WV Court Upholds Penalties for Trainer Grove

The case involved a Class 1 drug positive in a horse that raced at Charles Town.

A circuit court in West Virginia has upheld the penalties levied against trainer Chris Grove for a Class 1 positive at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in 2012.

The Circuit Court of Kanawha County Jan. 24 issued its decision affirming the action taken against Grove by the West Virginia Racing Commission on the recommendation of a hearing officer. Grove's attorney had challenged the racing commission's use of the absolute insurer rule in the case.

Grove was suspended six months and fined $5,000 for the Class 1 positive. Tests detected levels of Nikethamide, a stimulant that affects the respiratory system. The horse that tested positive was Bubba de France, who competed in a $5,000 claiming race with an $11,000 purse.

The case is of note because it never was determined who administered the drug. Grove wasn't at Charles Town, and investigators found no evidence his assistant, Misael Ceciliano, administered the drug, according to court documents.

The court record states Bubba de France was left alone in his stall from about 1 p.m. until the time furosemide was administered for that night's races. Only "general track security" was in the area, the record states.

Grove, who also sought $75,000 in damages, had challenged the absolute insurer rule, which holds a trainer responsible in such cases.

"This court finds no basis to overturn this exercise of discretion (by the WVRC) upon appeal," Judge Charles King said.