06/25/2008 12:00AM

Dutrow appeals clenbuterol overage


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Rick Dutrow has appealed a 15-day suspension from the Kentucky stewards after one of his horses, Salute the Count, tested positive for an excessive amount of clenbuterol following a Grade 3 stakes race on the May 2 Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs.

John Veitch, chief steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, said Dutrow phoned him Wednesday morning to officially notify him of the appeal. The penalty, which was to be formally issued through a stewards’ ruling later Wednesday, stems from the Churchill Downs Turf Sprint, a $100,000 race in which Salute the Count finished second by a length.

Veitch said it was the first clenbuterol overage “in three years, that I can recall,” since Kentucky medications regulations underwent major revisions by the racing authority. He said the testing lab at Iowa State University, which services all Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks in Kentucky, found the level of clenbuterol in a urine sample taken from Salute the Count to be twice the permissible, or threshold, limit of 41 petagrams per milliliter. The permissible level is 20 petagrams, said Veitch.

Veitch said Dutrow exercised his right to have a split sample tested by an independent laboratory and did so through Louisiana State University. That sample revealed the same level of clenbuterol metabolite that the Iowa State sample did, said Veitch.

Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator, which aids in a horse’s breathing. It is an approved medication, but horses who train on it must test below the threshold limit. The recommended withdrawal time for clenbuterol is 72 hours before a horse is to race.

Dutrow has been in racing’s hottest spotlight in recent months as the trainer of Big Brown, the colt who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but was eased in the June 7 Belmont Stakes. Dutrow has amassed many medication violations during a training career that dates to 1979.

The appeals process, if Dutrow ultimately follows through, will entail a hearing before an administrative officer employed by the state of Kentucky, after which the full authority would hear the case. If he drops his appeal, he will serve the days.

Salute the Count, owned by Michael Dubb and Robert Joscelyn, will be disqualified from the $20,000 he earned for the second-place finish, “once the case is fully adjudicated,” said Veitch.