The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission postponed taking action Oct. 27 on trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s suspension and sent his case back to a hearing officer to gather more information.
The move came after hearing officer James Robke found there was insufficent evidence to punish Dutrow after one of his horses, Salute the Count, had an excessive amount of the legal drug clenbuterol in his system. The finding came one day before the Dutrow-trained Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I).
This summer, the KHRC found Dutrow in violation and suspended him for 15 days, but Dutrow appealed to the hearing officer. Robke said in his report the KHRC “has not met its burden” to prove by a “preponderance of evidence” the factual allegations against Dutrow were true, and that the sanctions were appropriate.
Robke issued his recommendation Oct. 7; the parties had 15 days to file exceptions. The KHRC said it would challenge the ruling.
Clenbuterol allows horses to breathe easier while exercising. Its use is legal at low levels, but the drug is considered to be performance-enhancing at higher doses.
Iowa State University, which does equine drug testing for the KHRC, and Louisiana State University, which tested the split sample from Salute the Count, detected 41 picograms per milliliter and 40 pg/ml, respectively, in plasma. Robke’s report said the KHRC failed to prove the samples were in excess of the threshold of 25 pg/ml in serum, as stated in racing rules.
No evidence was presented to explain the difference between plasma and serum, the report said.