10/17/2007 11:00PM

Biancone agrees to a softer ban

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has reached a settlement with trainer Patrick Biancone that will reduce a one-year suspension to six months but bar Biancone from obtaining a trainer's license for one year, the authority announced Wednesday night.

The settlement will prohibit Biancone from entering the grounds of any racetrack for six months instead of the original one-year penalty. However, for the full term of the penalty - Nov. 1 of this year until Nov. 1, 2008 - he will not be allowed to enter any non-public racetrack area. His trainer's license will be suspended for the first six months, and Biancone will be unable to apply for a trainer's license in any racing jurisdiction for an additional six months, the authority said.

Also as part of the settlement, Biancone will be required to withdraw his name as the trainer of record for any horses entered in the Oct. 26-27 Breeders' Cup. According to racing officials on Thursday, the horses will start instead under the name of Biancone's assistant, Francois Parisel, and Biancone will still be able to earn purse money or bonuses based on the horses' performances.

"The loss of a trainer's license, for what is effectively a one-year period, is a serious penalty and supports the decision by the state racing stewards," said the authority's chairman, William Street, in the statement.

Earlier this month, Biancone was suspended for one year by the Kentucky stewards for the possession of cobra venom, a prohibited substance and Class A drug under Ketnucky's medication rules. Cobra venom is a neurotoxin that can act as a powerful painkiller. Three vials of cobra venom were found in a refrigerator in one Biancone's barn at Keeneland Racecourse during a search by authority investigators on June 22.

Biancone appealed the one-year penalty, and the appeal has been dropped as part of the settlement.

Biancone, 55, is the trainer of six horses entered earlier Wednesday in the Breeders' Cup: La Traviata, who was cross-entered in the Filly and Mare Turf and the Sprint; Baroness Thatcher and Danzon, both in the Filly and Mare Sprint; Irish Smoke, in the Juvenile Fillies; Cosmonaut, in the Mile; and Slew's Tiznow, in the Juvenile.

During the first six months of the penalty, Biancone will be prohibited from entering any racetrack but will be allowed to attend horse sales at Keeneland, with the exception of Keeneland's April 2-year-olds in training sale. Part of the 2-year-old-in-training sale takes place at the racetrack rather than the sales pavilion.

Biancone is the first trainer suspended in Kentucky under tough new rules that prohibit a trainer from benefiting financially from his horses while under suspension for a Class A medication. The penalties were put in place earlier this year following a two-year effort to tighten Kentucky's medication rules.

Under the rule, Biancone will have to transfer his horses to trainers with which he has no financial ties. The authority will be able to examine Biancone's financial records during the term of the suspension to ensure compliance, the authority said.

The settlement will allow Biancone to act as a bloodstock agent, consultant, or manager, according to the authority.

Biancone, a native of France, came to the U.S. in 2000 after serving a nine-month suspension in Hong Kong after several of his horses tested positive there for prohibited substances.

In reaching the reduced suspension, the authority said that "mitigating factors" existed. According to the authority, Biancone said that he had no knowledge that the cobra venom was in his barn and that he had not directed a veterinarian to use it.

At the same time that Biancone's barns were searched, investigators for the authority searched the truck of Biancone's veterinarian, Dr. Rodney Stewart. The search turned up two other prohibited drugs that are used to treat Parkinson's disease, along with mislabeled medication. Stewart has been issued a five-year suspension, and he is appealing the penalty.