08/30/2007 11:00PM

Biancone won't fight ban


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Patrick Biancone, a trainer who is under investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, will not fight a 15-day suspension for the finding of a drug positive in one of his horse's postrace tests, Biancone's attorney said on Friday.

The attorney, Frank Becker, said that the horse, the 2-year-old filly L'Aziza, was administered aminophylline, a drug combination that contains theophylline and ethylenediamine, "more than seven days" before the May 3 race she won at Churchill Downs. The drug, a bronchial dilator that has a close chemical resemblance to the stimulant caffeine, was administered to the filly "because she had a little cold," Becker said.

"It was determined to be a withdrawal issue," Becker said. "It was one of those fluke things that happen from time to time. We fully cooperated with the authority and conducted our own investigation."

It is a violation of state racing rules for a horse to have aminophylline in its system on raceday.

Biancone is scheduled to begin serving the suspension on Sept. 5, running through Sept. 19. All U.S. racing states are expected to honor the suspension.

According to racing veterinarians, aminophylline is no longer commonly used because of the emergence of several other bronchial dilators, such as clenbuterol, that are thought to be more effective. Only one jurisdiction, New York, has published a withdrawal time for the drug, at 48 hours.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, an industry-funded research and rules-developing group, is compiling withdrawal times for dozens of commonly used medications in order to aid horsemen and veterinarians. However, aminophylline is not being researched because "it was not identified as a priority" by veterinarians that the consortium consulted to determine the initial list of drugs, according to the executive director of the group, Dr. Scot Waterman.

L'Aziza tested positive for both theophylline and caffeine, which is a metabolite of aminophylline. Both substances are Class B drugs, which are defined as those with high potential to impact performance that also have therapeutic uses.

Dr. Walter Hyde, the director of Iowa State University testing laboratory that found the drug, declined to comment on the finding and referred questions to the authority. Officials at the authority did not return phone calls on Friday.

Biancone has been under investigation by the authority since at least June 22, when investigators searched his barns at Keeneland Racecourse, along with the truck of his veterinarian, Dr. Rod Stewart. 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. That investigation is still ongoing, although Becker and racing authority officials have declined to comment on any aspect of the case.

Stewart was suspended on Aug. 16 for failing to comply with a stewards' order to turn over files and computer records related to the investigation. On Wednesday, one day after appearing before the stewards and handing over some records, Stewart's attorney asked for a stay of the suspension while he appealed the ruling.

Late on Friday afternoon, Jim Robke, a hearing officer for the Kentucky racing authority, denied the stay, calling Stewart's failure to comply with the order a "flagrant violation."

Stewart's attorney, Karen Murphy, had contended that Stewart could not comply with the records request because he was in his native Australia visiting a sick family member. In addition, Murphy had said that the records request was vague.

Among the documents that Murphy said were turned over during the Tuesday hearing were veterinary records related to L'Aziza, whom Stewart treated as the stable veterinarian for Biancone. Murphy said that the stewards, who are still investigating Stewart as part of the June 22 searches, "weren't interested" in L'Aziza's records.