02/13/2003 12:00AM

Gulfstream bans veterinarian


Leonard Patrick, a veterinarian for the controversial trainer-owner team of Mark Shuman and Michael Gill, was barred from the grounds of Gulfstream Park on Thursday for violations uncovered during a search of the veterinarian's equipment and vehicle on Monday.

The specific violation cited was a failure to comply with federal regulations regarding the storage of drugs, according to a statement issued by Gulfsteam. Patrick was already under probation at Gulfstream for omitting parts of his history on a license application, including his involvement in a 1997 criminal case.

"This was an integrity issue, and we're not going to tolerate it," said Scott Savin, president of the track, who declined to be more specific.

Patrick was searched on Monday along with another veterinarian, Philip Aleong, who is also connected to Gill and Shuman. The searches were conducted by Gulfstream Park personnel along with investigators from the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau. Regulators with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering were invited by Gulfstream to act as "witnesses," officials said.

Patrick did not respond to a message left on his voice mail on Thursday afternoon.

Shuman declined to comment about the ruling, saying that he uses five veterinarians in his operation.

It was not immediately clear whether Patrick had any clients in south Florida other than Gill and Shuman. According to Savin, Patrick arrived in south Florida just before the beginning of the Gulfstream meet and filled out his license application with the state correctly. But, Savin said, he omitted several pieces of information about his history from his track license application.

Patrick was convicted in 1997 of conspiring with a Thoroughbred owner to kill the horse Oblige in order to collect a $75,000 insurance payment. The conviction was later reversed when a judge ruled that the owner, Patrick Deo, would not be allowed to testify against Patrick in Patrick's appeal.

During the initial trial, Deo testified that Patrick killed Oblige by injecting fecal matter containing the E. coli bacteria into the horse's knee, leading to a massive infection. Patrick has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Shuman and Gill are the runaway leaders at Gulfstream Park this season, with 37 winners from 134 starts through Thursday. Both have been suspended for medication violations in the past.

Shuman and Gill's operation came under scrutiny starting Feb. 3, when Casual Conflict, a 9-year-old gelding owned by Gill and trained by Shuman, suffered a catastrophic breakdown midway through a claiming race. After the horse was euthanized on the track, investigators have said, Aleong amputated the damaged leg without the approval of state or track officials.

State regulators confiscated the leg, calling its removal highly unusual. The damaged right front leg and the horse's left front leg have been sent to the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine. The legs are being tested for drugs and examined for any prior damage that may have led to the breakdown.

Officials said the searches conducted on Monday were connected to the Casual Conflict investigation. The day of the searches, Dave Roberts, the director of the the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, said that investigators had also searched Shuman's barn.

On Thursday, however, Roberts said he had been mistaken. A refrigerator in Shuman's tack room was searched on Monday because it was being used by Patrick, Roberts said, but Shuman's barn was not the target.

Savin also said on Thursday that Shuman was not a target of the searches earlier in the week.