12/02/2010 4:29PM

Badgett drops appeal, starts serving ban


Trainer Bill Badgett began serving a 75-day suspension on Wednesday after withdrawing his appeal of a penalty handed him by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board steward for one of his horses having an excess level of total carbon dioxide eight months ago. Badgett was also fined $2,500.

Stargleam finished last as a 30-1 longshot in the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct in April, and had a prerace carbon dioxidelevel of 37 millimoles per liter or more, in violation of state law. A subsequent quarantine of the horse failed to show that the high carbon dioxide level was physiologically normal for the horse. Ironically, Badgett said he ran the horse in the race only because the racing office hustled him into the field. Just by starting, Stargleam was guaranteed to earn $6,000 even if he finished last.

A high-level of carbon dioxide is sometimes indicative of the administration of an alkalizing substance such as sodium bicarbonate that can theoretically enhance performance by counteracting the buildup of lactic acid in a horse’s muscles. Badgett has previously said he the only thing he gave his horse was LifeGuard, a feed suppplement many horsemen use and which does contain sodium bicarbonate.

When the penalty was first issued in the spring, Badgett vehemently denied doing anything wrong and pledged to fight the penalty. On Thursday, Badgett maintained his innocence but said he could no longer afford to fight the case in court.

“I didn’t have the finances to fight it,” Badgett said. “I’m still going to say I’m innocent – we did nothing wrong. Their testing is obsolete. They’re 20 years behind the times.”

Badgett said he shipped 20 of his horses from Belmont to a farm in Ocala, Fla., where they will get a freshening before returning in the spring. Badgett is eligible to return on Feb. 14, though he said he wouldn’t return until March 1 at the earliest.

This was Badgett’s second violation of the carbon dioxiderule. A third violation would mean he would be permanently barred from training in New York.