Owner Moss to Defend Trainer Asmussen

Owner Moss to Defend Trainer Asmussen
Photo: Matt Goins
Maggi Moss
Prominent horse owner Maggi Moss will end her 1 ½-year sabbatical from practicing law to defend leading trainer Steve Asmussen in a Texas case after one of his horses tested positive for a prohibited substance.

Moss, who took an indefinite leaving from her Des Moines, Iowa law practice to build her Thoroughbred stable into the upper echelon of North American racing, is the nation’s fourth-leading owner of 2008 with stable earnings of nearly $2.4 million. She was the leading owner of 2006 by number of wins. Asmussen, one of the trainers employed by Moss, leads the country with stable earnings of $11.7 million.

Moss, who will serve as co-counsel for Asmussen along with New York-based Karen Murphy, said she has several reasons for returning to take on this case, including the rash of publicity surrounding charges brought against Asmussen and other prominent trainers for alleged medication offenses.

“I think this is much bigger than Steve,” Moss said June 27. “I am taking  it on for the love of racing because I don’t like the way things are going. This is getting very big. I think there a lot of misunderstandings.”

Among the areas of concern to Moss are “the antiquation of (testing) labs, lack of uniformity in rules and testing, and that the media and general public thinks we are all bunch of dopers and cheaters. This is a welcome case to try and do something about it.”

According to the Texas Racing Commission, the Asmussen-trained 2-year-old filly Timber Trick tested positive for the prohibited substance hydroxylidocaine, a metabolite of lidocaine after winning a maiden race at Lone Star Park on May 10. The penalty for such a violation is a fine ranging from $1,500-$2,500 and a suspension of six months to one year, plus a loss of the winning purse. A July 18 hearing date has been set.

According to a statement from the commission, the "Texas Rules of Racing clearly state that a horse may not have any level of a prohibited drug, chemical or other substance, regardless of classification, in its body on race day, except for permissible levels of phenylbutazone and furosemide."

“I also believe in Steve’s innocence,” Moss said. “Being the leading trainer in the country and having Curlin, It would be ludicrous for him to give lidocaine to a 2-year-old filly who is going off at 1-5 odds. Nothing about this makes sense.”

Moss said there are also other issues involved in this case, noting that the Texas commission denied Asmussen’s request to also have the blood sample taken from the horse also tested, to quantify the level of the drug in the system. The commission also did not grant a request by the trainer to have both the blood and urine tests sent to Louisiana State University’s lab for confirmation testing; instead, a split  sample  of the urine was sent to Industrial Laboratories in Denver.

“Let’s move horse racing into the 21st Century,” Moss said, referring to what she believes are outmoded procedures for drug testing.

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