Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will serve three concurrent 30-day suspensions handed down by the Kentucky Racing Commission for three individual medication violations, the New York-based horseman confirmed Dec. 1.
The suspensions, which run from Dec. 1-30, are for positives of ipratropium bromide, a bronchodilator the Association of Racing Commissioners International has classified as a Class B drug—one that has the potential to impact performance. Traces of the drug were found in three of McLaughlin’s runners at Keeneland during the 2009 fall meet.
The levels were “sub-nanogram”--.16 nanograms, .26, and .39. McLaughlin reported the test results in a Dec. 1 statement and said he was assured such levels wouldn’t impact a horse’s performance.
The positives include one in Bluegrass Princess, Dell Ridge Farm’s 3-year-old winner of the Oct. 23 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (gr. III) division one. The other positives were found in Darley Stables’ 2-year-old Liston, winner of an Oct. 9 allowance race, and in a third-place finisher Oct. 15.
According to Kentucky state steward John Veitch, the horses were disqualified and placed last, and purse redistribution was ordered as part of the ruling.
Joe Mahoney, spokesperson for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said New York would uphold the suspension and that McLaughlin had already arranged to have his horses run in the name of his assistant, Art Magnuson.
According to the statement issued by McLaughlin, the traces of ipratropium bromide detected through urine samples came from a therapeutic medication called Atrovent, “recommended and prescribed by my veterinarian for horses in my stable that have developed a cough from recurrent airway obstruction–a bronchial reaction to hay dust.”
Atrovent, McLaughlin said, is a bronchodilator administered to the horse through the use of a facemask.
“It was recommended because it is short-acting and does not have the steroidal or corticosteroidal properties associated with other medications used for this condition,” the trainer said. “I was advised to withdraw use of the medication for any horse entered to race at least 48 hours prior to such race. I have followed these guidelines in each instance since I began using this medication.
“I have been informed that this drug is very short-acting and that its pharmacologic effect on the horse does not last beyond six hours, although the drug remains detectable at subnanogram levels beyond 24 hours.”
“The trainer freely admitted to us that he had given the medication used in conjunction with his training and treatment program in the past,” Veitch said. “He had been using a recommended period of withdrawal time that had been effective in the past and was understandably concerned that the withdrawal time was no longer effective.
“Through a number of unofficial telephone conversations with him, we were able to get his side of the story and explain to him the kind of penalty he was looking at, at which time he decided to waive his right to a formal hearing.”
“I do not believe that a protracted legal proceeding is in my best interest or the best interests of the racing industry at this time,” McLaughlin said. “Rather, I ask that the industry organizations and experts presently re-examining racing’s medication and testing policies look at this situation as it relates to zero-tolerance and, once again, the lack of uniformity.”
The first sub-nanogram levels of ipratropium bromide from McLaughlin’s Oct. 9 runner were detected by the University of Florida’s veterinary testing laboratory, which notified the Kentucky Racing Commission Oct. 28.
McLaughlin said: “I wouldn’t compromise my own integrity or the integrity of the business that I love.”