04/24/2013 5:05PM

Godolphin puts al Zarooni-trained horses on 'lockdown'


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the central figure in the racing and breeding entity known as Godolphin, said Wednesday he was putting the English yard of trainer Mahmood al Zarooni on “lockdown” after 11 horses at the stables tested positive for two steroids, according to the British Horseracing Authority.

“We will be locking down the Moulton Paddocks stables with immediate effect, and I have instructed that I want a full round of blood samples and dope testing done on every single horse on that premises,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement posted on the Godolphin website. “I can assure the racing public that no horse will run from that yard this season until I have been absolutely assured by my team that the entire yard is completely clean.”

Al Zarooni’s horses tested positive for stanozolol and ethylestranol, the BHA reported, through standard out-of-competition testing routinely performed in England. Al Zarooni, a Godolphin trainer since 2010, has accepted responsibility for the violations and will be the subject of a BHA administrative hearing Thursday in London. He faces punishment ranging from a fine to a years-long suspension.

Al Zarooni, a native of the United Arab Emirates, reportedly trains about 150 horses for Godolphin. He won the 2012 Dubai World Cup with Monterosso, who was scratched from the World Cup this year on the day of the race.

Two al Zarooni-trained runners tested positive last August for the painkiller propoxyphene, a violation for which al Zarooni was fined.

Before being named head trainer, al Zarooni worked as an assistant for trainer Mubarak al Shafya, who scored a pair of longshot wins for Godolphin on the 2009 World Cup card with Eastern Anthem in the Sheema Classic and Gladiatorus in the Duty Free. In the late 2000s, several Al Shafya-trained endurance racers in the Middle East ran afoul of drug-testing protocols administered by the Federation Equestre Internationale.

Sheikh Mohammed, himself, served a six-month suspension in 2009 when a horse named Tahhan he rode in an endurance race in Bahrain tested positive for two banned substances, one of which was stanozolol. Tahhan was trained by Abdullah bin Huzaim, but the FEI holds endurance riders rather than trainers responsible for raceday medication violations.

In March, Oliver Tait, chief operating officer of Darley, a sister racing entity to Godolphin, resigned from the board of the Breeders’ Cup after the organization declined to expand to all Breeders’ Cup races a ban on raceday Lasix.

“A true world championship . . . needs to be medication free,” Tait said in a statement announcing his resignation.

Among the al Zarooni horses testing positive was Certify, a 3-year-old filly who would have been a leading contender for the May 4 English 1000 Guineas, a race she can no longer contest. Major horses affected by Sheikh Mohammed’s lockdown include Encke, Steeler, Now Spun, and Masterstroke.