Sign in the Pocahontas Stakes.

Sign in the Pocahontas Stakes.

Reed Palmer Photography, Churchill Downs

Hearing Officer to Consider DQ of Sign

Owners argue sanctions should not have included purse forfeiture, disqualification.

A Kentucky hearing officer will review a decision to disqualify Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's Sign from victory in the 2012 Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs following a positive test for methocarbamol (Robaxin).

Attorney David Royse, who is representing Claiborne and trainer Al Stall Jr., said the stewards misunderstood the minimum penalties required for a positive for methocarbamol when they included purse forfeiture in their penalties. Methocarbamol, a muscle relaxer commonly used in horses to treat sore backs, muscle strain, and spasms, is listed in the lowest of three penalty classes under the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances.

Chief steward Barbara Borden said an updated medication rule in Kentucky requires a purse forfeiture for a class C (lowest level) violation.

On May 20 before hearing officer Robert Layton, Royse argued the stewards incorrectly read the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission rule to require, as a minimum sanction, the forfeiture of the purse.

Borden said the rule was updated in August 2012 and that other than a few specific exceptions that do not require purse forfeiture (phenylbutazone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), the stewards are required to disqualify the horse and the purse is forfeited. She said purse forfeiture has been included as a sanction in 11 class C positives that have come since the rule was updated.

The hearing is scheduled to continue at 8:30 a.m. May 21 at the KHRC offices at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Royse also argued that in a report of the positive test, Kentucky's testing lab HFL Sports Science Laboratory did not include the positive level and asked Layton to dismiss the case because he said the KHRC rule requires such reporting. Representing the KHRC, attorney Luke Morgan said only the report is necessary to meet the standards of the rule. Layton did not dismiss the case but said he will consider the argument when he reviews it.

Layton also is considering sanctions Stall is facing following a second positive for methocarbamol in Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Upon Reflection following a victory in a Nov. 7 maiden claiming race at Churchill. Royse argues that the positive should not be considered a second offense because Stall, at that point, had not received the results of a split sample on Sign.

Stall testified Sign was not administered methocarbamol. He said Upon Reflection did receive an injection but it was more than 48 hours out, as required by Kentucky rules. The HFL tests and split samples found overages in both cases.

The stewards fined Stall $250 for the Sign positive. As a second offense for Upon Reflection, Stall received a $500 fine and 10-day suspension.

Sign has not raced since the Pocahontas Oct. 28, which would have been her first stakes win. A homebred for Claiborne and Dilschneider, Sign won her two juvenile starts in spectacular fashion, taking her maiden special weight debut by 11 3/4 lengths at Saratoga Race Course before rolling to a four-length score in the one-mile Pocahontas. After the Pocahontas, she had surgery for a condylar fracture in her right hind leg.