03/14/2013 5:00PM

Aqueduct: Rodriguez resigned to serving suspension

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Michael Amoruso
Vyjack became a top-10 contender for the Kentucky Derby with his victory in the Grade 3 Gotham.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – There is never a good time for a trainer to serve a suspension, but with a Kentucky Derby contender in his barn, the timing couldn’t be worse for Rudy Rodriguez.

Beginning Saturday, Rodriguez will be gone for 20 days after reaching an agreement with the New York Gaming Commission on a suspension for two positives accrued last year for flunixin, an anti-inflammatory sold under the name Banamine.

For dropping an appeal of a flunixin positive on the horse Heiden from April 2012, and for a pending positive on the horse Alston Gunter from last November, Rodriguez was suspended 40 days and fined $7,500 by the New York Gaming Commission. Half of the days were stayed provided Rodriguez has no equine medication positives in New York through April 4, 2014.

Rodriguez, the leading trainer at Aqueduct this winter, admitted to using the medication, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that is used therapeutically by trainers and is legal to be given until 24 hours of a race. Rodriguez said, however, that he believes these horses were given the medication 30 hours out from their races.

“They say you’re allowed to give this, and a lot of times some horses carry it in their system longer than other ones,” said Rodriguez, who won his meet-leading 40th race in Thursday’s sixth with Belief System. “We’ve been very careful. I don’t say we don’t use it, but they said we can give it 24 hours and we give it 30 hours.

“With the new rules, I try to stay away from all medications and try to avoid everything, because you don’t want them to think you’re cheating,” he added. “You’re trying to do the right thing.”

Rodriguez, a former jockey and exercise rider for now-suspended trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. has been a subject of suspicion since he had immediate success after going out on his own in 2010. That spring, he won 8 of 11 races during Aqueduct’s main track season and later that year he won the Belmont fall training title. He will win the Aqueduct inner track title as that meet ends on Sunday.

Since he started training, Rodriguez has won 356 races from 1,561 starters and his horses have earned $12.7 million.

“A lot of people just criticize you for the medication. They don’t get up in the morning and see all the hard work you put in,” Rodriguez said. “The people that criticize the people that work with the horses should get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and see everything that happens in the morning before they start pointing fingers.”

In addition to training horses, Rodriguez gets on six to eight horses each morning. That includes Vyjack, who became a top 10 contender for the Kentucky Derby with his victory in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 2 and who is pointing to the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 6.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Rodriguez was scheduled to be aboard Vyjack when that horse worked on Friday morning at Aqueduct, but it will be his brother Gustavo Rodriguez who will be in charge of Vyjack’s preparation thereafter.

Gustavo Rodriguez got on Vyjack several times before the gelding won the Grade 2 Jerome when Rudy was in Florida with his string at Gulfstream Park.

“He gets along very good with the horse,” Rudy Rodriguez said. “He knows how the horse is, he knows he has to just let the horse do what he wants to do and don’t fight him. He’s got very, very good hands so I don’t need to worry. The horse is in good hands.”

Rodriguez will be off suspension two days before the Wood and will be allowed to be the trainer of record for that race provided owner David Wilkenfeld officially makes the entry, according to the stewards.

John Bowers More than 1 year ago
Well it looks like Rodriguez learned a lot from his former boss and mentor Dickey Dutrow. When he came on this scene and rose to the top so quickly I knew he was using the same medication program as Dutrow. You can rest assured he is using more then just Banamine to get his horses in the winners circle.
Lucien More than 1 year ago
Let me set this straight for everyone. the banamine positive is a joke, and i'll get back to this later on as to why. that being said, its still an offence and the rules were not applied according to the rules of racing. when a trainer is doing time, the horses are supposed to leave the barn to go to an unrelated party (be it family or business); AND there is supposed to be no contact. So mr mallios, yes there is probably communications going on but like the banamine positive, its only illegal if they get caught. so guess what, if you are right then he's breaking the rules again! but lets forget all that and back to my earlier comment on the banamine. if anyone thinks for one second that the banamine is the secret to his success then let me tell you that you are the gullible person. the performance of his horses go beyond anything banamine can do. the nysrwb and nyra, and any other authority can chase banamine, clembuterol, milk shaking, and anything else they want....this is way beyond that. it is not about pain...its about the blood. these horses like those of his mentor don't stop in the stretch. any good trainer can get a horse sound....only god can get them to finish races like he does. Until they test for the stuff that is really the problem these so called positives are a joke. by the way, claim horses from him and run blood tests like we do....the blood counts are so consistently out of whack my vet cant believe it.
robert More than 1 year ago
great analysis Lucien, I guess that is why it seems like whether it is Rudy, Dutrow and Jacobsen their horses always seem to "rebreak at the top of the stretch" and have a second wind , pretty similar to Lance Armstrong, right?
John Bowers More than 1 year ago
I could not have said it better.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
I think you could be underestimating how many guys in this business that excell at stopping their horses in the lane.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
When you steal something and don"t get caught, you will do it again , and again . And then 1 day when you think that your pretty slick, you get caught. Now your labeled, plain and simple as that, a big red flag that see"s you coming from the 1/4 pole to home no matter what time of day it is....
fuggedabodit More than 1 year ago
Hey Rudy, first of all, you have to have some kind of license to be on track grounds, so us getting at 4 in the morning to come see what you do aint gonna happen. Why not not just tell us how you won 8 of 11 at Aqueduct, a training title at Belmont, and now another training title at Aqueduct. You just went out on your own in 2010! Please tell us what your magic formula is. Tell us what you do differently that other trainers dont do to get your horses to run for you!!! What is so special about your training methods? Please spare me the garbage about being a good horseman because most trainers are good horseman. Most know their horses, and treat their horses with TLC.....I may want to become a horse trainer someday, so Rudy, would be so kind as to give me a few pointers (sarcasm)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
You would of impressed me if you said a trainer that gets on their own horses have and edge on those who dont.
Senor Enrico More than 1 year ago
Rudy was chief exercise rider/ assistant trainer to Richard Dutrow before he went on his own as a trainer. I wonder where he learned the skill of doping?
Dennis Whalen More than 1 year ago
Pain killer , this is a pain killer how much banamine was found is the question. This is the same meds you give a horse when colic is present so it is strong and can mast strong pain. This is not like lasix.
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
The horse comes first. This 24 hour rule in NY is too vague. I bet the stewards don't go to work when they're sick or hurting without some meds. The horses deserve the same. This med was not a narcotic. So what is so bad about it? And the same goes for Lasix. It prevents bleeding. THE HORSE SHOULD ALWAYS COME FIRST !!!
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
It seems like humans go to extremes. First we give medicine after medicine to the horses then, we go the other way, no medicine for horses. When is someone in charge going to consider the horses? Not all medication is a terrible thing. The one in question here, as a poster below points out, is simply a type of equine aspirin. We are not talking steroids here.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Isn't it always amazing that the guys that find their way into suspensions were the "leaders" of the meet? Awesome. Good work.
jttf More than 1 year ago
suspensions are meaningless in horse racing. if you hit these guys with $40,000 fines. it might just get their attention.