Stewards at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races have suspended trainer Chris Grove for six months and fined him $5,000 for a major drug violation in a July race.
The stewards handed out the penalty after Bubba de France tested positive for nikethamide following a race he won July 28, 2012 at Charles Town. Nikethamide, trade name Coramine, is a stimulant listed as a Class I drug on the Association of Racing Commissioners International's "Uniform Classification of Guidelines for Foreign Substances."
Class I substances call for the most severe penalties as they are stimulants or depressants with the highest potential to affect racing performance and have no known generally accepted use in a race horse. Charles Town state steward Danny Wright said it is the first time he has seen a Class I violation in his 13 years.
E. Clinton Lowry's Bubba de France won the fifth race July 28 at Charles Town by a neck over runner-up Sir Fits too Much. Bubba de France will be disqualified and Lowry will forfeit the $6,600 in purse money.
An advisor to Grove said the Maryland-based trainer will appeal for a stay and appeal the stewards' decision through the West Virginia Racing Commission. The trainer also will consider court appeals if needed.
The stewards also suspended Grove's assistant Misael Ceciliano for six months and fined him $5,000. Ceciliano worked as Grove's assistant for the race in question.
Since January 2009, Grove has had three previous medication violations that carried fines or disqualifications, according to a database provided by The Jockey Club at ThoroughbredRulings.com. None of those three violations were of a Class I nature. His previous highest fine was $1,500.
Grove, who currently ranks eighth in the trainer standings at Laurel Park, has won 673 races through Feb. 27 in 16 years of training horses. Some of his top horses include grade II winners Sweet Goodbye and Greenspring.