This dog could sniff out a needle in a haystack. And that may be exactly what he needs to do from time to time.

Unleashed by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the New Jersey Racing Commission, a 2-year-old Labrador is New Jersey's newest tool in an effort to prevent cheating in the horse racing industry.

As the state's first-ever K-9 horse racing investigator, Shadow has already hit on illegal substances during his regular patrols of racetracks and licensed farms throughout New Jersey.

"We're not talking about specific cases today, but he has already produced results," state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal told New Jersey 101.5.

The specially-trained scent-sniffing dog, with an investigator manning his leash, can pick up on a host of banned chemicals known to be used by unscrupulous trainers and owners in order to gain a competitive advantage, as well as related paraphernalia such as hypodermic needles. The state would not disclose details on exactly which substances Shadow can detect.

"Doping, unfortunately, is a big issue in horse racing," Grewal said. "It affects the integrity of the sport, but it also affects the health of the horses."

The idea of using a dog to sniff out cheaters came out of a meeting earlier this year, during which Grewal challenged division and commission leadership to collaborate with each other in order to better serve the public. The Racing Commission identified its needs and partnered with the New Jersey State Police to find the Lab.

"The people hiding drugs and needles have always had an intrinsic advantage, because it's easier to conceal these things than to locate them," said Racing Commission Executive Director Judith Nason. "But Shadow could turn out to be a true game-changer. Not only can he search a lot of territory very quickly, he can also detect banned substances in hiding places where we humans might not find them."

The Racing Commission already has four human investigators, Nason said. So now there are 12 boots on the ground, "although four of them are paws."

More from New Jersey 101.5:

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM