08/20/2012 11:21AM

Horsemen's Park: Nebraska trainer Veerhusen suspended for dermorphin positive


Kim Veerhusen, a trainer based at small tracks in the Midwest and Southwest, has been suspended through Sept. 19 after a horse he trains tested positive for dermorphin, the morphine-like substance that has been found in post-race tests at tracks in Louisiana and New Mexico.

The suspension was levied on Aug. 4, according to a ruling from the stewards at Horsemen’s Park in Columbus, Neb., three weeks after Veerhusen’s horse Cheatin Cowboy finished second in a July 15 race at Horsemen’s. Cheatin Cowboy was disqualified from the race and the horse’s $1,400 share of the purse was redistributed. Veerhusen was also fined $1,500.

Stewards in Nebraska are limited to handing down a maximum suspension of “the duration” of the race meet at which the positive occurred plus an additional 10 days, along with a maximum of a $1,500 fine. The case was referred by the stewards to the Nebraska Racing Commission for “any further action they deem necessary,” the ruling said.

Tom Case, the executive director of the Nebraska Horse Racing Commission, said that the commission can hand out an additional suspension of five years and an additional fine of $5,000. Case would not comment on specifics of the case except to say that it is “still under investigation.” He said a hearing would likely be held near the end of September or beginning of October.

Dermorphin, an opioid that is naturally produced by some South American tree frogs, began popping up in post-race tests in July at tracks in Louisiana and New Mexico. Trainers who have been suspended in those cases are also facing additional penalties from racing commissions.

According to a database on rulings maintained by racing organizations, Veerhusen has been fined or suspended nine times over the past seven years for a variety of medication violations. Six of the fines were after horses tested positive for overages of the commonly used painkiller phenylbutazone. The three others were positive tests for methocarbomol, a muscle relaxant; flunixin, a painkiller; and acepromazine, a tranquilizer that is often administered with antibiotics.