New York regulators on Thursday suspended Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher for 10 days and fined him $1,000 for his favorite stallion, Forte, until he suffered an injury in last week’s Kentucky Derby. , disqualified as the winner of the previous stakes race. September, Saratoga Springs, New York
The stallion tested positive for meloxicam, a potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to manage pain and swelling, according to the New York State Gambling Commission. The drug is widely prescribed to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but it is not approved for use in training racehorses in the United States.
The positive reaction and suspension cast another ugly light on an already disorganized race when seven horses, including two Kentucky Derby undercards, died at Churchill Downs in the week leading up to the Derby.
Eight months after failing to test, Forte won the next four races, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November and the Florida Derby last month. Both races are considered important tests for potential Triple Crown winners. Forte was named horse racing’s two-year-old champion, a title that greatly enhanced his potential sire contenders for his co-owners Mike Lepole and Vincent Viola.
Forte’s disqualification from the Hopeful Stakes last September means he won’t receive the $165,000 first-place prize.
On Saturday, Forte, a 3-1 favorite to win the Derby morning, was injured hours before the race when he was declared unfit to compete by a Kentucky veterinarian with a bruise on his right forefoot.
Neither Pletcher nor her attorney, Karen Murphy, returned calls or texts seeking comment. Mr. Lepol declined to comment. Viola’s representatives did not respond to calls or text messages.
State regulators said Pletcher exercised his right to have residual samples tested, but struggled to find an approved laboratory to accept the samples, preventing an early resolution to the doping problem. Once the positive results were confirmed, Mr. Murphy repeatedly called for a hearing on the violations to be postponed, regulators said.
Doping and horse deaths have plagued racing for a long time, but they do so during one of the few times of the year when the public pays attention to racing: the Triple Crown season, which begins with the Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The explosive growth of online sports betting and declining interest in horse racing are also major challenges for the industry.
The Breeders’ Cup requires participants to disclose past drug offenses when entering the championship. A spokeswoman said neither Pletcher nor the owner told organizers that Hopeful had failed a drug test two months before Forte raced in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. She said Forte met all pre-race regulatory, veterinary and drug testing requirements to race in Kentucky, where Keeneland hosted last year’s Breeders’ Cup race.
Breeders’ Cup Chairman and CEO Drew Fleming said, “This situation is precisely why our sport cannot tolerate further delays in implementing HISA’s enforcement policies.” Horse Racing Fairness and Safety Authority.
The agency, which is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission, was set up to develop strict drug controls and meaningful penalties for violations. It is also expected to streamline the sentencing process, which varied from state to state and often took months or even years to reach a decision. Authority will take over on May 22nd.
In the coming weeks, the public will know the names of the horses and trainers involved, as well as the drugs found, according to official regulations for dealing with drug violations. Facts will be known within four months and punishment will be imposed if necessary.
Pletcher has been named a champion trainer seven times and has won the Kentucky Derby twice and the Belmont Stakes twice. He committed a drug offense in New York in 2004 with the local anesthetic mepivacaine. Reportedly, he was given a 45-day suspension and a $3,000 fine. Website maintained by the Jockey Club, throughbredrulings.com,Industry group.
Pletcher appears to have at least one other drug violation lawsuit pending against him.
Pennsylvania trainer Louis C. Linder Jr. said in an interview on Thursday that he would pay $38,000 for second place to Pletcher’s horse Mind Control at Parks Racecourse on Sept. 24, 2022. Said they couldn’t collect. Linder told Jeff Matti: , the secretary general of the Thoroughbred Horsemen Association of Pennsylvania, told him that the money was withheld pending a verdict for failing the exam.
Matty didn’t answer the phone.
“I’ve had drug abuse and it sucks,” Linder said. “But you move forward responsibly. You have to handle it in a reasonable amount of time. Money is important to someone like me who wears small clothes.”