09/18/2013 2:02PM

California Horse Racing Board suspends Vallejo 30 days

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The California Horse Racing Board has suspended Genaro Vallejo, a Northern California trainer, for 30 days under an agreement that closes the appeals process over a post-race positive test for a banned muscle-building drug 18 months ago.

Vallejo, whose horse, Red Dwarf, tested positive for zilpaterol following a race at Golden Gate Fields on April 12, 2012, also was fined $3,000 under the agreement. The deal calls for a suspension of 90 days, but 60 days of the suspension were stayed as long as the trainer does not have a horse test positive for any Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 medications during the 90-day probation period, the CHRB said.

The case has been complicated by the CHRB’s dismissal in early 2013 of a rash of positives for zilpaterol after feed companies acknowledged that some of their products had been contaminated with the drug, which was developed approximately five years ago to build mass in cattle. Vallejo’s attorneys had argued that the horse tested positive because of contamination, the CHRB said, even though the contamination of the products was not acknowledged until 10 months after the horse ran.

At the time that Vallejo’s horse tested positive, zilpaterol was not classified under CHRB rules, meaning the drug was considered a Class 1 medication, which draws the harshest penalties. Since then, however, the CHRB has made the drug a Class 3, which draws lighter penalties.

In addition, the CHRB acknowledged that investigators did not collect feed samples from Vallejo’s barn until two weeks after the incident, despite policies recommending the immediate collection of the samples after a horse tests positive, the CHRB said.

“All of these considerations made the Vallejo case more challenging to sustain on appeal, so the settlement agreement was reached and presented to CHRB Chairman David Israel for his approval,” the CHRB said in a statement. “The legal staff of the board reasoned that in fairness to the licensee in particular and the industry in general, the case should proceed in accordance with the rules and laws in effect at the time of the settlement, which meant treating this case as a Class 3 violation.”

Zilpaterol is a beta-2 agonist that is in the same family as clenbuterol, the regulated bronchial dilator that also can act as a muscle builder when used regularly. In March 2012, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission suspended a Quarter Horse trainer for 3 1/2 years after three of his horses tested positive for the drug in out-of-competition tests. Another trainer at the same facility was suspended for 18 months for one positive test for the drug.