05/21/2006 11:00PM

Albertrani starts 15-day ban


Tom Albertrani, the trainer of Preakness winner Bernardini, began serving a 15-day suspension on Monday after one of his horses tested positive for the banned tranquilizer acepromazine. The suspension was reduced from 30 days because Albertrani waived his right of appeal.

Albertrani, who was also fined $1,000 by the stewards, is banned from the grounds of any New York Racing Association track until June 6, four days before the Belmont Stakes. Albertrani is expected to run Deputy Glitters and possibly Bernardini in the Belmont.

The presence of acepromazine was found in the urine but not the blood of Fire Hero after he won the ninth race at Aqueduct on April 1. The horse was disqualified and ruled unplaced in the order of finish.

Albertrani said Fire Hero is not treated with acepromazine and believes the incident may have been a result of contamination. Albertrani said another horse in the barn was on that medication.

"We didn't bother doing a split sample," Albertrani said Monday. "I didn't know if it was worth pursuing. Sometimes these things happen through contamination. . . . It had to be such a minute amount for it to be in the urine and not the blood."