02/06/2009 12:00AM

Badgett draws penalty for carbon dioxide

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OZONE PARK N.Y. - Trainer Billy Badgett faces a 60-day suspension and a $1,000 fine after one of his horses tested for an excess level of total carbon dioxide at Aqueduct last month.

Badgett is appealing the penalties, which were announced by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and scheduled to begin on Friday. He will be allowed to train pending a final disposition by the board. Badgett won Friday's sixth race at Aqueduct with Exclusive Scheme.

According to the racing and wagering board, the Badgett-trained Wild Conga, who won the sixth race on Jan. 9, had a prerace carbon dioxide level of 37.3 millimoles per liter, .3 of a millimole higher than the allowable threshold. Four confirmation tests came back with a mean score of 37.6., according to a racing board spokesman. All the testing was conducted at the University of Cornell laboratory.

Wild Conga then underwent further testing during a mandatory three-day quarantine at Aqueduct's security barn, and his level dropped below the 37 millimoles, evidence enough for the board to determine the horse's carbon dioxide levels were not normally high.

Badgett, who said that he gave Wild Conga the electrolyte Lifeguard 48 hours before his race, said the horse's quarantine carbon dioxide levels were above 35 millimoles, which Badgett said is considered high normal. Badgett said the normal range is 30 to 32 millimoles. A spokesman confirmed that one test was in the 35 range, but subsequent tests were closer to 32.

The racing and wagering board instituted prerace carbon dioxide testing in 2005, saying the purpose was to detect the illegal practice of administering a "milkshake," a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar, and electrolytes given a horse in hopes of reducing fatigue, thus enhancing performance.

"Nobody in their right mind in 2009 is going to give a horse a milkshake," Badgett said.

Wild Conga was disqualified from first and unplaced in the order of finish. Wild Conga is the first horse to test for an excessive level of carbon dioxide since 2006, when horses began being tested before they were administered Lasix.

From now until July 15, no matter where Wild Conga races, he must report to a security barn six hours before he runs.

Badgett, 56, is best known as the trainer of Go for Wand, the two-time champion filly who suffered a fatal breakdown in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Belmont Park.