04/22/2013 2:31PM

Godolphin horses test positive for steroids

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni accepted blame for the positives in a statement on the Godolphin website.

Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni faces a likely suspension from British authorities after 11 horses he trains for Sheikh Mohammed’s powerful Godolphin Racing stable tested positive for banned substances in out-of-competition testing, the British Horseracing Authority announced on Monday.

A group of 45 horses trained by Al Zarooni in England were tested on April 9 and the 11 were found to be positive for the anabolic steroids ethylestranol and stanozolol.

The 11 horses include Certify, who was a leading contender for the English 1000 Guineas at Newmarket Racecourse on May 5. As a result of a positive test for Ethylestranol, Certify has been banned from starting in that race, the racing authority said in a statement.

Al Zarooni, who won the 2012 Dubai World Cup with Monterosso, faces a disciplinary hearing with the racing authority, and is likely to be suspended or fined. No date has been set for a hearing.

In a statement on the Godolphin website, Al Zarooni accepted blame for the positives.

“I deeply regret what has happened,” he said. “I have made a catastrophic error. Because the horses involved were not racing at the time, I didn’t realize that what I was doing was in breach of the rules of racing.”

In a statement, Godolphin’s racing manager, Simon Crisford, said, “This is a dark day for Godolphin. Sheikh Mohammed was absolutely appalled when he was told, and this is completely unacceptable to him.”

Crisford said that Godolphin will await the British Horseracing Authority’s inquiry before taking “any further internal action.” He said that Sheikh Mohammed has ordered a review of Godolphin’s “procedures and controls.”

The 37-year-old Al Zarooni, an Emirati, became an official trainer for Godolphin in 2010, and has risen in prominence in that operation in the last few years. Last year in England, he won the Group 1 St. Leger with Encke for Godolphin.

Certify, who won the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last September, is the most prominent horse who tested positive. The 3-year-old filly Desert Blossom, who finished third in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes in 2012, also tested positive for ethylestranol.

Four horses tested positive for stanozolol, including Artigiano, who was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita last November, and Opinion Poll, who won the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan Racecourse in 2012.