The California Horse Racing Board on Dec. 19 advised the Santa Anita stewards to disqualify Masochistic following a positive test for the anabolic steroid stanozolol and/or its metabolite 16-hydroxy stanozolol in both blood and urine post-race samples. The action will result in a forfeiture of the $255,000 purse for owners Los Pollos Hermanos Racing and Jay Em Ess Stable and likely sanctions for trainer Ron Ellis.
Ellis said he was aware that a stanozolol treatment 68 days before the race was lingering in Masochistic's system. Ellis, who apologized to Breeders' Cup, said pre-race tests were conducted to determine if the drug had cleared the system of the 6-year-old Sought After gelding.
"I apologize to the Breeders Cup and the racing industry for this unfortunate event," Ellis said. "I understand and respect the ramifications of CHRB regulations and trust I will be treated fairly under the circumstances."
The CHRB investigation into this matter is ongoing. Ellis acknowledges the accuracy of the post-race test conducted at Maddy Laboratory at U.C. Davis and the Dec. 16 positive finding from the split sample at Industrial Laboratories. He said Masochistic received the treatment shortly after his 3 3/4-length victory in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 27 at Del Mar.
"I acknowledge that Masochistic tested positive for very low picogram levels of stanozolol after the Breeders' Cup Sprint," Ellis said. "The medication was administered on the recommendation of my veterinarian for the therapeutic purposes of recovering from bleeding and weight loss stemming from his Aug. 27 race at Del Mar. Unfortunately the medication that was given intramuscular 68 days before the Breeders Cup lingered in his system."
Ellis noted that regulatory officials were aware of the situation before the race.
"No sinister purpose was involved as the injection was given outside of the recommended 60-day guidelines and registered with the state as required," he said. "The dissipation of the drug was abnormally slow and monitored by the Equine Medical Director in three 'out of competition' tests leading up the race. The last of those tests, taken eight days prior to the race, showed there were still some picogram amounts of the drug in his system.
"I was informed by the Equine Medical Director three days before the race that he was concerned there was a chance of a positive test on race day. We tried to run another test on him but couldn't find a lab that could test to such low levels in time. So after conferring with top veterinarians and considering picograms are a trillionth of a gram and that he had eight days to clear such a small amount, it was decided Masochistic would 'most likely' come out with a clear test."
Stanozolol is a Class 3 substance, which ranks in the middle in terms of substances of concern on the five-class Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances. The anabolic steroid stanozolol (commonly referred to as Winstrol, although Winstrol is no longer produced) falls in the Class B penalty category, the second-highest on the ARCI classification.
Stanozolol currently is only available as a compounded form, which is one of the reasons it is not included in the National Uniform Medication Program's list of controlled therapeutic substances. Potency of compounded substances can vary, making it difficult to determine a withdrawal time.
Ellis said he hopes the stewards consider his clean record and pre-race efforts when considering a penalty. A Class B category substance calls for a minimum 15-day suspension and minimum $500 fine absent mitigating circumstances.