Stewards Disqualify Sign from Pocahontas Win

Stewards Disqualify Sign from Pocahontas Win
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography
Sign in the Pocahontas Stakes.

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards have disqualified Sign from her victory in last season's Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs following a positive test for methocarbamol (Robaxin).

Following the positive test reported by HFL Sport Science Laboratory and confirmed (second sample) by Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Kentucky stewards fined Sign's trainer Al Stall Jr. $250 and had owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider forfeit the $101,125 in purse money earned by the daughter of Pulpit.

Methocarbamol is a muscle relaxer commonly used in horses to treat sore backs, muscle strain, and spasms. Methocarbamol is listed in penalty class C, lowest of the three penalty classes under the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances.

Lexington attorney David Royse said Stall and the owners plan to seek review of the case from the full Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Stall maintains Sign was never administered methocarbamol.

"Mr. Stall and the owners of Sign respectfully but strongly disagree with the stewards' ruling," Royse said in an email sent to The Blood-Horse. "Sign tested positive for a trace amount of Methocarbamol, a Class C medication. The evidence before the stewards, in the form of sworn testimony by the trainer and the veterinarian, was that Sign had never been administered this medication in training or her pre-race regimen. This was likewise reflected in the veterinary records voluntarily produced to the stewards."

If the stewards' decision stands, runner-up Gal About Town would become the winner and purse money would be redistributed. Royse said there should be no forfeiture of purse money. He said that 43 previous first-offense Class C violations in the past three years in Kentucky did not carry a purse forfeiture.

A homebred for Claiborne and Dilschneider, Sign won her two juvenile starts in spectacular fashion, taking her maiden special weight debut by 11 3/4 lengths at Saratoga Race Course before rolling to a four-length score in the one-mile Pocahontas. After the Pocahontas, she had surgery for a condylar fracture in her rear hind leg.

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) leader board also would face changes if the stewards' decision holds up as Sign earned 10 points for the Pocahontas victory. The points are used to determine the Oaks field if the race receives more than 14 entries.

While Sign has been removed from Oaks consideration because of her injury, Gal About Town would move from 4 points for finishing second to 10 points for the win. Cloudy Vow would be the runner-up (4 points), Cloudy in Sandiego would be third (2 points) and Seasoned Warrior fourth (1 point). A Churchill spokesperson said points would be redistributed at a time when the result is updated on official race charts.

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