Harnessracing.com has obtained a copy of the specific ruling issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) that resulted in Rick Zeron receiving a 180-day suspension and $10,000 fine. In announcing the sanctions on Jan. 9, the AGCO only stated which rules were violated and not the specifics.
According to the AGCO ruling, an inspection was conducted at the stable of Zeron on July 6, 2018, where he was found to have violated several rules. The AGCO ruling was issued Jan. 9, 2019, and lists the violations as:
1 Possessing improperly labelled medications;
2 Failing to have proper prescription for medications;
3 Attempting to avoid detection by using counterfeit medication labels;
4 Attempting to bribe another licensee to adjust their statement to help hide his use of counterfeit medication labels;
5 Using “shockwave” therapy within the prohibited 96 hour period on the following horses:
Lady Ella (Freeze Brand 5NM62), shockwaved on April 25, 2018 and qualified on April 27, 2018 at Mohawk Raceway;
Urban Legend (Freeze Brand 6N525), shockwaved on May 16, 2018 and qualified on May 18, 2018 at Mohawk Raceway.
In an email, AGCO director of racing Brent Stone told harnessracing.com that the ruling issued stands as is and further specifics, such as medications involved, are not available.
Zeron was a 2018 O’Brien Award of Horsemanship finalist, an award he previously won in 2010 and 2016, but he has been disqualified by Standardbred Canada. Atlanta, who is trained and co-owned by Zeron, has also been disqualified as an O’Brien finalist for 3-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year. Standardbred Canada’s O’Brien Award eligibility policy states: “An O’Brien Award will not be presented to any individual or entity who has served, or is currently serving a penalty for a continued period of 180 days or more during a calendar year. If the penalty continues through any part of the following calendar year, said individual is also ineligible for an O’Brien Award in the second year of the penalty. Outstanding appeals and/or stays do not alter the conditions of eligibility for O’Brien Award consideration.”
Atlanta has already been announced as the winner of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) Dan Patch Award as 3-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year and is considered a candidate to be named Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year at the Dan Patch Awards banquet on Feb. 24 in Orlando. The Integrity Committee of USHWA met by conference call over the weekend and an announcement on Atlanta’s status is expected later this week, but USHWA does not have a stringent policy similar to that of Standardbred Canada.
Zeron’s suspension is scheduled to begin Jan. 24 and run through July 22.