01/17/2017 1:09PM

Attorney for Mario Serey Jr. claims clenbuterol positives result of sabotage

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An attorney for Mario Serey Jr. on Tuesday argued at a hearing in front of the stewards at Penn National Racecourse that a recent spate of positives in the trainer’s barn for the regulated medication clenbuterol was the result of sabotage, the attorney said.

Alan Pincus, who has represented several trainers in Pennsylvania in medication cases over the past several years, said that he told the stewards on Tuesday that Serey had strong reason to believe that an employee he fired late last year had administered clenbuterol to the horses without Serey’s knowledge.

“An employee he fired threatened him, said he was going to get him, and the exact horses [the employee] galloped were the ones that came back positive,” Pincus said. “We believe they are sabotage.”

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This is the second time that Pincus has alleged that clenbuterol positives were the result of sabotage on behalf of a Pennsylvania-based trainer. Last year, Pincus blamed a former groom for the trainer Ramon Preciado for a rash of clenbuterol positives, citing the arrest and confession of the groom. Preciado, who also had multiple clenbuterol positives prior to the arrest of the groom in the summer of 2016, had his license revoked late last year.

Serey is facing five violations for the medication positives, with three arising at Penn National and two at Parx, all in a two-week period. Serey is scheduled to appear before the Parx stewards at a hearing on Friday.

Although Pincus argued that four of the positives were the result of sabotage, he said that the first positive, at Penn National in early December, tested at such a low concentration that it should not have been considered a positive, citing a recent directive from a national medication organization recommending that labs refrain from testing blood for clenbuterol below two picograms per milliliter. The other four positives were for concentrations so high that they indicated the clenbuterol was administered “very close to a race,” Pincus said.

Pincus said that he presented testimony at the hearing from employees in Serey’s barn who had heard the former employee issue the threat.

Clenbuterol is a bronchial dilator that can have steroidal effects, including muscle-building and increasing a horse’s appetite. Like most states, Pennsylvania recommends that trainers refrain from administering the drug within 14 days of a race.

Serey, from a family of horsemen, is one of the leading trainers in Pennsylvania, and he frequently starts his horses with less than 10 days’ rest. Last year, Serey won 94 races from 546 starts, with purse earnings of $2.9 million, a career best for one year. He began training in 2008.

Last year, another Pennsylvania-based trainer, John Servis, speculated that two of three clenbuterol positives called by the racing commissions within weeks of each other in the spring were the result of sabotage. In August, Servis accepted a 15-day suspension for the violations.