Trainer Patrick Biancone, suspended for one year for possessing on the grounds of Keeneland three sealed vials of alpha-cobratoxin (cobra venom), a Class A substance under the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority Uniform Drug and Medication Classification Schedule, was granted a stay Oct. 10.
Biancone appealed the suspension Oct. 9. One of his attorneys, Alan Foreman, confirmed his client had been granted a stay.
The KHRA also announced the decision by hearing officer James Robke, a former member of the defunct Kentucky Racing Commission.
Foreman earlier said an appeal by Biancone would trigger a hearing before the KHRA or one of its hearing officers; the hearing on the appeal hasn’t been scheduled. If the KHRA had denied a stay, Biancone would have had to seek a temporary restraining order, Foreman said.
The alpha-cobratoxin was found in a bag in a tack room refrigerator labeled with the name of Dr. Rodney Stewart, Biancone’s veterinarian, who was suspended for five years in the case. Biancone was also suspended for a variety of violations relating to possession of medications without proper labeling and possession of injectables.
Biancone was also found to have violated a Kentucky regulation that requires him to report violations of the medication rules by Stewart. The stewards decided after their hearing that Biancone had reason to believe Stewart was in possession of alpha-cobratoxin on Keeneland property June 22 when a barn search took place.
“I am profoundly disappointed, but not surprised, by the stewards ruling,” Biancone said in a statement released Oct. 5, the day his suspension was announced. “Since the search of my barns at Keeneland and the Keeneland Training Center on June 22, 2007, when certain information was leaked to the media, I have been tried and convicted in the press and am well aware of pressures from certain elements of the industry to make an example out of me before all the facts were known and I had an opportunity to defend myself. I have remained silent rather than attempt to argue my case and defend myself in the media pending a hearing.”
Biancone said none of the substances were his. He said “uncontroverted evidence” from the probe was that a cooler containing vaccines was placed in a refrigerator the morning of the search by Stewart, who also arranged to have other “injectables and medications” for another client delivered to Biancone’s barn.
Foreman said Oct. 8 his client passed a polygraph test in connection with the investigation. He said if not for the substances brought into the barn by Stewart, there would no violations of medication regulations.
“It’s obvious this case is being handled in a way designed to deliver a message,” Foreman alleged. “One year is beyond any penalty I’ve seen for an offense of this nature with this set of facts. This took on a life of its own almost immediately.”
Foreman said Biancone was being used as a “poster boy” for the industry’s attempts to crack down on medication violations.
“The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority is committed to ensuring the highest level of integrity for Kentucky’s signature industry and sport,” KHRA executive director Lisa Underwood said in a statement. “The stewards’ ruling sends a clear message to all industry stakeholders and participants that violations of this nature will not be tolerated.”