But then Ulman said the trainers could serve the suspensions concurrently, which means they would be suspended for only 15 days, during which time they would be barred from the backstretch. That was because of a delay in notifying the trainers of their initial positives, Ulman said.
The trainers weren't notified of the April 13 infractions until April 20. If they had been notified promptly, Ulman said, they would have had the opportunity to scratch the other horses. "Justice," said Robb, a veteran trainer of more than 30 years, of the decision. "I think it's been a witch hunt for Michael Gill from the beginning." Gill, a New Hampshire horse owner, owned four of the five horses that raced on Guanabenz. Gill, a former trainer, was suspended in 1995 in New Hampshire for a drug violation.Subsequent trainers of his horses have been suspended for drug infractions. Through Sept. 22, Gill was the second-winningest owner in the country with 1,020 victories for earnings of more than $4 million.
Robb and Shuman said they had routinely administered Guanabenz to their horses as a way of reducing tension and the cramping of muscles during training. They said they had always ended the treatments 48 hours before a race. They no longer use the drug, they said. John Krasnoff, the assistant attorney general who argued the case against the trainers, said that the three stewards, the ruling authorities at the track, considered the positives "very serious infractions" that affected the outcome of five races. Racing authorities in other states had handed down suspensions for Guanabenz positives ranging from 30 days in New York to 120 days in Iowa.