The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Sept. 12 filed a notice of appeal in the Kentucky Court of Appeals of a Franklin (Ky.) Circuit Court's decision that overturned a methocarbamol positive against trainer Graham Motion.
The circuit court decision by Judge Thomas Wingate called into question two important regulatory issues. It questioned Kentucky's adoption of threshold guidelines crafted by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and also found the state's "absolute insurer rule," which places ultimate responsibility for what's in a horse's system on race day on the trainer, to be unconstitutional.
The Circuit Court opinion, entered Aug. 18, determined that factors besides science were used in shaping the thresholds. The court decision noted that, "evidence petitioners supplied to the record suggests that the RMTC board members who made the advised drug schedule considered additional, unscientific factors outside of scientific suitability of the regulation."
Judge Wingate determined that the state's absolute insurer rule impermissibly deprives trainers of due process.
"Trainers must be able to present evidence to rebut their liability in an instance of violation," read Judge Wingate's decision. "To disallow a trainer to safeguard his license, a trainer must receive due process to be heard on the propriety of his actions to challenge liability for a dosing violation."
The court's opinion overturned a 2015 methocarbamol positive against Kitten's Point, following her victory in the Bewitch Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland. The decision will see the $500 fine against Motion lifted and the $90,000 winner's purse awarded to owner George Strawbridge Jr.
Motion's attorney, W. Craig Robertson III, said the trainer easily could have accepted the relatively light penalty, which also initially saw the stewards impose a five-day suspension; but Motion opted to fight the ruling on principle.
That legal battle will continue.