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Prominent owners move horses from Dowse

July 13, 2019

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Harnessracing.com has learned two prominent Standardbred owners have taken horses from trainer Gareth Dowse following an incident at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday night.


Ray Schnittker won a PA All Stars on Monday night with Can’t Say No and when he went into the winner’s circle he was bombarded by obscenities by horseman Josh Marks. Marks followed it up with what Schnittker described as “crazy” text messages. "He made up stuff up," added Schnittker.


“I don’t know what the hell happened to make him do that,” said Schnittker. “I won the race and he’s yelling at me in the winner’s circle. The woman that drove the groom down to the winner’s circle heard him and called security. Then (Marks) got a ride back to the barn area with someone and went in there even though he’s unlicensed.”


Marks, who hasn’t held a US Trotting Association license since 2011, is also unlicensed in Pennsylvania.


“Security got involved, and he got into it with a security guard at the casino too I guess,” added Schnittker of the incident with Marks, who is believed by many to be using “beards.”


Schnittker’s former employee Gareth Dowse now trains horses and has been rumored to be one of those associated with Marks.


“I was really disappointed that Gareth starting working with Josh,” said Schnittker.


Through July 11, horses listed as trained by Dowse had made 118 starts, giving him a UTRS of .480, fourth highest for all trainers, regardless of number of starts.


Leading owner Howard Taylor has had horses with Dowse, but moved them following the Marks incident at Pocono Monday night.


“I know Josh and Gareth worked together,” said Taylor from Bermuda, where he was vacationing with his family. “I’ve known Josh a lot of years and like Josh and Tracy (Brainard, Marks’ wife). But there’s a limit to what you can take, I guess.”


In the week before Linda Toscano was inducted into the Hall of Fame, her longtime owner Ken Jacobs moved several horses from her stable to Dowse. 
Following the Marks incident, he moved the horses back to her stable.


In other integrity-related news out of Pennsylvania, on July 2 Brainard was issued an indefinite suspension by the Pennsylvania State Harness Racing Commission for failing to pay a $10,000 fine as part of a penalty when her horse “First Class Horse tested positive for JWH-250 (Synthetic Cannabis).”


Also, the Pennsylvania commission has issued Dave McNeight Jr. a $10,000 fine and 365-day suspension for a December 2018 positive test for EPO on the horse Knocking Around. McNeight waived his right to an appeal and the ruling is final, with the suspension to begin on June 29, 2020. In April of this year McNeight was fined $5,000 and given a 722-day suspension—-to run from May 7, 2019, through April 27, 2021--because during an inspection by commission agents, “he removed an item from the barn without allowing the item to be searched, fled the scene, and in doing so, put the personal safety of a Commission Investigator in jeopardy.” Some horsemen believe McNeight Jr. is already using a “beard.”


And in Michigan, Ed Zubkoff Jr. has been fined $10,000 and given a 184-day suspension for a positive test for fentanyl with the horse McCluckey, who won a race at Northville Downs on April 20, 2019. The ruling stated, “A Settlement Agreement was signed July 8, 2019, where the parties agreed to the following: a six-month suspension of Mr. Zubkoff Jr.’s occupational licenses beginning July 27, 2019 and ending January 26, 2020; a $10,000.00 fine; Edward Zubkoff Jr. agreed to never seek licensing under the Michigan Horse Racing law of 1995.”--harnessracing.com

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