HIWU Weekly Roundup: Trainer Suspended 18 Months Enters Horse In West Virginia – Horse Racing News

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Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort

This week’s update on punitive actions taken by the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU), the enforcement arm of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), includes an 18-month suspension and $12,500 fine for trainer John Brown.

Brown trainee Rollin On Tequila tested positive for isoxsuprine after finishing sixth in a claiming race at Thistledown on May 31. Rollin On Tequila has been disqualified from that placing and all purse money ordered redistributed; the horse is also suspended for 60 days (beginning May 31).

Brown has been training since 2014, primarily in Ohio, and has won 110 races from 1,941 starts in his career. Despite his suspension, Brown has entered a horse to race at Mountaineer Park on July 26; the West Virginia racetrack does not fall under HISA rules (neither do tracks in Texas or Louisiana, thanks to ongoing legal battles).

Also this week, a provisional suspension was dropped against trainer McLean “Mac” Robertson when a split sample did not confirm a reported positive test for the banned substance altrenogest. Altrenogest, approved for use in fillies and mares to suppress estrus and sold under the brand name Regu-Mate, reportedly was detected in the gelding Johnny Up following a June 4 victory in a $7,500 claiming race at Canterbury Park, where Robertson has been a member of the Minnesota track’s Hall of Fame since 2011.

Because altrenogest is listed as a banned substance for male horses under HISA/HIWU rules, the positive triggered an automatic provisional suspension of Robertson pending confirmation of the drug in the split sample. Robertson was required to transfer the 70 horses under his care to someone not currently affiliated with his stable during the provisional suspension. Robertson’s most recent start was July 2.

Nathaniel Quinonez, a one-time Robertson employee who started 49 horses in his own name from 2016 through May 4, 2023, took over the stable. Quinonez has won eight races from 26 starts at Canterbury and Delaware Park since Robertson was forced to the sidelines, including two stakes on Canterbury’s Hall of Fame day July 15.

HIWU released the following statement after Robertson’s provisional suspension was released: “The results of the requested B sample of Covered Horse Johnny Up did not confirm the presence of Altrenogest, a Banned Substance, which was indicated in the A sample finding. Accordingly, the Provisional Suspensions of trainer McLean Robertson and Johnny Up have been lifted, the notice of a potential Equine Anti-Doping violation has been withdrawn by the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU), and the matter has been closed.”

New Case Resolutions

Several new case resolutions have been confirmed in the past week by HIWU.

Trainers admitting to rule violations early and accepting consequences are Jeffrey Englehart, Juan Quintana, Doug Nunn, and Valrie Smith.

Englehart trainee Bold Victory finished third in an allowance race at Finger Lakes, then tested positive for methocarbamol. Bold Victory has been disqualified and all purse monies ordered redistributed; Englehart will pay a $500 fine and has 1.5 Penalty Points on his record.

Quintana trainee La Castiglione tested positive for phenylbutazone after a workout at Canterbury Park on June 13, 2023. Quintana will pay a $500 fine and has 1.5 Penalty Points on his record.

Nunn will face a 30-day suspension and pay a $5,000 fine for violating the intra-articular injection rule within 14 days of post time with trainee Smithwick’s Spice. Nunn has 3 Penalty Points on his record. The horse has been disqualified from his sixth-place finish in a Delaware Park allowance optional claimer on June 9, and all purse money ordered redistributed.

Smith trainee It’s Sizzling Time tested positive for triamcinolone acetonide after winning a starter optional claiming race at Parx on June 7. The horse has been disqualified and all purse monies ordered redistributed; Smith will pay a $500 fine and has 1.5 Penalty Points on her record.

A final decision was rendered in the case of trainer Carlos Munoz. Lovielee tested positive for phenylbutazone in a claiming race at Gulfstream Park on June 9 (finished second); she has been disqualified and all purse monies ordered redistributed. Munoz will pay a $500 fine and has 1.5 Penalty Points on his record.

Pending Violations – Controlled Substances

The following cases include pending violations for controlled substances, those that are permitted for therapeutic purposes (new cases in italics at top of list).

