08/29/2007 11:00PM

Biancone draws 15-day ban for caffeine


Trainer Patrick Biancone was issued a 15-day suspension on Thursday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority after one of his horses tested positive for caffeine and a related drug following a race at Churchill Downs in May.

Biancone will serve the suspension from Sept. 5 to Sept. 19, according to Lisa Underwood, the executive director of the authority.

According to Underwood, Biancone has told the authority that he will not appeal the suspension.

On June 22, investigators from the authority searched Biancone's barns at Keeneland Racecourse, along with the truck of his veterinarian, Dr. Rod Stewart. According to Underwood, the investigation related to the barn search is still "ongoing," but Underwood refused to answer any other questions about the search or investigation, citing authority policy.

According to a source close to the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity, investigators discovered a vial of the crystalline form of cobra venom during the searches. Cobra venom is a prohibited substance that can be used as a powerful painkiller.

Biancone's suspension is related to two post-race positives following a win by the 2-year-old filly L'Aziza in the fifth race at Churchill Downs on May 3. In addition to caffeine, the tests revealed theophylline, a drug that is used to treat respiratory diseases and asthma.

Both drugs are considered Class B substances under guidelines developed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Class B substances have a high potential to impact performance but can also be used therapeutically.

Biancone did not return a phone message late on Thursday, and his attorney, Frank Becker, could not be reached.

Biancone, 55, is a native of France, where he began training in the 1970s. He moved to Hong Kong in the 1990s, but left the country in 1999 for the United States after two of his horses tested positive for banned medications. He did not receive a license in the United States until a suspension levied by Hong Kong authorities had expired.