The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s license review committee has suspended the lead outrider at Keeneland Racecourse for 16 months for his role in training a horse that raced in the name of a licensed trainer.
The action by the KHRC panel came following a three-hour hearing that included testimony from all parties related to the April 26 incident in which the horse Superstardom ran at Keeneland in the name of trainer Larry Lay. The horse, who finished third in the race, tested positive for the prohibited substance clenbuterol. The positive drug test led to a subsequent investigation that revealed the horse was trained by Keeneland outrider John Neal but was entered under Lay’s name. As a licensed outrider, Neal is unable to be licensed to train horses.
Neal was initially suspended 30 days by Keeneland stewards and ordered to appear before the KHRC’s licensing committee for his role in the incident. Lay was also suspended for 30 days for the drug violation. Although the Aug. 15 meeting of the license review committee was scheduled to consider Neal’s request to be relicensed, all of the parties involved testified before the panel about the circumstances surrounding the training and entry of Superstardom.
The committee determined that Neal is not eligible for licensing until Jan. 1, 2014, and must reapply then if he wants to be relicensed, according to the Marc Guilfoil, deputy executive director of the KHRC.
Carol Renn, the licensed horse identifier at Keeneland and other Kentucky tracks, told the committee that she was aware Neal was the trainer of the horse and that it was entered in Lay’s name. Renn, who was suspended for a week by the Kentucky stewards, said she did not believe that she should have been disciplined for not reporting that she knew a horse was entered under the name of a "paper trainer." During the hearing, Renn acknowledged she and Neal have a relationship.
The term "paper trainer" refers to a horse entered in a race in the name of trainer who does not actually train the horse. It is sometimes also called a "program trainer."
Also testifying Aug. 15 were Mark Shireman, owner of Superstardom, and Lay.
Lay said he knew it was wrong to enter a horse he does not train under his name, but that he did it as a favor to Neal. Lay initially appealed his suspension, but has since dropped it and is scheduled to begin serving the 30-day ban from training Aug. 16.
Lay said the only time he saw Superstardom was the day of the race and that he only met owner Shireman that day. Lay said he had not been paid for entering the horse in his name and that he was undecided on whether to accept an offer from the owner to pay him up to $3,000 to cover his lost income during the 30-day suspension.
None of those who testified before the license review committee could explain how Superstardom was administered the clenbuterol. Guilfoil said the level of the prohibited drug in the horse’s post-race test was nearly five times the allowable limit under Kentucky racing regulations. With no indication that any of those involved with the horse were trying to have financial gain from betting, Guilfoil suggested that the administration of the drug could have been done by someone who was trying to get back at Lay or some of the others involved with the horse.
Shireman, who said he is a newcomer to horse racing, bet $2 to win on his horse.
The licensing review committee said the investigation is continuing and additional disciplinary is possible.