- Horse Racing - Martin has license suspended by New York Racing Board

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Saturday, January 15
Martin has license suspended by New York Racing Board

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Thoroughbred trainer Greg Martin, owner Gerald Uvari, and harness driver Rene Poulin all had their racing licenses suspended indefinitely by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Friday after the three were indicted in connection with a doping incident at Aqueduct in 2003.

Track stewards also scratched two Martin-trained horses that were scheduled to run Friday and Saturday at Aqueduct.

The board has scheduled a hearing on the three men's racing licenses on Tuesday at NYSRWB headquarters in Albany at 9:30 a.m. Martin, Uvari, and Poulin, however, are scheduled to appear before Judge Miriam Cedarbaum in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday at 10:30.

The three men were arrested Thursday along with 14 others in connection with a multi-million dollar illegal gambling ring, which Uvari led. As part of the indictment, Uvari, Martin, and Poulin were charged with fraud and conspiracy for allegedly attempting to fix the first race at Aqueduct on Dec. 18, 2003, by giving the Martin-trained A One Rocket an illegal substance. A One Rocket, who was running for a claiming tag of $12,500 five days after being claimed for $7,500, won the race by 10 lengths and paid $5.60.

Though the indictment does not mention the illegal substance, a racing official confirmed that the horse was given a milkshake, a cocktail of sodium bicarbonate, sugar, and electrolytes. New York does not currently test for milkshakes in Thoroughbred racing.

Martin, 37, pleaded not guilty Thursday night and was released on $100,000 bond, though he was not required to put up any money, according to his attorney Doug Byrnes.

During a short conversation Friday morning with Daily Racing Form, Martin said he did not give A One Rocket any illegal substances before that race.

"The only thing I can tell you is the horse was tested 40 to 50 times and the horse tested clean," said Martin, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Frank Martin. "To my knowledge, no horse of mine has ever received anything."

Since 2000, Martin has served 60 days in suspensions and paid $5,000 in fines in connection with four medication positives. A One Rocket was not involved in any of those positives.

International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Inc., which owned A One Rocket, took all six of its horses away from Martin on Friday and moved them to trainers Dominick Schettino and John Terranova.

Judd Burstein, the attorney for IEAH, said his clients did not know their horse received an illegal substance and may take legal action against Martin if the charges are proven.

"My clients are outraged by this," Burstein said. "If it's true, we're evaluating our options going beyond removing the horses from Mr. Martin."

Charlie Hayward, who took over as New York Racing Association president in November, met last Monday with officials of the State Racing and Wagering Board to discuss implementing a testing policy for milkshakes. Hayward said he hopes NYRA can begin testing for milkshakes when Aqueduct's main track opens March 9.

With Martin facing up to 25 years in prison, Hayward said he hopes this incident is a deterrent for those who use milkshakes.

"I think the prospect of what Mr. Martin's looking at right now has to give people pause when they think about milkshaking horses," Hayward said.

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