Biancone Veterinarian Appeals Kentucky Suspension

Dr. Rod Stewart has appealed a suspension order issued by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority in connection with the ongoing investigation of trainer Patrick Biancone.

Lisa Underwood, executive director of the KHRA, said following an Aug. 27 authority meeting that Stewart had appealed the suspension order, and the case will now go to a hearing officer. Underwood said she couldn’t comment on the case pending further investigation.

According to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune, Stewart was called before the board of stewards at Del Mar Aug. 23 to address allegations that included being in the stable area without a license and the improper labeling of medications. Just before the hearing, Del Mar stewards became aware of Stewart’s suspension in Kentucky and opted not to hold the hearing. The stewards then suspended his license and privileges, according to the newspaper report.

Stewards in Kentucky requested Stewart’s computer and records in connection with the investigation relating to the alleged finding of cobra venom, a substance used to kill pain, during a July search of Biancone’s barn at Keeneland. Stewart’s vehicle was searched at the same time.

In an Aug. 3 written order, chief state steward John Veitch requested that Stewart provide all written documentation since Jan. 1 concerning the purchase, possession, or use of any medications or drugs. In a July 25 written order, Veitch requested that Stewart provide any computers used to store or record information, as well as computer components.

Stewart was ordered to comply with both orders by Aug. 9. A suspension order was signed and issued by Veitch Aug. 16.

Under the Association of Racing Commissioners International drug classifications, snake venom is listed as a Class II substance--one with the ability to impact performance and affect the outcome of a race. Snake venom is a nerve-blocking agent.

Snake venom falls under RCI guidelines that state “possession and/or use of a drug, substance, or medication on the premises of a facility under the jurisdiction of the regulatory body that has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States” is considered a prohibited practice, as is blood-doping. Snake venom is not FDA-approved.

Also during the Aug. 27 meeting, the KHRA accepted the recommendation of a hearing officer to uphold a stewards’ decision to fine jockey Elvis Trujillo $2,500 for misjudging the finish line in an April 26 race at Keeneland.

The authority also took action against trainer Michael Lauer for a late scratch in the ninth race at Ellis Park Sept. 1, 2005. The stewards fined Lauer $250. Underwood said after the stewards’ ruling, a tornado hit the western Kentucky track and all records of the fine were lost. The hearing officer overturned the stewards’ ruling based on extenuating circumstances related to the lost records.