The 2012 Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) win by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's filly Sign was reinstated following a settlement announced July 17 by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Sign, a daughter of Pulpit, finished first in last year's Pocahontas Oct. 28 at Churchill Downs but she was disqualified to last and purse money was forfeited after a positive test for the muscle relaxer methocarbamol (Robaxin). Owners Claiborne and Dilschneider, along with trainer Al Stall Jr., appealed the stewards' disqualification.
Methocarbamol, a therapeutic drug to treat sore backs and muscle strain, is listed in the lowest of three penalty classes under the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances. In presenting their appeal before a hearing officer May 21-22, Sign's connections argued that the stewards did not need to disqualify their filly.
At those hearings, Kentucky Chief steward Barbara Borden acknowledged they were only seeking to give the connections the minimum sanctions but said an updated medication rule in Kentucky required a purse forfeiture for a class C (lowest level) violation as a minimum penalty. But David Royse, representing Sign's owners, said the stewards were mistaken in their belief that they were obligated to include a disqualification (and resulting purse forfeiture) as a minimum requirement of the current KHRC rule.
In key testimony, KHRC executive director John Ward acknowledged the rule on the books is substantively different from what the KHRC intended when it passed the current rules on Class C penalties. Changes to the KHRC rule's language were made by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission that Ward said altered the KHRC's intentions.
Under Wednesday's settlement, the disqualifications and purse redistributions originally ordered in the stewards' ruling were rescinded. Stall admitted to two Class C medication violations involving Sign and Upon Reflection in a Nov. 7 maiden-claiming race at Churchill. The agreement with Stall provides that he shall be held responsible for the two Class C medication violations and fined a total of $1,500.
According to Ward, the KHRC undertook a comprehensive and rigorous review of its medication regulations and penalties in 2012 for the purpose of improving the horseracing industry in Kentucky and enhancing confidence in the integrity of the sport.
"In the process of amending the regulation, however, certain technical revisions in the process resulted in a misapplication of the regulation." Ward said. "The commission believes the disqualification and redistribution of the purse is discretionary rather than mandatory under this regulation."
Also July 17, the KHRC announced that it reached an agreement with trainer Brian Lynch in his appeal of a stewards' ruling for a Class C medication violation involving an overage of methocarbamol.
The offense occurred on Oct. 19, 2012 at Keeneland. The settlement agreement with Lynch provides that he shall be held responsible for the Class C medication violation and imposes the maximum fine of $500. The disqualification and purse redistribution originally ordered in the stewards' ruling is rescinded.
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