Stewards at Turfway Park have slapped trainer Bret Calhoun with a 30-day suspension after a horse in his care tested positive for the prohibited anti-hypertension drug Guanabenz following a win at Churchill Downs May 26.
Calhoun was also fined $500 because the horse, 4-year-old Make a Fortune, was found to have exceeded the allowable level for the anti-bleeder medication furosemide as well. Make a Fortune was disqualified from the victory and placed last. The winner's share of $26,000 was revoked and a purse redistribution ordered.
Calhoun is to serve his suspension for the "Class B" violation from Oct. 8 to Nov. 6 under the order issued through the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Sept. 25.
His attorney, Karen Murphy, said the 48-year-old trainer was protecting the health and welfare of the horse on the recommendation of a veterinarian for treatment of a serious condition. She noted that Calhoun has never had a rule violation of any kind in Kentucky.
“I was penalized by the stewards for protecting the health and safety of my horse. This is not justice,” Calhoun said in a statement.
Calhoun does not intend to appeal the ruling at this time.
Guanabenz, a centrally acting drug, is used to reduce the blood pressure in the horse's pulmonary circulatory tract and thereby reduces the incidence and/or severity of exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
Make a Fortune, a $160,000 yearling purchase owned by Mary and Gary West, was making his debut in the May 26 race, a maiden special weight event at Churchill. The Elusive Quality colt has a serious bleeding problem and was not raced at 3 in order to protect him, according to Murphy. The attorney reported that Make a Fortune was withdrawn from the medication four days prior to racing.
The findings were made by the official testing laboratory of the KHRC and confirmed by the Louisiana Sate University Equine Medication Surveillance Laboratory, according to the stewards.