The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) April 6 took action against six Standardbred trainers whose horses tested positive for potentially dangerous and performance-enhancing levels of cobalt in violation of commission racing rules.

The commission suspended harness trainers Tyler J. Nostadt, Joseph Carrubba, Dennis M. Washington, Sean M. Campbell, Megan M. Gilmour, and Dawn M. DeVaux, effective immediately, and all six face significant additional sanctions. The commission said horses trained by Nostadt, Carrubba, and Washington were found to contain cobalt at high enough levels to warrant minimum 10-year bans from the sport for those trainers. The six trainers’ violations occurred at Monticello Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, and Yonkers Raceway in March 2016.

The commission said it will refer the matters to appropriate law enforcement for contemplation of animal cruelty charges.

“The commission has found multiple harness horse trainers exhibiting reckless disregard for horse health and safety in the name of trying to gain unfair advantages,” said Commission Executive Director Robert Williams. “They are being held accountable for their actions.”

New York State Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, VMD, Dipl. ABVP, said low levels of cobalt, a naturally-occurring element with properties similar to those of iron and nickel, are present in all horses and are not considered to be harmful. It can be found in many horse feeds and vitamin supplements. However, Palmer said, there is no therapeutic reason to administer large doses of cobalt to horses. Administration of high doses of cobalt salts