The U.S. Senate Committee of Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing Thursday afternoon chaired by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall. Among the eight who testified was Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and operator of the Meadowlands Racetrack.
After speaking for a few minutes on other problems racing currently has, including the marketing of the sport, Gural opened his comments on performance-enhancing drugs by speaking about trainer Lou Pena.
"He went from a run-of-the-mill trainer in California to the greatest trainer who ever lived,” noted Gural who, following his takeover of the Meadowlands, barred Pena from competing at that track.
"We need to eliminate the chemists if we are going to survive,” said Gural.
Gural noted that unlike other sports, racing suffers from not having the oversight of a commissioner. Gural said he didn't believe things would change "until the federal government takes it over so the rules are the same.”
Here is the link to a copy of Gural's entire testimony: http://commerce.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=76854711-5d1a-471c-bdb4-b2ab399a2bd3
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg asked Gural about his exclusion policy and that barred trainers are still able to race elsewhere. Gural said if there was one regulatory agency to answer to that would mean, "When someone is caught, that should be the end of it. What would solve it is if we took some of these trainers out in handcuffs.”
Other members of the first panel of four who testified included Thoroughbred owner Barry Irwin, the CEO of Team Valor International, Kent Stirling, the executive director of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protection Association, and Jim Gagliano, president of The Jockey Club.
When Irwin noted to the committee that he would like to see the FBI get involved in the policing of drugs, Gural added, "I have more ability to catch cheaters than the police do. That's a face. A policeman has to have probable cause, where I don't have to have probable cause. I can just say, ‘Open the trunk.'”