Harness Trainer Rene Allard Latest Arrested in Doping Scandal

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Sarah Andrew

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Harness trainer Rene Allard has joined the long list of those indicted for their role in a massive horse doping scheme that has rocked Thoroughbred and harness racing. The number of individuals who are known to have been involved is now 29.

Allard was not among the original list of names of those who were indicted that was released Monday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Allard is second in the current trainer's standings at Yonkers Raceway, behind only Richard Banca, who has also been indicted as part of the doping probe undertaken by the FBI.

According to a source, Allard was arrested earlier this week while vacationing in Las Vegas. He is being charged with “misbranding” drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

During its investigation of Allard and others, the FBI intercepted a disturbing phone conversation between Ross Cohen and Louis Grasso, who were among those indicted Monday, discussing the deaths of horses who were given illegal drugs by Allard. It reads (exactly):

Cohen: What's going on with the Allard death camp?
Grasso: (Laughter) well I didn't get anymore emergency calls yesterday so I am assuming…
Cohen: Assuming the number stopped at 7?
Grasso: Well yeah
Cohen” How many died?
Grasso: Three
Cohen. Jeez. What were you thinking?
Grasso: Three or two maybe.
The pair continue to discuss the situation before wrapping up:
Grasso: …One of them just died on the table they just cut him open and poof it died.
Cohen: Holy f–k did they do an autopsy?
Grasso: Their heart rate was like triple they were breathing real heavy their membranes were going f-ing purple.

The legal documents obtained by the TDN include the deposition of FBI agent Bruce Turpin. Turpin states that Allard stabled at a training center run by Banca in Middletown, NY and that his barn was raided on or about Mar. 9. There, they found multiple empty syringes, the drug Glycopyrrolate, epinephrine and vials labeled “Thymosine Beta” and “for research purposes only.”

The court filings also include the text of an intercepted text message from Allard to Grasso, which read: “I need 3 bottles of red acid to go to Canada Thursday.” According to the FBI, red acid is administered to mask physical injuries in racehorses, thereby increasing the risk of injury while racing.

Allard and Baca share more than the fact they have both been indicted and that they trained at the same facility. They have been battling it out on the racetrack at Yonkers, where Banca has 42 winners this year, one more than Allard. The 10th leading trainer at Yonkers, Nick Surick, has also been indicted. Surick is the leading trainer at Freehold Raceway.

In a January, 19, 2020 press release written by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, Allard discussed why he had been so successful on the young year.

“We're only racing about half the barn right now and the ones that we're racing are in good spots, so it helps,” Allard said. “When you're only racing half the barn, it's easier to keep a higher average,” Allard said. “I have approximately 30 horses who are going to qualify between now and the middle of February. I'm very happy with the start of the year so far. During the Yonkers break, we kept them fit and trained and as soon as they opened, we were ready to go.”

Allard becomes the fourth harness trainer tied up in the scandal who was previously banned at the Meadowlands by track owner Jeff Gural, joining a list that also includes Chris Oakes, Chris Marino and Banca.

According to Harness Racing Update, Allard had a horse racing at Woodbine test positive for codeine and morphine and was handed a one-year suspension and a $5,000 fine.
He led all trainers in wins in 2019 at Pocono Downs.

Allard is the owner of Thoroughbred Legendary Jack, who is entered in Saturday's sixth race at Parx for trainer Silvio Martin.

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