At the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority meeting Feb. 25, John Vietch, the organization's chief state steward, reported on two major rulings that have taken place since the New Year.
In the first ruling, trainer Wayne Martin was fined and suspended for moving his horses across state lines in the midst of a recent Equine Herpes Virus investigation at the Riverside Training Center near Henderson, Ky.
When a horse stabled at Riverside had displayed symptoms of EHV, the Department of Agriculture came to investigate and warned trainers not to move any of their livestock before all five facilities on the grounds had been officially quarantined.
An order was also given to Riverside veterinarians not to issue any health certificates until the situation had been resolved. In spite of the warnings, Martin vanned his horses to Indiana, where he asked a local veterinarian who was not aware of the situation at Riverside to issue him a health certificate. The horses were then transported to Tennessee.
"Fortunately, the Kentucky case of EHV did not occur, but the symptoms were there," said Veitch. "Taking a horse across state lines without a valid health certificate violates not only state law, but also federal law. Although no damage was done, Martin was suspended for 60 days and was fined $2,500."
In the second ruling, trainer Bobby Barnett's 3-year-old gelding Cactus Tom tested positive for atenolol, a drug that is used as a high blood pressure treatment for humans, but has no known tactical use for equine.
After Cactus Tom finished second in the third race at Keeneland Oct. 24, 2007, he was disqualified after a preliminary test revealed a positive result for atenolol, a class B drug.
"However, the stewards took no action against him due to the fact he was not notified (of the final report) in a timely manner, which hindered his ability to fully investigate the source of the before mentioned drug," said Veitch.
The delay in notification was caused by a filing mistake at the Iowa State University diagnostic laboratory, which confirms the existence of a forbidden substance in a horse's system. By the time the mistake had been corrected and the results were sent to the KHRA, 44 days had elapsed since the test was initially declared positive.
"Since (Barnett) took the horse from Keeneland to Churchill Downs, to Louisiana, and had a tremendous changeover in personnel, it afforded the possibility the horse could have had an accidental contamination," said Veitch.
In the future, Veitch said test results would be sent to the state veterinarian, as well as the KHRA office. A suggestion was also made by other KHRA members to inquire whether more staff could be hired at the laboratory to work weekends and cut down the amount of time it takes to receive test results.
Veitch said Barnett has appealed the ruling.
"He cannot appeal the part where the horse tested positive, but he's appealing (returning the purse money) because there's no know reason for why the horse could have been treated with atenolol."