09/22/2010 1:43PM

Four trainers in New York face penalties for giving herbal medication


Four trainers could face penalties from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board after they were found to have given their horses herbal medications on the day they were to race, in violation of state rules.

Trainers Stanley Hough, Chris Englehart, Faustino Ramos, and Michelle Sharp all could face penalties after they or their employees were observed to have given their horse either Air Power or Wind-Aid. The four horses from those barns were scratched out of their respective races at Belmont Park last week by the stewards after they were alerted to the administration of the medications by New York Racing Association security.

The ingredients in Air Power and Wind-Aid are deemed to be all natural by their makers, but the board views them as having drug-like properties.

Carmine Donofrio, the state steward, said the administration of those medications violates a state law that does not permit the administration of any medication that is a “drug or by their nature, exhibit drug-like actions or properties.” The rule states that antibiotics, vitamins, electrolytes, and other food supplements are permissible to be administered orally on race day as long as they don’t exhibit drug-like properties.

“It’s a cough medicine, it’s not anything pertaining to what’s in that rule,” Donofrio said.

In 2009, when NYRA had a race-day security barn, the state suspended California-based trainer Jeff Mullins seven days and fined him $2,500 for administering Air Power to Gato Go Win in the barn prior to the Grade 2, $200,000 Bay Shore Stakes. The horse was scratched.

NYRA eliminated the race-day security barn beginning with this summer’s Saratoga meet. Horses are now required to report to an assembly barn 45 minutes to post time.

Trainer Rick Violette, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, put out an advisory to all horsemen recommending that “no oral administration should be given on race day until a clear and concise list of permissible applications as defined by the steward and the State Racing and Wagering Board is made available.”

Violette said he was hopeful that the state would not penalize the four trainers “anything more than the embarrassment and frustration that they didn’t get to race. . . . The rules are very, very confusing.”