Trainer Steve Asmussen was notified June 26 that a horse in his care tested positive for the Class 2 substance lidocaine following a May 10 maiden special weight race at Lone Star Park, and his lawyer said Asmussen would fight the charge.
The horse in question is the 3-year-old filly Timber Trick (Forestry--March Magic, by Evansville Slew) who races for Gainesway Stable. She won the May 10 race by seven lengths in her sixth career start. The filly has since raced once , finishing second in a June 6 allowance contest, also at Lone Star.
New York-based attorney Karen Murphy, who is representing Asmussen, said the Texas Racing Commission has neglected to provide critical information in the case, including the quantification of the positive. She also said the commission denied Asmussen’s request to have the split sample tested at the Louisiana State University laboratory.
The sample was then sent to Industrial Laboratories in Colorado, and the results have not been returned.
“We asked for a specific lab and that was denied, and then we asked for, in connection with the split, that there be quantification made of the urine, and that we also have access to the blood to do the same because the blood gives you a better reading and all of that was denied,” Murphy said. “(The Texas commission) said (the amount of lidocaine in the system) did not matter. Yes, it does matter. It will be our initial fight because lidocaine is something that is prevalent in the environment. It is in many over-the-counter products, so it has that environmental contamination aspect to it.
"The only way you can really be sure is to know how much is there. We will further that argument and hopefully not only get quantification of the urine, but have access to the blood that was taken from our horse and get a quantity from that as well.”
A call to Jean Cook, public information officer for the TRC, was not immediately returned. Murphy said a stewards hearing is tentatively scheduled for July 18.
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for performance-enhancing drugs, meaning the presence in a post-race sample of any prohibited substance is considered a violation. Lidocaine is listed as a Class 2 substance in Texas under the category of drugs that could have therapeutic uses but also have a high potential for abuse. The recommended penalty for a Class 2 substance is six months to a year suspension, up to a $1,500 fine, and loss of purse money.
Asmussen, who conditions Horse of the Year Curlin, was hit with a six-month suspension from July 10, 2006, to Jan. 10, 2007, after a horse in his care tested positive for the anesthetic mepivicaine in Louisiana. The suspension was served concurrently with another after one of his horses in New Mexico came back positive for acepromazine.