03/25/2015 10:04AM

Five horses trained by Smith cleared to run after cobalt tests


Five horses trained by Kenny Smith at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., have been cleared to run by track stewards after tests on the horses came back clean for high cobalt concentrations, according to the chief steward and Smith.

Three of Smith’s horses are entered on the Friday card at Oaklawn: Witch Alert in the third, Dixie Banner in the sixth, and No Time Limit in the seventh. Stan Bowker, the chief state steward at Oaklawn, said that five horses returned clean tests this week, with another five tests expected “shortly.” A total of 29 horses in Smith’s barn were tested.

Smith had all 36 of his horses at Oaklawn put on the stewards’ list several weeks ago after four of his horses tested for concentrations of cobalt well in excess of 25 parts per billion in the blood. Though Arkansas does not have a rule prohibiting high concentrations of the mineral, the stewards have ordered random tests for the substance throughout the Oaklawn meet.

High concentrations of cobalt are thought by some to produce blood-doping effects. Scientific studies have yet to conclusively demonstrate that the mineral has the desired effect, but most research has indicated that concentrations in the blood cannot exceed 25 parts per billion without administering high concentrations of the mineral, usually through cobalt salts that are sold as supplements.

Smith said on Wednesday morning that he had yet to determine why his horses tested for high concentrations. After his horses were placed on the stewards’ list, he stopped administering all supplements to his horses, with one exception, a vitamin product that does not include cobalt on its list of ingredients, he said.

“I have to wait for all the tests to come back before I make any sense of it,” Smith said. “I think I will know [the source] before all this is done.”

Prior to the horses being placed on the stewards’ list, Smith had won nine races from 66 starts at Oaklawn.