By Raymond Whelan
The Texas Racing Commission voted 4-2 Wednesday to suspend James Donnan 60 days from his owner's license for submitting an incorrect Texas-bred accreditation statement to the Texas Thoroughbred Association for Chauffe Au Rouge, who went on to win two stakes races restricted to Texas Thoroughbreds.
Last year, Donnan claimed Chauffe Au Rouge and assigned Cole Norman to train the 6-year-old horse. Chauffe Au Rouge then won the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes on Oct. 6 at Retama Park, and the $50,000 Richard King Handicap on Dec. 1 at Sam Houston Race Park. But later, the Board of Stewards disqualified Chauffe Au Rouge and placed him ninth in both races, because they discovered Red Attack -- the sire of Chauffe Au Rouge -- was not an accredited Texas stallion.
Moreover, the stewards found Donnan could not prove anyone had intended to breed High Rent -- the dam to Chauffe Au Rouge -- to another accredited Texas stallion.
Earlier this year, Chauffe Au Rouge had his winnings from the Texas Hall of Fame Stakes and Richard King Handicap redistributed, and the TTA decertified him as a Texas-bred. Chauffe Au Rouge is still listed by the Jockey Club as bred in Texas by M L Courter.
Also at the meeting, the commission unanimously agreed to renew its contract with the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory to conduct drug testing on racehorses and greyhounds in Texas next year.
TRC Executive Secretary Paula Flowerday told the commission the laboratory based at Texas A&M University submitted the lone bid for the contract, even though requests for proposals were sent to other testing centers throughout the nation. Flowerday added the laboratory plans to raise its fee for equine testing services from $64.75 to $70 per sample.
In another matter, the commission decided to let Manor Downs switch to a mixed meet program during April 2003, instead of the original schedule that called for two weekends of Quarter Horse racing, followed by two weekends of Thoroughbred racing. Representatives from the Texas Thoroughbred Association, the Texas Quarter Horse Association and the Texas Horsemen's Partnership indicated their support for the program change.