Juan Serey, the leading trainer in New York in 2000, had his license suspended for 90 days and was fined $2,000 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board Wednesday for two ergonovine positives in December 1999.
Ergonvine is used in conjunction with Lasix to preventexercise-induced bleeding. It is listed as a Class 4 drug by Racing Commissioners International and has a recommended penalty of a 15-day suspension.
In February 2000, Serey was given a total suspension of 120 days for the positives. He lost his appeal and the suspension and fine were announced at the board's regular monthly meeting in Albany, N.Y.
"This board cannot tolerate cheating," board member Cheryl Buley said. "I do think that when there is a new test we need to hand down penalties that serve as a real deterent."
Serey, 52, was out of the country, visiting his family in Chile, when a new test being used in New York detected ergonovine in samples taken from Unreal Madness after a race on Dec. 26 and Outburst on Dec. 29. At the time, Serey's barn was being managed by his assistant, Victor Cuadro. However, the independent hearing officer who handled the case, Donald D. DeAngelis, determined that Serey was in violation of a trainer responsibility rule. DeAngelis did not propose a penalty in his report. Board member Joseph Neglia recommended that Serey be suspended for 120 days, but Buley suggested 90 days, to be served concurrently, for each positive, and the fine.
Serey's attorney, Karen Murphy, said the decision to hold Serey responsible even though he had notified the stewards and track officials that he would be out of the country and Cuardo was in charge, violated a policy followed in the state for 25 years.
"We're appealing," Murphy said. "He absolutely will not take 90 days. He did nothing wrong, wasn't here. It's unprecedented in terms of prior rulings in the United States."
Murphy said she will take the case to court once she is formally notified of the board's decision.
"This is kind of a textbook definition of arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretions, which is what the state court judges will look at," she said.