Updated on 07/26/2013 9:33AM

Carla Gaines suspended 30 days for testosterone overages

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Southern California trainer Carla Gaines has been suspended 30 days, beginning Aug. 1, and fined $2,500 by the California Horse Racing Board after two of her starters in 2012 tested in excess of the permitted level of testosterone.

The decision was reached by the racing board in an executive session of its monthly meeting July 18. The racing board adopted a proposed decision presented by stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward who heard five days of hearings in late May. The ruling was released Tuesday.

Gaines said Tuesday evening that she plans to appeal the decision.

"I have no choice but to appeal," she said. "I am shocked and disappointed in the decision.

"I was at the entire hearing, and I don't understand the verdict. I'm going to take every step I can to clear my name."

The excessive levels of testosterone were found in post-race urine tests taken from A Little Luckier on July 14, 2012, and Winding Way on July 21, 2012. A Little Luckier finished second in a maiden race for 2-year-old fillies at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 14, 2012, earning $10,000 for owner John Harris.

Winding Way won an optional claimer for fillies and mares on July 21, 2012, earning $42,600 for owner Spendthrift Farm.

In addition to the penalties against Gaines, the racing board ordered that A Little Luckier and Winding Way be disqualified from prize money in the affected races, and the purses be redistributed.

In the racing board’s executive session to discuss the stewards’ ruling, commissioner Steve Beneto recused himself from the decision, according to a racing board spokesman. Beneto owns Elvies Lane, who finished second to Winding Way on July 21, 2012.

According to the statement of facts presented by the stewards, the testosterone positives were caused by the administration of the feed supplement Equi-Bolic, which contains the testosterone precursor dehydroepiandrosterone.

Excessive testosterone is classified as a Class 3 medication violation. Positives or overages in Classes 1, 2, or 3 are subject to loss of purse and a fine or suspension for a trainer. Testosterone is permitted up to 55 nanograms per milliliter in fillies and mares. According to the stewards’ findings, A Little Luckier was found to have 390 nanograms of testosterone, while Winding Way had 193 nanograms.

Split test samples conducted at the University of Florida’s laboratory showed A Little Lucker with 140 nanograms, and Winding Way with 75 nanograms. Gaines, through attorney and fellow trainer Darrell Vienna, challenged the accuracy of the tests, but the stewards rejected that claim in their conclusion.

In a Tuesday afternoon email, Harris, a former chairman of the racing board, accepted the racing board’s decision to redistribute the purses, but described the ruling against Gaines as “completely shocking and an example of an unjust verdict.”

Harris said that due to concerns over the testing procedure, the penalty should not have been so severe, especially considering that the positives were traced to a feed supplement.

“The suspension is clearly uncalled for, and even if it were, it is an exercise of CHRB bullying to require a trainer with a clean record and a number of employees and clients to shut down an ongoing operation in a week,” Harris wrote. “If Carla so requests it, [the] CHRB should stay the ruling to allow her time to consider an appeal. I am fine with the purse forfeiture, but the Gaines sanctions clearly need reversing.

“There is no evidence that there was any intentional use of a prohibited substance.”

If the suspension begins Aug. 1, Gaines’s stable will be out of action for most of the Del Mar meeting, which ends Sept. 4. The stable had a good start to the meeting, winning a division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 17.