Racing Officials: Performance Enhancing Drugs Found in Harness Racing Horses

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP -- Pennsylvania Racing Officials confirm three horses in our state this spring tested positive for a steroid that helps them run farther and faster.

One horse tested positive after a race at Pocono Downs.

Howard Taylor was the 2011 Pennsylvania Harness Racing Owner of the Year, and races his championship horses at Harrah's Casino outside Philadelphia Pocono Downs in Luzerne County.

He's also a lawyer who has been asked by two trainers to consider representing them. Taylor says these trainers have been told their horses tested positive for a performance enhancing drug.

"You`re having more money than ever in the sport," said Taylor.  "People are going to do what they can to get it, some people, and they`re going to bend or break rules."

Howard Taylor confirms the drug in question is Aranesp

It's normally given to people low on red blood cells because of chemotherapy or kidney failure.

But when Aranesp is given to healthy race horses, Taylor says it allows them to maintain top speed longer.

"It increases the oxygen flow to the blood, thereby increasing the endurance substantially," said Taylor.

The racing publication, says Aranesp is used by cheaters because it is its difficult to detect in blood tests.

But Howard Taylor says testing improved this year.

He adds that if the state harness racing officials find that trainers cheated.

"If they're guilty, they`re going to hammer them," said Taylor. "And they`re talking about years` suspensions."

Pocono Downs officials are not commenting on the investigation.

In the meantime, we're told that all three trainers who have been notified of a positive drug test on their horses are waiting for testing of a second sample at another lab.

If any of these tests are negative, the trainers are off the hook, if not, they likely face stiff fines and suspensions.

We're also told that the top trainers in the state, and at Pocono Downs are not the targets of the probe.