John Servis, trainer of recent Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Cathryn Sophia, is questioning three clenbuterol positives in his horses in April and May at Parx Racing—including one for a 3-year-old filly he said had never been administered the medication.
It's the latest in what has been a tumultuous period for racing regulation in Pennsylvania, where there hasn't been a racing commission meeting in almost six months, in part because of statutory changes.
Servis told the Philadelphia Inquirer, which first reported the situation June 7, that he had been notified of the positives shortly after test results came back. He told the newspaper when he heard a sample from Main Line Racing Stable and Joshtylane Farm's Miss Inclusive was positive for clenbuterol after her win in the $100,000 Parx Oaks May 7, he "got scared" because she never had been treated with the bronchodilator.
The cut-off time for administration of clenbuterol in Pennsylvania is 14 days, as it is in many other racing jurisdictions in the United States. Servis told the Inquirer the other two horses that tested positive—Hearty Jones, who won April 4, and Someday Jones, who finished second April 16—had been treated with the medication but under the standard regimen.
The Inquirer reported that Servis has requested increased security at his barn at Parx; a track official told the newspaper he understands the trainer's concerns and is waiting for the racing commission to act. Servis spent part of April and May in Kentucky preparing Cathryn Sophia for the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland and the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
Servis couldn't be immediately reached for comment the morning of June 8. He was scheduled to race Miss Inclusive in the Our Mims Stakes at Delaware Park, where he also has stalls, later in the day.
In response to questions from Blood-Horse, Brandi Hunter-Davenport, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, under which the racing commission falls, said June 8: "The matters in question have not yet been adjudicated. I am unable to provide any further information at this time."
It's unclear whether there are rulings in the matter; whether a hearing for Servis has been scheduled; what the levels are for the three horses that tested positive; whether the commission is actively investigating the matter in light of Servis' concerns; and the status of purse money for the three races. Sources said the connections of Eighth Wonder, who finished second in the Parx Oaks, already had been told the purse would be redistributed—but a hearing hasn't been held.
Pennsylvania for many years has had two racing commissions, one for Thoroughbred racing and one for Standardbred racing. Legislation passed earlier this year combined them into one nine-member commission to oversee both breeds.
The Thoroughbred racing commission hasn't met since Jan. 13 of this year.
According to a memo from the state Department of Agriculture, the reconstituted PHRC will meet June 17 in Harrisburg for orientation for the nine members. In addition, the group will hold an executive session to consider employment of two individuals who will head the Thoroughbred and Standardbred bureaus in executive director capacities.
On June 29 the PHRC will meet again for orientation and then hold its first regular meeting.
Trainer Ramon Preciado in March and April had six clenbuterol positives. He obtained a temporary restraining order after Parx ejected him for three years; a hearing is scheduled for July.