03/10/2015 3:06PM

Amoss suspended for 60 days by Indiana commission

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The Indiana Horse Racing Commission voted on Tuesday to accept a decision by an administrative law judge to uphold the commission’s suspension of trainer Tom Amoss for 60 days based on a 2011 drug positive, according to commission officials.

Amoss, who has earned more than $4 million in purse earnings in each of the last four years, has been contesting the suspension since it was announced in 2012, and his attorneys filed a brief with the commission raising issues with the administrative law judge’s decision last year. The administrative law judge’s decision stated that the commission was not required to hold a full evidentiary hearing into the Oct. 21, 2011, positive, which was for the regulated muscle relaxant methocarbamol.

While a methocarbamol positive generally results in a much lighter suspension than 60 days, the Indiana racing commission approved a 60-day suspension because horses trained by Amoss had tested positive on three earlier occasions in the previous 12 months for the same drug, in Louisiana and in Kentucky.

Joe Gorajec, the executive director of the IHRC, said the suspension is scheduled to start April 1. The first day of live racing this year at Indiana Grand, the state’s only Thoroughbred track, is April 21.

“It has been our preference to require horsemen to serve their time for medication violations while we are racing live in the state,” Gorajec said.

David Pippen, an attorney representing Amoss, said on Tuesday after the meeting that Amoss has not yet decided whether he will appeal the ruling. An appeal would have to be made in a civil court.

“We don’t have a response right now,” Pippen said. “It’s being discussed.”

Also at the meeting on Tuesday, the racing commission voted to accept an agreement between commission staff and the trainer Ron Raper that will require Raper to serve at least a one-year suspension. The suspension is based on Raper’s testimony last year to commission staff investigating the veterinarian Ross Russell. During the investigation, Raper acknowledged administering illegal substances to horses on race day.

The agreement stipulates that Raper will serve a four-year suspension and pay a $20,000 fine unless he continues to cooperate in the investigation and truthfully testifies against Russell in a pending hearing. In a report issued last year, the IHRC recommended that Russell be suspended for 20 years for providing trainers with medications that were to be administered on race day, among other violations.

“If we find that Mr. Raper is not truthful during his testimony, then all bets are off,” said Gorajec.

Also under the agreement, five horses trained by Raper – four Quarter Horses and one Thoroughbred – were disqualified from a total of six races at Indiana Grand last year.

Raper told IHRC investigators during the probe that Russell provided him with at least 30 doses of adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH, a naturally occurring substance that would likely have little effect on a horse but is nonetheless illegal for a trainer to possess or to administer on race day. Russell’s veterinary records showed that he billed Raper for 23 bottles of ACTH during the scope of the investigation, according to the racing commission.

Russell has been suspended since Sept. 20, when an Indiana Grand security employee reported that she had seen him treating a horse on race day a day earlier.