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Vernon, Tioga to use dogs to search for illegal drugs

August 23, 2007

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Vernon Downs, Tioga Downs and Gray & Associates Consulting have instituted K-9 Units to patrol both Vernon and Tioga Downs, and the first patrol and barn inspection took place Thursday morning at Vernon Downs.
\"I believe this is the first time dogs have been trained and used to ensure the integrity of racing,\" said Art Gray, a former New York racing official who now provides security/racing integrity consulting services. \"In addition to marijuana, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth, these dogs have been trained to detect illicit drugs and any equipment used to administer drugs in violation of racetrack and commission rules and regulations.\"
Standard operating procedures dictate the staff work in teams and that any possible violations be securely bagged and documented. The first day turned up several potential violations.  The substances will be sent to a lab for identification.
The K-9s, Buck and Bo, were trained by Jack Felicita, Security Director at Tioga Downs and Nancy Mitchell, also a member of the Tioga Security Staff both of whom are retired K-9 Unit officers with over 20 years experience.
Jeff Gural issued a statement \"It is the responsibility of the racetrack owners in all facets of racing to do everything in their power to complement the efforts of the racing commissions to maintain the integrity of racing.  The K-9 units will be an integral part of our integrity program.  The vast majority of owners and trainers simply wait to compete on a level playing field and anything we can do to advance that agenda is worth the extra cost involved.  As a breeder who sees these wonderful animals born and raised, it is repugnant to think that someone would put a tube with baking soda down their throats or use any other experimental drugs to win a race.  It is my hope that racetrack owners around the country will follow our lead.\" (Vernon/Tioga press release)
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