The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has scheduled a Dec. 3 hearing to consider the appeal of Dr. Rodney Stewart, who was suspended five years in September 2007 for multiple violations of the state’s medication regulations.
Stewart’s appeal will be heard by hearing officer Bob Layton, and attorney Bob Watt will represent the commission. At the hearing, Stewart will likely appear and will be represented by attorneys Mike Meuser and Karen Murphy.
Following the hearing, Layton will compile a report that will be considered by the full commission, likely some time in early 2009.
The disciplinary action against Stewart stemmed from a June 22, 2007 raid by KHRC (then known as the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority) investigators on three barns of trainer Patrick Biancone at Keeneland racecourse. Among the substances found on the premises was cobra venom, which is prohibited in Kentucky for use in Thoroughbreds.
Biancone recently completed the terms of his suspension in connection with the case. Under an agreement with the commission, Biancone was prohibited from training horses for six months, while agreeing not to seek a trainer’s license for an additional six months. He was permitted to train horses on private property. The commission subsequently ruled that Biancone violated the terms of his suspension agreement and under agreement by both parties the suspension was extended through Oct. 31, 2008.
Biancone has begun training again, with a small stable in Southern California.
Stewart was suspended for four years for possession of three sealed vials of alpha-cobratoxin, or cobra venom, a substance used to kill pain. The substance is a Class A medication under the KHRA Uniform Drug and Medication Classification Schedule. Stewart was additionally suspended for one year for the possession of carbidopa and levodopa, both also Class A medications. Both drugs are used to treat Parkinson's disease in humans. The suspensions will run consecutively.
In addition, the stewards ordered Stewart to serve a 60-day suspension for a variety of violations relating to the possession of medications without proper labeling. This suspension may be served concurrently with the five years Stewart is suspended for the alpha-cobratoxin and carbidopa and levodopa violations.
Stewart was also suspended for 60 days for breaking two regulations that require the reporting of violations of medication rules to stewards or the KHRA veterinarian. The stewards found that Stewart was aware Biancone was in possession of alpha-cobratoxin, injectables, and improperly labeled medications, all violations of Kentucky regulations, and failed to report the violations.
The penalty for each non-reporting violation is a 30-day suspension or a $1,000 fine that may be accepted in lieu of a suspension. The suspensions for non-reporting may be served concurrently with the five years Stewart is suspended for the alpha-cobratoxin and carbidopa and levodopa violations.