Updated on 04/04/2013 4:37PM

Aqueduct: Rodriguez's attorney criticizes NYRA's slow response to security request


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The attorney representing embattled trainer Rudy Rodriguez claims inaction by the New York Racing Association led to the possible tampering with a filly who ran on March 10 at Aqueduct and was subsequently found to have an excess level of the drug Flunixin in her post-race sample.

Attorney Karen Murphy claims NYRA failed to respond in a timely fashion to requests from Rodriguez in February to install the necessary wiring in barn 10 at Aqueduct that would have allowed Rodriguez to install cameras in that barn, which he shares with trainer David Jacobson. Rodriguez has cameras installed throughout barn  6 at Aqueduct, where the majority of his horses are stabled. Rodriguez also employs a night watchman in barn  6, according to Murphy.

The filly Majestic Marquet was stabled in barn 10 and tested positive for an unusually high level of Flunixin – or banamine, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory – after winning a starter/optional claiming race on March 10.

Murphy said that state officials confirmed to her the level of Flunixin detected in the filly’s system was 405 nanograms per milliliter. Most jurisdictions, including New York, allow 20 to 50 nanograms per milliliter to be in a horse’s system.

“It’s an enormous dose given within 24 hours of a race – somebody got to the horse,” Murphy said. “This is a tampering case; I’m 100 percent certain of this.”

Rodriguez is the trainer of the undefeated 3-year-old Vyjack, who is the second choice on the morning-line for Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial. On Friday, Rodriguez was scheduled to return from a 20-day suspension for two Flunixin positives dating back to 2012.

NYRA attorney Ken Handal, in an April 1 e-mail to Murphy, wrote that NYRA had not received a “detailed layout for the installation of the cameras” and that NYRA would “undertake an inquiry” into the matter.

Murphy countered by saying that NYRA “has all the necessary physical layout information as this is a NYRA barn” and simply failed to do the necessary wiring work.

Further, Murphy wrote, “the failure by NYRA to commence and complete this work in a timely manner resulted in a serious security breach for which there are significant consequences not only for NYRA, but for the betting public, the filly’s owners and my client. We look forward to the results of the ‘inquiry’ that you will be conducting.”

Late Thursday, NYRA acknowledged that someone from Rodriguez’s barn made two requests to have cameras installed, but that Rodriguez did not provide a detailed layout plan that he had provided when he had cameras installed in barn 6.

“We didn’t have enough information to complete the work order,” the NYRA spokesperson said.

Owners Michael Imperio and David Wilkenfeld – the latter owns Vyjack – have put up a combined $40,000 in reward money for information that can prove tampering was involved.