A board of three stewards at Santa Anita Park ruled that no penalty should be assessed against trainer Jesus (Jesse) Mendoza for a morphine positive found in a horse he trained in June, 2000. The Jan. 10 ruling stated that Mendoza had "mitigated the circumstances of the charge."
The purse money earned by Golden General, who finished second in a Hollywood Park allowance race, was re-distributed, costing Black Racing Stable and Hillbrooks Farm, the horse's owners, $10,200.
"The stewards did something that was appropriate, right on the facts, correct on the law, and correct on the science," said Steve Schwartz, Mendoza's attorney and himself a Thoroughbred trainer. "They did the right thing."
Mendoza's positive came in the same two-month period when positives were called against high-profile trainers Bob Baffert and Bobby Frankel. The stewards ordered a 60-day suspension be imposed against Baffert, a decision that was recently stayed by a U.S. District Court judge. Frankel's case has yet to be heard.
Schwartz put on a case for Mendoza that was heavy on expert witnesses calling the morphine positive a result of contamination as opposed to the trainer having administered the chemical. Dr. B. William Bell, the official California Horse Racing Board veterinarian, testified that there was a reasonable probability Golden General's positive was the result of contamination. Dr. Rick Arthur, an advisor to the CHRB's medication committee, concurred.