New York Suspends Trainer Dowd, Fines Owner Perez

New York racing regulators on Monday slapped trainer John Dowd with a 120-day suspension after three Thoroughbreds he ran during races in 1999 and 2000 at Aqueduct tested positive for ergonovine.

Dowd, trainer of Songandaprayer in this weekend's Kentucky Derby, was also fined $2,500 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. Board chairman Michael Hoblock, who also conducted the hearing in Dowd's case, said there has been no evidence that the drug "has a demonstrated therapeutic use in race horses. As a matter of fact, it could be dangerous."

In another disciplinary matter, Thoroughbred owner Robert Perez was fined $3,000 following what officials described as a nasty confrontation with stewards last year at Saratoga in an incident the board said was "detrimental to the best interests of racing.''

The state began cracking down on the use of ergonovine several years ago after Cornell University developed a test for the drug. The drug is given to women who have caesarian births or abortions as a way to control bleeding. Hoblock said some trainers believe it stimulates horses, though he said one of its side effects can be convulsions.

Dowd had originally been hit with a 180 day suspension for the infractions. The positive tests for the drug were found involving Gestalt and Fire King in January 2000 and Critical Thinker the month before.

In the Perez case, board officials said his $3,000 fine could be reduced to $1,250 if in the next 30 days he apologizes to the stewards he confronted last year. Perez, according to Edward Martin, executive director of the state racing board, questioned the fairness of racing at New York Racing Association tracks.

At a meeting in August to look into the matter, though, Martin said the situation "got completely out of hand on Mr. Perez's part." He said Perez verbally abused stewards at the Saratoga meeting and threatened to choke one official. The meeting was then quickly scuttled after only 15 combative minutes. Martin said Perez's allegations, if true, could have an impact on racing and that the Thoroughbred owner should have let the meeting looking into his claims proceed. As a result of Perez's outbursts, Martin said his allegations were then never investigated.