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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink — Each Friday morning the United States Trotting Association website publishes the past weeks fine and suspensions that are submitted by each state’s racing jurisdiction or commission.

This past Friday, the second major listing was for none other than the Dan Patch Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year, Perfect Sting, who on June 26, 2021, was placed first in the $148,332 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race at The Meadows Racetrack.

Within a surprising ten days’ time, Perfect Sting’s trainer Joe Holloway, recently named the 2021 Dan Patch Good Guy Award winner, was contacted by the Judges at The Meadows and informed that his horse had come up positive for excessive testosterone at a level of 3765pg/ml, which is a class 3 violation.

Holloway immediately requested that the split sample also be retested, and it was then sent to a lab.

Now, more than six months later, Holloway is informed this past week that the split test also came up positive and that the judges were imposing a two-week suspension and a $500 fine for Holloway.

Apparently, due to Covid and a backlog of testing, it has been taking a ridiculous amount of time to get back results on split samples.

Holloway is appealing that decision and here is why.

“I knew from the start that the judges are just doing their job,” Holloway explained. “The horse came up positive and I now have to fight it, I sent in my appeal form and am waiting for some big news.

“Everyone does test for testosterone,” Holloway explained. “But mostly just in mares and geldings. I believe we are the only intact male to be positive.”

“There are many people who have seen Perfect Sting in the race paddock and in the winner’s circle after a race,” Holloway added. “And he is always hot, rearing to go and he is producing, on his own, a lot of testosterones.”

Perfect Sting was harness racing’s top money-winner in 2021, banking $1.27 million in purses. The colt hit the board in all 16 of his starts, winning seven times and finishing second on eight occasions.

He never had a positive test in any of those other 15 starts.

“It could have been any number of reasons why he came up positive,” Holloway added. “There could have been a hot filly using the same ship-in stall before he arrived, or another stallion nearby was challenging him.”

Now with the split sample coming back positive, what recourse does Holloway have when the hearing takes place with the Pennsylvania Racing Commission?

“This case is not over yet,” Holloway said. “I really don’t care, it’s $500 and two weeks. The reason I am fighting this is because of the horse. The judges and commission have their job to do, and I have my job to do, and we will see where it ends up.

“It’s not like people are trying to hide something here,” Holloway said. “As soon as the judges got the report back from the lab, they called me last week and the positive report came out on Friday. I just finished and sent out my appeal form and now have to wait for a hearing date.”

But from the git-go, Holloway was on top of this situation.

“Right away we pull hair/follicle samples from the horse,” Holloway explained. “There is a man in England who does DNA testing on hair samples, and he can tell whether the testosterone at that time was given to him, or it is just natural in his system at such a high level.

“The trouble is,” Holloway explained. “Is that the test has not come back yet. We called and talked with the man in England, and he said he put the testing on the front of the line and that we may get the results back within a week or so. It’s kinda cutting it close, but we do not yet have a hearing date so I am hopeful the results will arrive before the hearing.

“Clear and calmer heads will prevail in the end,” Holloway said. We need to see what the DNA hair sample testing shows. If we go to the appeal hearing it comes up that his level is too high, I understand the trainer’s responsibility rule, I understand everything, but the bottom line is that I did not do it.”

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