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Anne M. Eberhardt

Eight Belles Tests Negative for Steroids

Eight Belles has tested negative for banned substances and steroids.

Eight Belles, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), tested negative for banned substances and steroids, according to test results from the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority's official laboratory at Iowa State University.

KHRA executive director Lisa Underwood said the test results were returned to her office late in the day May 16.

Eight Belles was the only Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) participant to undergo testing for steroids, which aren't currently regulated in Kentucky. Underwood said the KHRA suggested to Eight Belles' trainer, Larry Jones, that a steroids test be performed on the daughter of Unbridled's Songafter speculation that the large filly had been administrated the substance, and that they might have played a role in her breakdown during the gallop out after the Derby.

In addition to the steroids test, Eight Belles, who was owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, underwent the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association "super test" and was tested for a "milkshake," a mixture of bicarbonate and/or other alkaline substances that is fed to a horse before it competes. The mixture produces higher levels of carbon dioxide (TCO2), which delays the buildup of lactic acid in a horse's muscles and is believed to increase stamina.

Underwood said a toxicology report was not completed on the filly at the suggestion of Kentucky chief state veterinarian Dr. Lafe Nichols. She said the KHRA retained a frozen tissue sample from Eight Belles in case the need for further testing arises.

The KHRA reported May 15 that the necropsy on Eight Belles concluded that she suffered compound fractures of both front legs at the fetlock joints. The necropsy was performed at the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center at the University of Kentucky at the request of KHRA.

In addition to Eight Belles testing negative, all other horses in the Derby, including winner Big Brown, tested negative for banned substances. The first four finishers in the Derby and Oaks underwent the TOBA testing and all participants were tested for TCO2.