The Ohio State Racing Commission recently ruled that Betting Line did not violate any rules when it won the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 22.
Betting Line, a heavily-favored horse that won the third leg of harness racing’s triple crown on Delaware County Fairgrounds’ half-mile track in a world record 1:49 by a Jug record eight-lengths over Western Fame. Hometown driver David Miller won his fourth Jug. Bettor’s Delight, Betting Line’s sire, won the Jug in 2001.
There were 11 three-year-old pacing colts entered in this year’s Jug, the smallest field since 1980, said event publicity director Jay Wolf in an email.
Western Fame’s trainer and conditioners filed a protest the morning of the race, citing text messages discovered on the cell phone of Betting Line’s assistant trainer Mark McKinnon about the horse receiving “treatments.” Casie Coleman, Betting Line’s trainer and the only woman to train a Jug winner, said the treatments consisted of a laser for pain relief and to feed the horse vanilla yogurt to maintain his stomach. The half-liter of yogurt would be administered by dose syringe twice daily.
The laser treatments were given in the Jug Barn on Tuesday and Wednesday of that week, which by rule is allowed under supervision of a veterinarian. Liter tubs of yogurt were brought to the barn Tuesday-Thursday, and the report said none of the security people objected to the yogurt or dose syringe.
However, since McKinnon was late to work and he had the yogurt; and the laser battery was low, Coleman said neither treatment took place on Sept. 22.
“The judges took no action at that time, which was approximately 10:30 a.m. (Sept. 22),” states the commission’s incident report, issued on Oct. 20. Presiding Judge John Yinger and commission investigator Steve Zaper went to the Jug Barn at 2 p.m. because officials “had received complaints by other horsemen with entries in the Little Brown Jug race.”
The report said no needle marks were found on Betting Line, and no violations were found following a search of the Jug Barn, trailer and vehicles. The Department of Agriculture’s Toxicology Laboratory tested Betting Line following Race 13 and Race 18, and was cleared both times. Coleman, McKinnon and groom Jeffery Kemp later provided written statements regarding the texts.
“The contents of the text messages are not conclusive and the explanations contained in the written statements do not offer any evidence to be conclusive in regard to a plan to give the horse an illegal substance or treatment,” said the report summary, written by Yinger and Zaper.
“There were no objections by security when the dose syringes and the yogurt were brought in to the Jug barn on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by Ms. Coleman,” the summary continues. “The Jug Barn detention policies and procedures were not followed to the letter by security and this caused confusion as to what the rules were. Possession of a dose syringe is not a violation of OSRC rules.”
Finally, the report cited two doctors in support of “our opinion that yogurt is not a classified substance and can be fed on race day.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.