by Karen M. Johnson
New York-based trainer Gary Sciacca was suspended 120 days by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, effective Nov. 19, for his connection to the administration of a prohibited substance on race day to one of his horses in 2003.
Sciacca was out of the country June 28, 2003, when a New York Racing Association investigator said he saw veterinarian Dr. John McGuire; Sciacca’s assistant, Paul Barone; and stable foreman, Oscar DeLeon, give Storm River Kelly sodium bicarbonate and electrolytes, commonly referred to as a “milkshake,” the morning the horse was scheduled to race. The horse, which was stabled at Belmont Park, was scratched.
The bicarbonate of soda mixture, which is believed to alleviate fatigue, is not a banned substance, but it is illegal to administer on the day a horse is to race. Sciacca said another horse, in an adjacent stall, was supposed to receive the milkshake.
Even though Sciacca, 47, wasn’t present at the time of the incident, under the trainer responsibility rule, he was culpable for any illegal activity that took place in his absence.
Barone began serving his 120-suspension Nov. 11. McGuire, who is no longer practicing because of health issues, was given a 180-day suspension and a $1,000 fine. DeLeon served his 45-day suspension in 2006.
At the time of the milkshaking incident, Barone, McGuire, and DeLeon were arrested by Nassau County police and charged with the tampering of a sports contest. The charges were later dropped.
According to Daily Racing Form, trainer Gary Gullo has taken over the training of Sciacca’s 16 horses.