10/09/2012 6:10PM

American Quarter Horse Association imposes sanctions on trainers for dermorphin use


The American Quarter Horse Association on Tuesday announced sanctions against 11 trainers who received suspensions for positives for the Class 1 drug dermorphin in Louisiana and New Mexico. The horsemen listed in a press release issued by the AQHA are Alvin Smith Jr., John D. Soileau, Lamont Charles, Alonzo Loya, Kyi Lormand, Heath Taylor, Anthony Agilar, Gonzalo Gonzales, John Henry Bassett, Jeffery Heath Reed, and Carlos Sedillo.

Horses the men own or train as of Oct. 19 will be ineligible to compete in the 2012 program of Racing Challenge Championships at Prairie Meadows in Iowa on Oct. 27.  In addition, any AQHA memberships they hold will be suspended pending the outcome of their cases. The AQHA also announced that any horses the trainers own or have in their care as of Oct. 19 will no longer be eligible for racing points or year-end championship awards.

"The vast majority of our members love and enjoy spending time with their horses," said Don Treadway, executive vice president of the AQHA. "They want the drug issue cleaned up, and AQHA is dedicated to using the resources we have available to make sure this happens. The statements made over the last several months by tracks such as Los Alamitos, Ruidoso Downs, Remington Park, and actions taken by racing jurisdictions such as California, New Mexico, and Louisiana, show that progress is being made."

Dermorphin is an illegal painkiller, an opioid derived from a substance secreted by some species of South American tree frogs, according to reports in Daily Racing Form. It began being detected in drug tests this summer. The trainers named Tuesday have in the past few weeks had their cases come before either the stewards at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., or the state racing commission in Louisiana.

The minimum suspension handed down in each case was three years. The minimum fine was $2,500.

The release issued Tuesday noted the trainers have appeal rights and that the AQHA would continue to monitor the cases. The organization said over the next several weeks there will be "racing industry meetings that will bring together the national associations to discuss ways to further strengthen rules, policies and plans to move forward with reformed racing rules."