.  Kavanah is adamant that he has done nothing wrong but administer “legal” vitamin supplements.  ”If you’re not given the warnings and there is no way to measure the cobalt that is in these vitamins…how do you know that you’ve even got it?” Kavanagh states.  ”They just pulled the trigger too early here,” he stated in the Racing.com article written by Tom Biddington.

The Morning Bulletin ran a story on April 30th that Queenland’s racing’s inquiry was adjourning until mid May. It’s focus had been on Rockingham trainer Jamie McConachy.  His Vandalised, winner of the $100,000 Rockhampton Cup on June 21, 2014, had analysis return that showed 280 mcg/L urine and 293 mcg mcg/L respectively. McConachy wanted to seek his own equine pharmacologist in order to challenge Paul Mills who tabled the evidence for the Australian Racing Board. Interestingly, that body also ruled that cobalt testing could be undertaken retrospectively.  The results from Perth and then Sydney labs found 280 mcg/L urine and 293 mcg/L urine respectively.

On May 1, on another venue, trainer Lou Pena occupied the pages of Harness Racing Update in connection with sureal charges for 1,717 alleged equine drug violations.  It was the end result of findings that came from Pena’s veterinarian records.  Pena was suspended three years and fined $343,000.  Pena’s disciplinary action is on hold via an appeal. Here’s the unbelieveable kicker.  None of Pena’s horses actually tested positive so his lawyer is basing the case on “bogus” evidence.

On the suggestion of Team Valor’s Barry Irwin we attempted several times to get some answers from Rob Holland in mid May on the cobalt issue.  He’s a former member of the Kentucky Racing Commission who is with Pfizer. The well known expert is associated with the Gluck Center at the University of Kentucky.  When Frank Angst came with the KEDRC Makes Cobalt Policy Recommendations” story on May 26th we could wait no longer to release this feature.

We had to wonder if a story released by the FDA on May 18, 2015, might give the cobalt cheats some “wiggle room.”  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a Guidance for Industry(GFI) #230, titled Compounding Animal Drugs from Bulk Drug Substances.  The release read: “Current law does not permit compounding of animal drugs from bulk drug substances, but the FDA recognizes that there are limited circumstances when an animal drug compounded from bulk drug substances may be an appropriate treatment option.”  The release went on to say: “There are circumstances where there is no approved drug that can be used or modified through compounding to treat a particular animal with a particular condition.  In those limited situations, an animal drug compounded from bulk drug substances may be an appropriate treatment option.”  Only a court of law could tell the layman if this might be “wiggle room” for user.

On May 20, 2015 Frank Vespe wrote in The Racing Biz that the Maryland Racing Commission had reached a definite position on cobalt.  A rule that would set the threshold level at 50 ppb had been approved and could go into effect early in July.  Ultimately this will mean any any horse found to exceed that threshold will be disqualified.

Vespe went on to present the best definitive description we could find that describes what cobalt is and does:  ”Cobalt is a chemical element that is found in both humans and other animals, including horses.  It is considered an essential trace element–that is, a dietary element needed in minute quantities for the health of the organism–because of its role in helping the body to synthesize vitamin B12.    As a result, cobalt helps the body to produce enzymes like thyroxine. Those characteristics mean that increasing cobalt levels in the horse–typically through the administration of the drug cobalt chloride–may have performance-enhancing effects because the increased cobalt improves the horse’s ability to deliver oxygen to tired muscles.  In this regard, scientiests suggest that dobalt chloride can have effects not unlike the widely banned performance-enhancing drug EPO(Erythropoietin).”

Then came the story in The Horse on May 22nd: “Ohio Racing Regulators Discuss 2014 Drug Test Results.”  DVM James Robertson reported on the state’s Agriculture’s Analytical Toxicology Laboratory’s(ATL) “comprehensive cobalt researh study.  ”ATL is one of the few labs in the United States that has the equipment which is able to detect cobalt in both the blood and urine of equines,” stated DVM Beverly Byrum.  The story went on to claim of 15 nationwide labs, only five have the ability to test for cobalt.  That statement, according to our research, paints a fair picture of the precarious position to be found in most horse racing jurisditions.

