07/08/2009 12:00AM

Asmussen lidocaine hearing finally held


It took 14 months, but on Tuesday a stewards hearing into Steve Asmussen's lidocaine positive from May 10, 2008, was held at Lone Star Park. A ruling in the matter could be issued by the end of the week.

Texas has a zero-tolerance policy on lidocaine, a local anesthetic. As a Class 2 medication violation a lidocaine positive can, among other penalties, carry up to a six-month suspension.

Asmussen's case has been delayed numerous times during the past year. Most notably, it stalled last fall when Asmussen's attorneys attempted to obtain a blood sample through a lawsuit filed in district court. The court ruled it had no jurisdiction in the case because it was still pending with the commission.

On Tuesday, the stewards heard arguments from both Asmussen's legal team and Mark Fenner, who represented the Texas Racing Commission. The proceedings, which also included testimony from Asmussen and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, opened at 10:18 a.m. Central. It began with Asmussen's legal team of Maggi Moss and Karen Murphy requesting quantitative data on both the original and split test sample, additional split sample test data, and testing of the blood sample from the horse in question, Timber Trick, winner of a May 10 maiden race. The attorneys said they have sought such information for more than a year, but have been denied by the Texas Racing Commission.

After breaking to deliberate on the request from Asmussen's attorneys, the stewards denied it at about 1:30 p.m.

The commission on Wednesday said in a statement that there is no quantitative data on the samples in the case because there are no acceptable levels of lidocaine in Texas. In addition, urine testing is the only testing the commission requires for the presence of lidocaine and its metabolites.

Moss, on Wednesday, said she was frustrated that the science requests were not granted.

After the requests were turned down, the actual hearing began with Mott taking the stand as a character witness for Asmussen. Mott also discussed a past lidocaine positive he had for which he received a seven-day suspension and a $1,000 fine. He said he never determined the source of the positive.

Asmussen testified that he did not administer lidocaine to Timber Trick. He also answered questions about race-day protocol in his stable.

"I know that I didn't do this," he said.

Fenner cited the absolute insurer rule in his closing arguments and asked the stewards to follow the guidelines set forth in Class 2 cases.

Asmussen, 43, was voted the 2008 Eclipse Award as the leading trainer in North America. He trained Curlin, the 2007-08 Horse of the Year, and in 2008 set the record for most wins in a year by a trainer, 622. He currently trains Rachel Alexandra, who upset males in the Preakness Stakes and is a leading contender for 2009 Horse of the Year.