Updated on 03/14/2013 5:20PM

Aqueduct: Rodriguez to serve 20-day suspension for 2012 medication violations

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Rudy Rodriguez, the leading trainer at Aqueduct and the conditioner of undefeated Kentucky Derby contender Vyjack, will begin serving a 20-day suspension Saturday for two medication positives. Rodriguez was also fined $7,500 by the New York State Gaming Commission.

Rodriguez was penalized for the finding of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Flunixin, also known as Banamine, in post race samples taken from Heiden, who won the last race at Aqueduct on April 7, 2012, and Alston Gunter, who finished third in the first race at Aqueduct on Nov. 21.

Rodriguez was suspended for 40 days, but half of those days were stayed by the Gaming Commission provided Rodriguez gets no further equine drug positives in New York for one year following the last day of the suspension.

Rodriguez’s suspension runs through April 4. Though entries for the April 6 Wood Memorial are taken on April 3, Vyjack will be allowed to enter under Rudy Rodriguez’s name for that race, according to New York Racing Association stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.

Rodriguez, a former jockey, has also been the regular exercise rider of Vyjack, winner of all four of his starts, including the Grade 3 Gotham on March 2.

Michael Dubb, the owner of both Heiden and Alston Gunter is a member of the New York Racing Association Reorganization Board. He wrote in an e-mail that the administration of banamine “was in no way given to obtain an edge, only to protect the physical well being of my horses. To ensure that this never happens again we have remediated and removed this medication from being administered to my horses all the while hoping that this will not be physically detrimental to them.”

Dubb went on to write that the penalties handed Rodriguez were too harsh when compared to what is recommended by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which, on its web site, suggests a fine of $750 and no suspension for this classification of drug.

“We talk about the need for uniformity and consistency as it relates to medications across the country,” Dubb wrote. “We should also strive to impose equal and consistent penalties based on the science that has been developed to date. Why? Because we need to be fair and treat all trainers equally unless there are facts that call for mitigation or aggravation of a given penalty.

“Here, at most a $750 fine is what was called for, but instead Rudy is set down for 20 days and levied a fine 10 times greater than what was recommended. Something is very wrong and the sport suffers another unnecessary blow – a blow that is also completely unwarranted.”

During the suspension, horses from the Rodriguez barn will race under the name of Gustavo Rodriguez, who is Rudy’s brother and assistant. That includes Kiss the Lady, who runs in Saturday’s $100,000 Cicada Stakes.

Rudy Rodriguez, a former long-time employee of Richard Dutrow Jr., went out on his own in February 2010. He was the leading trainer at Belmont Park’s fall meet that year.

Rodriguez’s 39 victories have him atop the standings at Aqueduct’s inner-track meet, which began last Dec. 12 and runs through Sunday.

Nationally, Rodriguez ranks fourth in purse money earned ($1,965,038) and fifth in wins (39) in 2013.