Calif. Owner to Sue Trainer Over Drug Positive

In a lawsuit that is believed to be unprecedented, the owner of a horse disqualified for a drug positive is suing his trainer for the redistributed purse money.

Los Angeles-based attorney Alan Klein, whose Ellenay Racing owned Dyna Da Wyna when she won a maiden race at Santa Anita Park January 26, 2003, was ordered by the California Horse Racing Board to return the purse money earned, $26,400, after the horse tested positive in a post-race urine sample for Hydroxyzine/Cetirizine, a class-three substance.

The CHRB's complaint against trainer Mike Machowsky was sustained by an administrative law judge, and Machowsky was subsequently suspended for seven days and fined $2,500 for the drug positive. Klein originally filed a lawsuit against Machowsky in Los Angeles Superior Court last January, but has since recused himself from the case because, Klein said, he has in the past "represented Mike as his attorney on some personal matters.

"If I'm stuck to return the purse money, it was because of his (Machowsky's) acts," said Klein. "We will assert negligence claims against him. As an owner I've been with Mike 12 or 13 years, and I have no gripes personally against Mike. But as an owner I paid every one of the bills Mike sent me; I don't tell him how to train my horses or what drugs to give my horses.

"I've never seen a case like this reported in California. I assume most disputes between owners and trainer get settled between them."

Said attorney Steve Schwartz, who is representing Machowsky in this action, "The lawsuit filed by Mr. Machowsky's former attorney and personal advisor is devoid of factual basis for legal merit. We don't believe this negligence per se cause of action is applicable to the facts of this case."

The case will be tried in the first half of 2007.