Angst reported the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council is ready to “advise” the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to “adopt rules on the mineral cobalt” in line with a Racing Medication and Testing Consortium recommendation.  They voted at Kentucky Horse Park to “recommend a Class B penalty” when horses test above “50 parts per billion of cobalt in blood.”  The story went on to say there would be “lesser penalties” ranging from a warning to a $500 fine when a horse tests “between 25-50 parts per billion.”

To illustrate how cobalt has horse racing in a rush to justice, we refer to the statement made by KHRC equine medical director Mary Scollay.  Angst wrote: “Dr. Mary Scollay said the performance enhancing effects of cobalt are still being studied.  Scollay said there’s no reason to give high levels of cobalt to horses.”

“There is no deficiency of cobalt levels documented in the racehorse, Scollay said.

The industry finds itself in a precarious position.

We quote from Angst story: “The cobalt policy recommendation was not unanimously approved as committee members Randy Roberts, a veterinarian, and Rick Hiles, president of the Kentucky HBPA, both opposed it. Roberts said he’s “concerned about any sanctions when horses test in the 25-50 parts per billion range.  ”Roberts noted that some supplements administered after races increase cobalt levels, and that in standardbred racing, in which horses typically race more often than thoroughbreds, the 25-55-range could trip up some trainers who are trying to follow the rules.”

We hold the opinion Barry Irwin and Team Valor have been ahead of the curve on many horse racing issues.  He’s been right more than wrong.

Maybe it’s time for industry mogols to pay attention to him ”The entire cobalt issue is just another in a long line of reasons why the Feds need to make the USADA the overseer of drug policy and enforcement in America,” states Irwin.

Irwin’s final take?  ”If that doesn’t happen, look for me to race mainly abroad in the future.”

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About The Author

Warren Eves
Warren Eves is a senior turf writer from the state of California who calls Pearl River, Louisiana his home. The one time editor of the Pasadena Independent Star News moved on to handle publicity for racetracks coast to coast. Eves gained his first exposure to the racetrack through a school buddy the late Art Lerille, Jr., who eventually became a trainer in California. Warren worked as farm manager for crack two-year-old trainer Ray Priddy, before holding on track jobs at the racetrack. He worked for Hall of Fame trainer M.E. "Buster" Millerick, Allen Drumheller, Jr., and Dick Moon. Eves has a well rounded background in all breeds. He developed Quarter Horse Report in 1979 with Ed Burgart, track announcer, at Los Alamitos Race Course. It was an innovative publication which revolutionized the industry with actual descriptions of the workouts. While handling publicity at Saratoga Raceway in upstate New York Eves was named employee of the year in 1970. He also handled publicity for Sunland Park, Centennial Park, Ascot Park, Thistledown, and two harness meetings in California. Eves then went into the 900-line business with his best plays and has compiled his own Kentucky Derby ratings for many years. In 1997 he began going back and forth to Las Vegas teaming up with Ralph Siraco to create the long runining radio show Raceday Las Vegas. Eves has produced and directed many horse racing shows on both radio and television. In 2010 he got a call from Mark Geiger. That's when he began writing www.pricehorsecentral.com. Eves, with a reputation of a trip handicapper, is known for his video tape scrutiny. He currently monitors horse racing in for a major horseplayer. While writing for Ridder Publication at the Pasadena Star News his investigative reporting was highly regarded by his peers. Often on the cutting edge, Eves has been given the green light to write about what issues he sees fit to cover. Have a question. His book "Hold All Tickets" is soon to be made available for those who come to this site. It's a factual account of actual events and happenings that took place in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If Warren doesn't know the answer to a question you may have, he'll tell you up front. Eves won't drop it there, however, he'll find someone who knows the answer and get back to you.

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