Updated on 02/06/2013 10:36AM

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.

Anna Purcell More than 1 year ago
This isnt about me training a horse. I have zero knowledge of this filly's training and issues, therefore Im not in any sort of position to comment directly in his case. I actually happen to be very pro-use of muscle relaxants and NSAIDs in this industry..injuries happen and muscle relaxants and NSAIDs play an integral role in getting them over things and moving forward..its very ignorant (if not borderline cruel at times) to think otherwise when you're dealing with living flesh. So Id give Stall benefit of doubt while assuming trainer's responsibility for erroneous administration of robaxin by his staff. Im not insinuating this is the case here, but there is a rather line between working thru problems and actually running sore horses...thats where horsemen stand apart from chemists.. There's usually an underlying cause for muscle soreness that needs to be addressed and not merely patched up race to race... in this case, it's stated that Sign had RH fetlock surgery about 2 1/2 months after the Pocahontas... I dont work with her, so one can only speculate whether they are related..
Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
Iam partnering in an racehorse myself, I,ll race without med,s or do not race at all.And yes iam paying a part from the bills.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
@ Ben & Anna Could you explain how you train horses without minor aches? Also are you willing to put up YOUR money to pay for the training so we can bet on these fine animals?
Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
Dont, run sore horses, but give them a spell
Pat More than 1 year ago
He should have used cobra venom
Anna Purcell More than 1 year ago
Hmmm, lets see...in KY, Robaxin by mouth is 3 days out, IV is 2 days out. With all due respect, if the filly is so sore, maybe you shouldnt be running.
avlamal More than 1 year ago
u know what this is ben gay incredible overkill
Anil More than 1 year ago
This angers me "parimutuel wagering is not affected".......they take us all as fools....
Charles Levy More than 1 year ago
On 10-28-2012 Abert had a positive at Turfyway . 250.00 fine lost purse money .Methocarbamol .Now this doesnt make sence TVG broadcaster Thomas M Amoss had 3 Methocarbamol bad testes in 365 days never got days didnt lose purse fined close to 3k Guess he should of hired Maggie Moss Thomas biggest owner .
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
I think it has just come to a point where it is not humane to race horses anymore if we can't give them something when they are sick or sore.. racing needs to be shut down completely then