CHRB, Trainer Enter Agreement Over Positive

The California Horse Racing Board has entered into an agreement in which trainer Genaro Vallejo will be suspended 90 days and fined $3,000 for a medication violation dating to July 2012.

According to the agreement, 60 days of the suspension will be stayed provided Vallejo commits no further Class 1, 2, or 3 violations during the term of his probation.

The case started with a positive test for zilpaterol following a victory by Red Dwarf in the seventh race at Golden Gate Fields on April 12, 2012, resulting in the horse's disqualification by stewards. According to the CHRB, zilpaterol is typically used in livestock production to promote lean muscle growth. At the time, ziplaterol was a Class 1 drug, as it was not categorized under CHRB rules at the time of the violation and an uncategorized drug is Class 1 by default. At the time of the violation, zilpaterol was classified by the Association of Racing Commissioners International as Class 3 drug with a Class A penalty. The CHRB updated the drug classification to be in agreement with ARCI in August 2012 and designated zilpaterol as a Class 3 drug.

Following a series of hearings from November 2012 to February 2013, the Golden Gate stewards recommended the CHRB suspend Vallejo for one year and fine him $10,000, the minimum penalties for Class 1 violations.

After meeting in closed session May 23, 2013, the CHRB rejected the proposed decision and approved an order for the board of stewards at Golden Gate to consider additional evidence, according to a CHRB timeline of the case.

The CHRB said Vallejo's attorney and a deputy attorney general then began settlement negotiations, with the legal staff of the board considered the following issues, according to a statement accompanying the agreement:

"Feed produced by Purina at the Turlock, Calif., plant was found to be contaminated by zilpaterol beginning in February 2013. The CHRB dismissed a large number of zilpaterol violations in the Purina contamination incident.

In the late spring there was a rash of zilpaterol positives in Hong Kong from feed milled in northern California unrelated to the Purina incident.

While the Red Dwarf positive occurred well before these feed contaminations, Vallejo's attorney raised the contamination issue as a central argument.

Although the equine medical director stresses to CHRB investigators the need to always collect feed samples at the time the trainer is notified and the barn searched in zilpaterol cases, for reasons unknown the investigator in the Vallejo matter did not collect feed samples during the initial barn search. Feed collected and tested two weeks later was negative for zilpaterol.

Zilpaterol at the time of the Vallejo violation (April 2012) was a Class 1 drug as it was not categorized under CHRB rules at the time of the violation. An uncategorized drug is Class 1 by default. At the time of the violation, zilpaterol was an ARCI Class 3 drug with a Class A penalty. Beginning in August 2012, the CHRB updated the drug classification to be in agreement with ARCI classifications at the time. That included zilpaterol being designated as a Class 3 drug.

In July, the CHRB settled the Vod Farris zilpaterol case at Los Alamitostreating it as a Class 3 violationwith a 90-day suspension but 60 days stayed, plus a $3,000 fine. The proposed settlement in the Vallejo case was consistent with the Farris case."

"All of these considerations made the Vallejo case more challenging to sustain on appeal, so the settlement agreement was reached and presented to CHRB chairman David Israel for his approval." the CHRB statement said. "While Class 1 settlement proposals are submitted to the full Board for approval, Class 3 cases are submitted to the chairman. The legal staff of the board reasoned that in fairness to the licensee in particular and the industry in general, the case should proceed in accordance with the rules and laws in effect at the time of the settlement, which meant treating this case as a Class 3 violation."

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