01/29/2017 3:43PM

California appeals court overturns suspension of Quarter Horse trainer


A California court of appeals on Jan. 26 overturned a 2014 California Horse Racing Board ruling suspending Quarter Horse trainer Jose De La Torre 38 months and fining him $160,000 for four clenbuterol positives at Los Alamitos in 2013.

The decision is not expected to result in De La Torre training at Los Alamitos; he remains banned from participating in races by track management. De La Torre will be allowed to apply for a trainer’s license, according to his attorney, former Thoroughbred trainer Darrell Vienna.

In its decision, the court of appeals stated that the racing board exceeded its authority when it issued three temporary 12-month bans on the use of clenbuterol from 2011 to 2013. Judge Elwood Liu ruled the racing board’s penalties against De La Torre were invalid because the penalties cited violations for clenbuterol positives that occurred more than a year after the original 12-month ban on clenbuterol had expired.

Liu cited a section of California’s Code of Regulations that states temporary bans on previously authorized substances “shall not exceed 12 months.” He said the rule does not allow repeated temporary bans.

The racing board has since started the process for a permanent rule banning the use of clenbuterol in Quarter Horses.

Independently, Los Alamitos has a house rule that prevents use of clenbuterol. The track conducts hair follicle testing on qualifiers for major stakes.

De La Torre trained two World Champions – One Dashing Eagle in 2012 and Last To Fire in 2013.

He was cited for four clenbuterol positives in races at Los Alamitos from September to November 2013. De La Torre’s case was heard by a hearing officer, who recommended a two-year suspension and a $100,000 fine.

The board rejected those recommendations and issued a 38-month suspension and $160,000 fine. The racing board suspended De La Torre 60 days for his first offense and an additional one year for the three subsequent offenses, with the penalties to be served consecutively.

He was fined $10,000 for the first offense, and $50,000 for three subsequent offenses.