Updated on 02/06/2013 11:36AM

Churchill Downs: Sign disqualified from Pocahontas win after medication positive

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Sign has been disqualified from her victory in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes after testing positive for the banned medication methocarbomol.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sign, the promising 3-year-old filly bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, has been disqualified from her victory in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes on Oct. 28 at Churchill Downs after testing positive for the banned medication methocarbomol, a Class C drug found in a commonly used muscle relaxant known as Robaxin.

A ruling was posted Monday on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission website mandating the winner’s share of $101,125 from a total purse of $168,150 be revoked and the purse redistributed accordingly. Trainer Al Stall Jr. was fined $250. The decision will be appealed to the full commission, according to attorney David Royse, who is representing the owners and Stall in the matter.

A stewards’ hearing into the matter was held Jan. 26 at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky, where both Royse and Stall were present.

The stewards’ ruling says the positive test was for a trace amount (2.1 nanograms per milliliter) of methocarbomol, with a split sample for the positive being confirmed by the independent testing laboratory at Iowa State University.

Royse issued a statement Monday saying Stall and the filly’s owners “respectfully but strongly disagree” with the ruling, further stating it marks “a sharp departure from stewards’ rulings in recent years.”

Royse said the sworn testimony from Stall and an attending veterinarian was that Sign had never been given Robaxin in her training or pre-race regimen. Robaxin is approved for therapeutic use, but is not permitted in a horse’s system on race day.

The new order of finish gives the Pocahontas victory to the original runner-up, Gal About Town, with all others moving up one position. Parimutuel wagering is not affected.

Sign has been sidelined since undergoing minor surgery on a hind ankle in mid-January. The daughter of Pulpit will not make any of the division's top races in the spring, but Stall has said he is hopeful the filly will be able to return to action this summer.

Sign has finished first in both her starts. She won her career debut in an Aug. 26 maiden sprint at Saratoga by nearly 12 lengths, then captured the one-mile Pocahontas by four lengths as an odds-on favorite. Rosie Napravnik rode the filly in both races.