03/10/2006 12:00AM

Gill wins reversal on drug tests


A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled for owner Michael Gill and against the New York State Racing and Wagering Board in a case brought by Gill over the disqualifications of two of his horses in 2004 for positive drug tests.

The judge, Ronald Zweibel, found that the board violated the State Administrative Procedure Act by repeatedly passing emergency medication rules while failing to demonstrate that the rules - which were the basis for the disqualifications - needed to be adopted on an emergency instead of permanent basis.

Zweibel ordered the board to nullify the disqualifications and award Gill $24,350 in purse money that had been redistributed. Karen Murphy, Gill's attorney, said that she had filed a motion for Gill seeking damages equal to his legal fees and money he lost after the claim of one of the horses was voided.

"This should have never happened," Murphy said of the disqualifications. "What we have is a administrative body that is adopting rules in secret and sandbagging people. I didn't know the rule had been changed, my client didn't know the rule had been changed, no one knew the rule had been changed."

A spokesman for the board, Daniel Toomey, said: "The board is currently reviewing the decision to determine if any further action is necessary."

The two horses involved - Clay's Rocket and Kalookan Lady - tested positive for the sedative fluphenazine at Saratoga Race Course in August 2004. Clay's Rocket tested positive after winning the second race on Aug. 8, and Kalookan Lady tested positive after running fourth the next day. Kalookan Lady was claimed by trainer Scott Lake for $75,000, but the claim was voided when the positives were announced. She later was claimed out of a race for $5,000, Murphy said.

In late 2003, the board adopted an emergency rule governing the administration of fluphenazine and the sedative reserpine, prohibiting any traces in a horse's system. The rule was adopted five more times on an emergency basis before being finally adopted as part of a broad overhaul of racing rules in late 2005.

Gill sued the board in December 2004, claiming that the emergency rule that led to the disqualifications was "unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious, and an abuse of discretion."