Trainer Julio Canani became the third person facing a California Horse Racing Board complaint regarding the health and activities of Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) favorite Sweet Catomine during the week prior to the April 9 race.
Canani, Sweet Catomine's conditioner until owner Martin Wygod transferred the filly to another stable earlier this week, likely faces a fine if the complaint is upheld, said deputy attorney general James Ahern, who is representing the CHRB. The violations also carry the possibility of license suspension or revocation.
"It's not that severe," Ahern said in assessing the overall situation. "None of these individuals are constantly violating CHRB rules. I'd say fines are what they are looking at. We haven't even discussed license suspension or at the extreme, revocation."
Canani's administrative hearing is set for May 1 with stewards at Hollywood Park.
On April 11, the CHRB filed complaints against Wygod and Dean Kerkhoff, a racehorse transport driver. The CHRB alleges the champion filly was falsely identified to the stable gate guard as a "pony" when she left Santa Anita at 3 a.m. April 4 for special medical treatment and again when she returned to the stable area the following night. An administrative hearing in that case will be held April 23 at Hollywood Park.
The CHRB has filed three charges against Canani, who was served with the complaint at his stable early Saturday morning, according to Ahern. The allegations mostly stem from the early-morning van ride.
Sweet Catomine was transported to the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos, about 45 miles north of Santa Barbara, where she underwent specialized treatment to help with internal bleeding without the use of medications. According to Ahern, the filly was given four treatments six hours apart in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. She was returned to Santa Anita at 8:29 p.m. April 5, and again identified as a "pony" returning from a "clinic."
Canani is alleged to have violated Rule 1887 (a) as the absolute insurer of the condition of a horse; Rule 1489 (c) for making material misrepresentations or false statements to the CHRB or its agents; and Rule 1902 for engaging in conduct detrimental to horseracing.
Ahern said that Canani was ultimately responsible, regardless of whether he consented to Wygod's action. He noted that Sweet Catomine had suffered internal bleeding in a workout prior to the trip to Alamo Pintado, and they wanted to prevent further problems.
"They wanted to help her without using drugs and that wasn't wrong. He (Canani) should have notified the association (Los Angeles Turf Club) and the CHRB of what they were doing," he said. "The point here is there was some level of deception going on. This is not a $12,000 claiming horse. It was the favorite for the Santa Anita Derby. They were trying to deceive the association and the CHRB, whatever their reason."