Trainer Cole Norman was suspended for six months and fined $1,000 by the Delta Downs stewards after two horses he saddled in the Jean Lafitte Stakes Nov. 3 at Delta Downs tested in excess of the permitted levels of total carbon dioxide (TCO2). He has appealed the ruling to the Louisiana Racing Commission; the case is scheduled to come before the commission Jan. 26. Norman can continue to train horses while the appeal process is ongoing.
The first positive was called on the Norman-trained Go Poppa Fooze, who won the race by nine lengths. The second positive was called on stablemate Bayou de Storm, who finished fourth.
Both horses were disqualified. The purse has been ordered to be redistributed, but no action can occur while the case is under appeal.
"On the first violation, because it did not call for a referral to the commission, the commission can either uphold or overturn the stewards' ruling. If they uphold the decision, the purse gets redistributed and the fine is due," said Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission. "On the second report, that is a referral to the commission, which usually means the commission can increase or decrease the penalty if they so desire. It also calls for a redistribution of the purse and a six-month suspension."
Gardiner said pre-race testing of Go Poppa Fooze showed 40.1 millimoles/Liter of TCO2 while Bayou de Storm had 38.5 millimoles/Liter of TCO2 in his system. Louisiana has a maximum threshold level of 36 millimoles/Liter of TCO2.
Gardiner said Norman's two positives are the first since Louisiana began pre-race TCO2 testing in August. "At least one complete field per raceday at each track is tested," he said. "In addition, stewards can choose other races or individual horses (for testing) should they deem it appropriate."
An excess of bicarbonates in a horse's system is believed to aide muscle fatigue.