Jennifer Pedersen, one of the top female trainers in the country, has been suspended for 60 days by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, according to a ruling released March 4. Meanwhile, owner Ernie Paragallo, for whom Pedersen trains, claims his barn is being targeted by investigators.
The 42-year old Pedersen was found to have improperly labeled injectibles during a routine search of her barn. About a dozen barns at Aqueduct and Belmont Park have been searched in the last week.
The ruling finds Pedersen in violation of a regulation that essentially limits the possession of injectibles to licensed and practicing veterinarians.
Pedersen has appealed the suspension and will continue to train under a stay. Because of the appeal, NYSRWB steward Carmine Donofrio was unable to comment on exactly what was found in Pedersen's barn.
Ernie Paragallo, who owns the horses trained by Pedersen and races under the Paraneck Stables name, said all of the items found were legal and were under lock and key in a refrigerator maintained by Dr. Babette Gladstein, a staff veterinarian for Paraneck.
"It was all non performance-enhancing, everyday stuff you use on horses," Paragallo said. The substances included penicillin, Banamine, and various vaccines. "Everything was labeled through the manufacturer."
Paragallo believes his barn is being targeted because New York Racing Association investigators haven't been able to turn up damning evidence against trainers since Greg Martin was arrested earlier this year for his alleged involvement in a betting ring that included the milkshaking of a horse in 2003.
"I've had investigators in my barn for the last three months," Paragallo said. "I'd feel foolish, too, if I couldn't find anything. I read all the rules from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. And according to the rules, we're in violation of nothing."
Said Pedersen in an interview with the New York Post
: "It was anything you would use for medicinal purposes. They said it wasn't properly labeled, but they didn't ask the right questions."
In 2003, Pedersen collected the biggest victory of her career when New York Hero won the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park for Paragallo. Pedersen was later represented by New York Hero in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course.
Last year, she saddled Song of the Sword to an 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby for Paragallo. She entered the March 4 program at Aqueduct with 14 winners, good for ninth in the standings at the current meet.