06/27/2003 11:00PM

Harthill, Scherer fined $2,500 each

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Veterinarian Dr. Alex Harthill and trainer Merrill Scherer on Saturday were fined $2,500 apiece after the Churchill Downs stewards determined that the men had violated regulations concerning the administration of a pre-race Lasix injection.

According to chief steward Bernie Hettel, an investigation found that Harthill left a hypodermic needle filled with Lasix in a desk drawer in a stable office after he had to leave the grounds for a pressing appointment. Harthill had arranged for another veterinarian to give the injection to Our Gang, a scheduled starter in the first race Wednesday, but when that veterinarian failed to show as the mandatory four-hour deadline for treatment neared, Scherer directed his assistant, Lynda Levey, to administer the injection.

A state veterinarian happened to be in the barn when that action was taking place, leading to the investigation and fines. Our Gang, owned in partnership by Scherer and two other men, subsequently was scratched. Levey also was fined $1,000 for her role in the incident.

Harthill, who has treated more than 25 Kentucky Derby winners, has been subjected to numerous inquiries and investigations in a legendary career of more than 50 years.

Scherer, a trainer for over 40 years, said: "I just wanted to run the horse."