Trainer Allegedly Has 1,700 Drug Violations

Harness trainer Lou Pena's New York suspension is tied to veterinary records.

A Standardbred trainer was suspended in New York May 24 for an alleged 1,700 equine medication violations after a joint investigation by New York and New Jersey regulators.

Lou Pena, one of harness racing’s most successful trainers by wins for the past several years, faces a hearing on the charges. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board said Pena “amassed a total of 1,719 equine drug violations in 675 races between January 2010 and April 2012.”

Pena raced primarily at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway in New York and Meadowlands in New Jersey. He also races in Pennsylvania.

The drugs Pena is alleged to have used in his horses are adrenocorticotropic acid, levothyroxine, and gonadorelin, which are hormones; betamethasone and flumethasone, which are steroids; clenbuterol, which aids breathing; cromolyn sodium and fircoxib, both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; glycopyrrolate, known as Robinul; methocarbamol, known as Robaxin; and magnesium sulfate.

The May 24 ruling and accompanying press release make no mention of the substances being found in regulatory drug tests. The NYSRWB did, however, say New York and New Jersey formed a partnership that “allowed for a joint review of veterinary records.” There was no further explanation as to how the vet records were obtained.

“This collaboration between the two state racing agencies led the (NYSRWB) to take this unprecedented action,” the release said.

NYSRWB chairman John Sabini said the investigation is ongoing and there could be further action, including recovery of more than $2.5 million in purses won by the allegedly drugged horses, and possible regulatory changes regarding access and disclosure of veterinary records in New York.

“We look forward to continuing the collaboration to bring increased integrity and accountability to horse racing,” Sabini said.

The ruling, under the header “fraud and misrepresentation,” states Pena’s license should be suspended or revoked and he should be fined no more than $25,000 for each violation. But it also cites three statutes Pena allegedly violated—drug rules, tampering with pari-mutuel races, and conduct detrimental to racing—that apparently would triple the amount.

The NYSRWB scheduled a hearing on the matter for May 30 in Schenectady, N.Y.