California Trainers Fined for Herbal-Related Positives

by Jack Shinar

Five Southern California trainers have been fined $1,500 each by the California Horse Racing Board after an herbal product they used on horses under their care was found to contain two banned substances.

The fines for trainers Nick Canani, Scott Hansen, John Sadler, John Shirreffs, and Clifford Sise came in a stipulated agreement with the CHRB made Dec. 13. The CHRB has set a hearing in January for possible redistribution of purses from races involving the horses.

The positive tests were for the drugs phenylpropanolamine and norpseudoephedrinem -- amphetamines listed as Class 3 substances -- that were discovered following races that were run from June 13 to Aug. 3. An herbal product from a Rogersville, Mo., company named Herbal Advantage reportedly was given to each of the horses as a feed supplement.

According to its Web site, Herbal Advantage sells, Stevia, herbs, spices, mushrooms, and other "natural health conscious" products in various combinations designed to promote everything from better teeth to more red blood cells for a stronger immune system. Tests of the product used in the Southern California equine cases were conducted at University of California-Davis and revealed the presence of the same illegal substances found in each of the horses.

The drugs, however, were not listed among the product's contents, so the trainers were reportedly unaware of the presence of amphetamines. They were cited under a rule that states that trainers must ensure the condition of their starters.

A registered California horse owner, Gregory Allen Long, faces a hearing early in 2002 on a complaint in connection with the case alleging that he sold equine herbal products without a required vendor's license, CHRB spokesman Mike Marten said. Long could be suspended, fined, or face license revocation for allegedly using his access as an owner to sell the product.

The five trainers were among 15 warned to stop using the herbal supplement following the discovery of the positives in August. Several horses were scratched from races as a result, including the sprinter Lexicon, who was withdrawn from the $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar by his trainer, Richard Mandella.