Jim Squires, the owner of Two Bucks Stable, has issued a statement that he will fight a positive test for Clenbuterol at Delaware Park.
Squires said he was informed June 17 that a horse he bred and owns, Stones River, had a higher than allowable level of Clenbuterol in his system following a June 8 allowance victory.
Larry Jones, who trains Stones River, said it would be premature to comment on the situation because he has requested a split sample of the test be sent to another lab for confirmation.
John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, said it is the regulatory body’s policy not to comment on pending cases until they are adjudicated by stewards and action is taken by the commission.
Squires said he wanted to be the first to report the incident, which he described as “highly suspicious” since the positive was reported to him two days before the congressional hearings on the horse racing industry. Squires said the finding is the first positive for Jones during the trainer’s 25-year career. Jones was cast into the public spotlight last month after the filly he trains, Eight Belles, died following her second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Subsequent tests conducted on the filly showed that she was not racing on steroids or any illegal medications at the time of her death.
“That a Two Bucks Stable horse in his care has become the first drug positive in his career in the highly charged atmosphere during the week of a congressional investigation focusing on drugs and safety in horse racing is highly suspicious,” Squires said. “It reeks of a deliberate effort to impugn our credibility on the subject of drugs and damage the reputation of a highly successful trainer who has been unfairly and mistakenly blamed by a few critics outside the industry for the death of Eight Belles, whose autopsy tested free of illegal substances.
“In the controversy following the death of his Kentucky Derby entry Eight Belles, Larry Jones and I have both been prominent in the media voicing our support for the banning of steroids in the Thoroughbred industry and of more vigorous, uniform regulation of therapeutic drugs such as Clenbuterol, which can have steroidal effects,” said the statement from Squires, an owner and breeder and a former member of the Kentucky Racing Commission.
Squires was one of a number of persons blogging for the New York Times during the Triple Crown. He was an outspoken critic of the use of medications in racing.
“Delaware has a 72-hour clearance rule concerning Clenbuterol, which means if given prior to that interval it should have cleared the horse’s system by race time,” Squires said. “Many successful trainers, including Jones, routinely use Clenbuterol or some derivative to treat respiratory illness or clear a horse’s lungs before a work or before a race. Some horses don’t clear it as fast as others. Stones River does not appear to be one of those. He has always tested clean in the past, most recently when he broke his maiden May 10 at Delaware at the same distance in similar time and fashion as he did June 10…. Larry Jones has assured us that to his knowledge Stones River has never received Clenbuterol any closer to race time than 96 hours. That he has suddenly tested high more likely reflects the need for more security around track backsides and testing barns.”
Squires cited an incident in 2007 when a sponge was placed in the nostril of a Jones-trained horse at Delaware Park as indication that there is a need for additional security.
“Larry Jones was clearly the target of sabotage in 2007 at Delaware Park where in an obvious and successful attempt to fix a race someone placed a sponge in the nose of one of his horses that was a clear favorite. No one was ever caught. Only the horse, her owners and Jones, who is having another successful meet this year, paid a penalty for the crime,” he said.
While he and Jones recognize the need for the “absolute insurer rule” in racing that holds the trainer responsible for all actions relating to a horse in his stable, Squires said it sometimes unfairly penalizes trainers.
“This test result on Stones River appears to be another miscarriage of justice in the offing, which we plan to challenge in every legal way possible,” he said. “Holding Jones responsible for something beyond his control only aids and abets criminal behavior by people intent on hurting a competitor in particular or our industry in general. It will demonstrate once again how easy it is in Thoroughbred racing to impact a trainer’s livelihood and discredit both a horse and its owners.
“We have faith in the integrity of Delaware racing authorities and their interest in fair treatment. But we also are aware how staff and budget resources limit the ability of regulators to conduct thorough, successful criminal investigations. If this were a case of cheating in NASCAR or the NFL, there would be a commissioner with full authority and investigative expertise to step in and get to the bottom of it. In view of the highly charged public atmosphere surrounding the credibility of racing, the full resources of the Jockey Club, the NTRA, Breeders’ Cup and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association should be offered to the Delaware Racing Commission and the Department of Agriculture to assure a fair and credible resolution of this matter. If necessary, the entire purse from the race should be used to supplement required resources. As an owner, Two Bucks Stable is far more interested in the credibility of our horse, our trainer and our industry than we are the money.”
Stones River is a 3-year-old colt by Monarchos out of the Silver Buck mare Little Bold Belle. Squires bred 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos. He races Stones River in partnership with Ashbrook Farm.
Stones River has won two of five starts and earned $52,785. He is a half-brother to grade I winner Unbridled Belle, by Broken Vow, who recently won the Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park and will try to take the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) for the second straight year.