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OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE

 
 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Public Information Office (609) 882-2000
Capt. Albert Della Fave  x6514
Lt. Gerald Lewis  x6516
Sgt. Stephen Jones  x6513
Sgt. Jeanne Hengemuhle  x6515

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 03, 2006


 
 
Troopers Trot-Out Horseracing Arrests

West Trenton, NJ - "With these arrests, the New Jersey State Police has dealt a crushing blow to illegal activity in the sport of harness racing," said Colonel Rick Fuentes.

Troopers in the Horse Race Unit arrested four people after an investigation into illegal performance enhancement of racehorses. Eric S. Ledford, 35, Monroe Twp., Middlesex County, of Seldon Ledford Stables was arrested at the driver's locker room at the Meadowlands Racetrack and charged with conspiracy to rig a publicly exhibited contest (race-fixing). Two Ledford employees were also arrested, along with the veterinarian who supplied drugs to the operation. Twelve search warrants were executed Friday in Freehold, East Windsor and Englishtown after the investigation, dubbed "Operation Horsepower," revealed evidence of injecting horses with prescription drugs prior to races.

"By taking down one of the top finishers in the sport, Operation Horsepower will create a ripple effect that will be felt throughout the entire horse racing industry," said Major Jim Fallon, commanding officer of the Special Investigation Section. "Based on the attention these arrests have created, everyone who lost a race to a Ledford horse may now be asking some serious questions," he added.

Eric Ledford is a leading driver at the Meadowlands Racetrack, which is the most popular venue in the country for harness racing. He works for his father, Seldon Ledford, a nationally- ranked trainer of harness racing horses with winnings in excess of $3 million in the 2005 season. Statistics supplied by the United States Trotting Association reveal that average yearly winnings for the stable were approximately $186,000 between 1991 and 2004. Ledford's stable won more than one-half million dollars in purses during the first two months of 2006.

Ryan Dailey and his wife, Ardena J. Daily, both 31, of East Windsor were arrested on Friday morning at their home. The Daileys are both employed by Seldon Ledford Stables. Ryan is an assistant trainer and Ardena is stable employee. Both were charged with race rigging and possession of drugs.

Quantities of drugs, including EPO, were taken during the search of the Dailey home. Aranesp, a potent, long-lasting form of Erythropoietin (EPO) along with other schedule II and III narcotics, were seized during the execution of other search warrants. EPO acts as a blood enhancer that stimulates the red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles. Aranesp rarely produces antibodies in the horse's bloodstream, and is therefore undetectable with current post-race antibody tests. All forms of EPO are currently banned in the horseracing industry.

Veterinarian John R. Witmer, 68, of Freehold was also arrested Friday and charged with conspiracy to rig a publicly exhibited contest. Witmer's bank accounts and assets, valued at approximately $1,000,000, were frozen after his arrest. The value of seized pharmaceutical items is estimated in excess of $150,000.

Deputy Attorney General Christine D'Elia has been working with the State Police Horse Racing Unit on this 18-month-long investigation and provided legal guidance and oversight of the search warrant applications.

Chris McErlean, Vice President of Racing Operations at the Meadowlands, offered the State Police detectives full cooperation in the investigation. "The Meadowlands is extremely concerned with the integrity of our races and the entire horse racing industry. The expectation of fairness in our racing and its results is our lifeblood," said McErlean. "The New Jersey racetracks and horsemen pay over $2.7 million per year to the New Jersey Racing Commission to conduct drug testing; the Meadowlands is the largest contributor to a private investigative arm that works in the standardbred industry and we have been a leading proponent of detention barns - requiring horses to be in a secured barn area, supervised by the Meadowlands, 24 hours prior to a race. We will continue to do as much as is legally within our means to address the security and integrity matters related to our racing product. We would hope that all other tracks, and horsemen, would do the same."

Statistics uncovered in the investigation show that horses entering the Ledford stables-even those with well-established records-often posted dramatically improved race times within a few days of changing stables. Horses under Ledford usually improved by one to two seconds, which translates to five to ten lengths of a horse for each race.

NOTE: Detectives will be made available to the media for interviews on this investigation. Mug shots are also available by calling Sgt. Stephen Jones at the number listed above.

Eric S. Ledford
Ryan Dailey
Ardena J. Dailey
John R. Witmer
 
Eric Ledford
Ryan Dailey
Ardena J. Dailey
John R. Witmer

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