  • Trainer Arcadio Lopez – Mo Crazy Blues tested positive for flunixin after winning a claiming race at Finger Lakes on June 13.
  • Trainer Javier Hernandez – two trainees tested positive for salicylic acid
    • Chief Mystique won a claiming race at Belterra Park on June 10
    • Fast Fall won a maiden special weight at Belterra on June 10
  • Trainer Climaco Galindo-Torres – Delaney’s Grace tested positive for salicylic acid after finishing eighth in a maiden claiming race at Belterra Park on June 8. The 3-year-old filly was claimed out of that race for owner/trainer John Howard, and has since finished eighth in a maiden special weight race at Belterra on July 8. That claim will be voided under HISA rules.
  • Trainer Dennis VanMeter – Templement tested positive for phenylbutazone in an allowance race at Thistledown on June 7, 2023 (finished sixth after clipping heels at the start). VanMeter is also provisionally suspended as Templement returned a positive test for the banned substance isoxsuprene in the same race.
  • Trainer James Acquilano – Sabreen tested positive for methocarbamol in a claiming race at Finger Lakes on May 31, 2023 (finished second).
  • Trainer Sandino Hernandez, Jr. – Jonas’ Dream tested positive for naproxen in a maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park on May 25, 2023 (finished first).
  • Trainer Wayne Sparling – Banco Medici tested positive for methocarbamol in a maiden claiming race at Finger Lakes on May 24, 2023 (finished first).

Pending Violations – Provisional Suspensions For Banned Substances

The following cases include pending violations for banned substances, those that are not permitted in horses (new cases in italics at top of list).

