Trainer Fined $1,000 for Kentucky 'Milkshake' Positive

In the first carbon dioxide overage announced since random tests were instituted in Kentucky in the spring of 2005, a horse trained by Reynaldo Abreu turned up positive in a pre-race blood sample taken April 18 at Keeneland. Subsequently, the trainer was fined $1,000.

Warrior Girl, the third-place finisher behind Asi Siempre in the Lexington racetrack's Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III), was disqualified and placed last, and all purse monies were redistributed after the tested sample produced a carbon dioxide level of 37.5 millimoles. A count of more than 37 millimoles per liter is prohibited by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

Carbon dioxide (TCO2) or “milkshake” tests began in Kentucky at in the spring of 2005. Milkshaking is an outlawed practice that involves treating a horse with a mixture of bicarbonate and/or other alkaline substances that is fed to a horse shortly before it competes. The mixture produces higher levels of carbon dioxide, which delays the buildup of lactic acid in a horse's muscles and is believed to increase stamina.

Abreu, who trained the filly for Marylou Whitney Stables but no longer has any of that owner’s horses under his care, was fined $1,000, though chief state steward John Veitch said June 7 nefarious circumstances weren't involved in the case. Veitch said the daughter of War Chant was regularly treated with an electrolyte supplement that could have raised the carbon dioxide count in her system.

“Through our investigation it was determined that Abreu was using an electrolyte supplement that had a high concentrate of dextrose and bicarbonate of soda,” Veitch said. “This filly had history of tying up (cramping) when she trained, and was on a regular diet that contained this electrolyte. On April 18, she was also diagnosed as having mucus in the trachea and was receiving antibiotics for that.”

The filly was quarantined for a 72-hour period requested and funded by the trainer. During that time, the KHRA ran a series of four tests and determined the filly’s carbon dioxide count ranged from 26 to 30.5 millimoles at different times of the day. 

“We determined that Abreu (did not) understand that the supplement coupled with any problem in the filly’s system might cause a higher carbon dioxide level,” Veitch said. “Although he was held responsible, we decided to fine him $1,000 rather than levy a suspension, which we could have done.”