Racing New South Wales (RNSW) released its conclusions following a lengthy investigation into the alleged mistreatment of thoroughbred racehorses by Marston and Keen.
"He did not seek confirmation from a veterinary surgeon, nor advise RNSW," (on killing the horse) the stewards stated.
On June 10, RNSW's official vet, Dr. Carly Garling, went to the property maintained by Marston and found 12 horses in very poor condition. A second visit nine days later found six of those horses still had fevers and diarrhea.
Marston was found guilty on a total of eight charges, half of which were animal cruelty breaches related to a charity she ran named Recycled Racehorses.
Kean, who failed to attend the hearings, was found guilty on seven charges, including three welfare animal abuse violations.
Marston was also a no-show for her hearing on August 22, and instead chose to release a 17-minute tirade on video, saying she would not be attending any more hearings and that RNSW has "ruined my reputation and my career."
Marston was officially found guilty of failure to provide sufficient nutrition to a dozen horses, failure to provide veterinary treatment to six horses, and conduct prejudicial to the interests of racing.
Kean faced the same charges as above but scored an additional one for destroying a thoroughbred racehorse without confirming the decision with a veterinary surgeon.
On September 6, the pair learned their fate. Marston won't be around any horses for seven years and is banned from the entire racing industry until September 6, 2030.
Kean was hit with a six-year ban and his disqualification will end a year earlier on the same date.
Marston continues to defend herself on social media and claims no wrongdoing. "This has been the most ridiculous set of circumstances and I don't want to partake in their games any longer," she posted.
The former jockey turned racing presenter recently resigned from her position at Sky Racing and called the entire case a "vendetta." As of this writing, no criminal charges have been filed.
The worst Saratoga meeting ever?
It's always a sad time for me when the Saratoga meet ends but this year I wasn't as devastated to see that season finally completed.
I spent most of my adult life living in the hills of Schoharie County, in upstate, New York, about an hour from Saratoga and there were many years where I never missed a single race. To give you an idea of how much I love the place, my vehicle license plate says "Saratoga."
You could always count on a stellar meet, decent accommodations, and a very good product in general.
But this year was a head-scratcher, as the bad news seemed to never end and a serious giant dark cloud hung over the entire meet of the beautiful place they call the Spa.
In my opinion, the 155th Saratoga meet was a bust. There were, of course, your daily standard beautiful moments and top-notch races but for the most part, it was a painful disaster. It was the perfect storm of sorts, with the blame resting on Mother Nature, the Grim Reaper, and a decent pile of human errors.
There were seven fatal breakdowns during races and one fatal cardiac episode, including life-ending injuries to Maple Leaf Mel in the Test Stakes and New York Thunder in the H. Allen Jerkins Memorial Stakes. Both horses were clear in the stretch and looked like sure winners before the ugliness happened. There were countless calls on social media to shut down the meeting and find out why there were so many deaths in this short span. No particular reason has been found yet but they're still looking into it.
The Saratoga area is well known for its weird storms that can blow in without warning and dump large amounts of rain in a short period of time and this year was no exception. The turf racing was decimated, with almost 11 inches of rainfall that led to an unbelievable 65 races being taken off the sod and moved to the main track. In comparison, last year, there were only 16 races taken off the turf, and in the previous two years combined, there were 61. These sudden surface changes led to an annoying amount of scratches that caused havoc among the bettors and track officials. Most of these surface changes took place during or just before the start of the sequence wagers, leaving the bettors befuddled and (sometimes) getting an "ALL" race in their multi-race wagers.
It seems the NYRA officials were befuddled too, as they did an extremely poor job of relaying this information to the wagering public in a timely manner, and just plain made some awful decisions, and did it on several occasions to boot.
If all of the above wasn't enough, In 50 years of attending this racecourse, I've never seen so many poor and extremely questionable disqualifications, as well as non-disqualifications, as I have this year from the stewards at Saratoga. There was no consistency at all from day to day or any common sense whatsoever used in most of the steward's decisions and the chaos was almost comical. Not surprisingly, it seems that jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. still can do no wrong in NY, even when he obviously and consistently herds his rivals in almost every event.
Ortiz has been a dangerous rider in NY for a long time now and I don't expect anything to change. The stewards will continue to ignore the fouls and overaggressive riding style of the "Golden Boy."
One can only hope the NYRA officials learned a bunch from their many mistakes this year and that next year the weather cooperates, and common sense and consistency prevail at the Spa.
Trainer blames "backpackers" for two positive cocaine tests.
Australian trainer Phil Bobic told a stewards board that a group of "backpacking stable employees" could be to blame for two positive cocaine tests in Queensland. Bobic stated he had no idea how his two horses, Sennachie and Sonic Arrow both produced positive swabs for cocaine within two weeks of each other. But the conditioner told the stewards that he let a group of backpackers feed the horses and that could be the source of the contamination. The group has since moved on.
"I've questioned everyone at the stable over it," Bobic told the panel. "If I had any suspicions anyone was on, or using cocaine, I wouldn't have them working for me."
Bobic himself even provided a hair sample to the stewards for testing and the results were negative. When asked by chief steward Josh Adams, Bobic stated that he had never even tried cocaine.
Bobic sees a need for some new stable procedures and a better vetting process for his employees.
"I feel as if it could have been poor stable practices," he said. "When I'm away and unable to be at the stable, sometimes "backpackers" (transients) have done the feeds. I liked them backpackers and I never would have thought they'd be on cocaine. I've been really hard on myself over this whole thing. The feed room system was flawed and practices have now changed."
Bobic pled guilty to 2 charges, involving Sonic Arrow's win at Toowoomba on June 10 and Sennachie's victory at Gatton on June 24. Phil Bobic comes from an eventing and equestrian background and is a solid horseman with a good reputation. He told the stewards he had never had a positive swab from "thousands" of tests on his horses.
The stewards have adjourned the matter and will consider the penalty.
Written by Peter Monaco
Photo: Pixabay (free)