  • Trainer David Reid – Maligator tested positive for venlafaxine (an anti-depressant and nerve pain medication) after winning a claiming race at Hawthorne on June 25. The 8-year-old gelding has since finished second in a claiming race at Hawthorne on July 16.
  • Trainer Javier Morzan – Lady Liv tested positive for metformin (a commonly used prescription drug that treats diabetes) after finishing third in a starter optional claiming race at Delaware Park on June 24.
    • Moran sent a “Letter to the Editor” to The Blood-Horse this week, writing: “HIWU did not tell me the amount of the medicine found in Lady Liv’s blood. They did not give me any possibility of prior defense before being sanctioned. I am simply out of the races in all jurisdictions where the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority has authority. Now I have to face this very difficult moment.”
  • Trainer Mary Pirone – Benny The Jet tested positive for altrenogest after the gelding finished fifth in a claiming race at Emerald Downs on June 24. He was claimed from that race and moved to the barn of trainer Jorge Rosales, and has since won a claiming race at Emerald on July 14. Under HISA rules, the claim will be voided.
  • Trainer Natalia Lynch – Motion to Strike tested positive for altrenogest after the gelding finished fourth in a claiming race at Monmouth Park on June 24. He was claimed from that race by owner/trainer Silvino Ramirez, and has since finished third in a claiming race at Monmouth on July 14. Under HISA rules, the claim will be voided.
  • Trainer Joseph Taylor – two runners have tested positive for both methylphenidate and clenbuterol 
    • Classy American finished second in a starter allowance at Parx on June 20
    • Cajun Cousin finished second in a claiming race at Parx on June 18. The 4-year-old filly has since won a claiming race at Parx on July 12, prior to the positive being called. Cajun Cousin was claimed out of that race by trainer Michael V. Pino for Smart Angle LLP; the claim will be voided under HISA rules.
  • Trainer Dick Clark – two runners have tested positive for methamphetamine
    • Colonel Klink finished second in an allowance optional claiming race at Prairie Meadows on June 19. The 7-year-old gelding has since raced three more times before the positive was called, finishing first in a claiming race on July 3, third in a starter allowance on July 9, and second in a claiming race on July 22.
    • My Heart’s On Fire finished first in a maiden special weight race at Prairie Meadows on June 19.
  • Trainer Donald H. Buckner – In the Midst tested positive for clenbuterol after finishing fifth in an allowance race at Thistledown on June 15.
  • Trainer Lorenzo Ruiz – two runners have tested positive for the vasodilator diisopropylamine
    • American Cat tested positive after winning a $16,000 claiming race at Los Alamitos on June 25. The 4-year-old gelding has since finished third in an allowance optional claimer at Los Al on July 9.
    • Facts Matter tested positive after winning a starter allowance race at Los Alamitos on June 23. The 8-year-old gelding has since finished fifth in a claiming race at Los Al on July 8.
    • *** Ruiz is also a multiple stakes-winning Quarter Horse trainer based at Los Al, though he has not started any Quarter Horses since 2022. Since HISA/HIWU have no jurisdiction over Quarter Horse racing, whether or not Ruiz would be able to race Quarter Horses will be up to the state racing commission and/or local racetrack. Ruiz has not started any horses, Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse, since July 9.
  • Trainer Guadalupe Munoz Elizondo – Quinton’s Charmer tested positive for metformin, a medication commonly prescribed in humans for type 2 diabetes, on June 11, 2023 (the New Mexico Racing Commission’s Izzy Trejo confirmed that the positive test was incurred after a work before the state veterinarian in an attempt to remove Quinton’s Charmer from the vet’s list).
    • ***Munoz Elizondo is also a multiple graded stakes-winning Quarter Horse trainer. Since HISA/HIWU have no jurisdiction over Quarter Horse racing, Munoz Elizondo will still be able to train and race Quarter Horses in New Mexico. Trejo said that HISA gave guidance last year that jockeys suspended for whip violations on a Thoroughbred could ride in Quarter Horse races, so the NMRC has applied the same logic to a trainer with a HIWU suspension. Thus,  Munoz Elizondo is permitted to participate in Quarter Horse races. Trejo added that the commission is pushing for a state rule that will apply reciprocity at the NMRC level for HISA suspensions, but that isn’t in place yet.
  • Trainer Milton Pineda – four runners have now tested positive for the vasodilator diisopropylamine – find more information in this Paulick Report story, including why a supplement may be to blame for the positives
    • Chollima won an $8,000 claiming race at Los Alamitos on June 23, 2023, after which she tested positive, and has since finished second in a $12,500 claiming race
    • Big Splash won a $16,000 waiver claiming event at Santa Anita on June 10, after which he tested positive. Big Splash has since finished third in an allowance optional claiming race at Los Alamitos on June 24.
    • Flatterwithjewels finished second in a $12,500 claiming race at Santa Anita on June 9 and was claimed by Flurry Racing Stables and trainer Phil D’Amato. The claim will be voided under HISA rules.
    • Bella Renella won a $20,000 claiming race at Santa Anita on June 2, after which she tested positive. The 6-year-old mare has since won a starter optional claiming race at Santa Anita on June 18.
  • Trainer Reed Saldana – Ice Queen tested positive for the vasodilator diisopropylamine after finishing third in a starter allowance at Santa Anita on June 16 – find more information in this Paulick Report story, including why a supplement may be to blame for the positives
  • Dr. Luis Jorge Perez, DVM – possession of levothyroxine (violation date June 9)
  • Trainer Dennis VanMeter – Templement tested positive for isoxsuprine after finishing sixth in an allowance race at Thistledown on June 7, 2023 (see above, horse also returned positive test for controlled substance phenylbutazone)
  • Trainer Jeffrey Poole – possession of levothyroxine (violation date June 2)
  • Trainer Jonathan Wong – Heaven and Earth tested positive for metformin after winning a maiden race at Horseshoe Indianapolis on June 1 (Wong told the Paulick Report he has been prescribed metformin, a commonly used prescription drug that treats type 2 diabetes in humans, since last year)
  • Trainer Ray Handal – HIWU has lifted the provisional suspension of trainer Raymond Handal, who was told June 30 a horse in his care tested positive for the banned substance zeranol, but the equine anti-doping notice has not been withdrawn. (Attorney Clark Brewster told the Paulick Report that literature shows mycotoxins found on corn or grain can produce zearalenone. Zeranol is a metabolite of zearalenone.)
  • Trainer Mario A. Dominguez – Petulant Delight tested positive for cobalt after winning a claiming race at Parx on May 24, 2023

Last week’s edition of the HIWU Weekly Roundup is available here, and all public disclosures can be found on the HIWU website.

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