09/10/2012 3:19PM

Illinois Racing Board finds 26 corticosteroid positives

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Twenty-six horses tested positive for prednisone, a corticosteroid, during late spring and early summer in Chicago. All the positive tests revealed minute traces of a drug permitted to be used therapeutically but forbidden on race day, and trainers whose horses tested positive said they followed the same procedures for administering prednisone that they’ve used for years. The sheer number of rulings issued by Arlington Park stewards on Sept. 2, however, figures to draw attention.

Trainer Wayne Catalano received rulings for overages in 10 horses. Trainer Ingrid Mason had three positives, Frank Springer, Eric Reed, and Scott Becker two positives. Danny Miller, Mike Stidham, Tony Mitchell, Jim McMullen, Richie Scherer, Helen Pitts, and Jim Gulick each had a single positive.

All but one of the horses won, but not because prednisone enhances performance. Rather, Arlington Park in 2010 began paying to have so-called super tests performed on the winners of all its races, a practice that ended (as scheduled months before) July 1. Regular testing procedures would not have triggered positive tests because the level of prednisone detected in all instances was so low. Several positives were called on horses with less than 10 nanograms of prednisone per milliliter of urine. The highest level recorded was 214 nanograms. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. More widely used tests typically measure drug levels using millionths of a gram.

The only non-winning positive was called on Distorted Love after a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails on April 21 at Hawthorne. Super tests were performed on the top three finishers there because of protocols associated with graded stakes. Distorted Love’s positive was the first called. The others came between May 5 and June 30.

Prednisone is a commonly used synthetic corticosteroid (not to be confused with outlawed anabolic steroids). It helps horses experiencing chronic mucus in their respiratory system and has anti-inflammatory properties. The Association of Racing Commissioners International, whose model rules Illinois follows, classifies prednisone as Class 4, the second-lowest on its five-level system. The ARCI has not established a threshold level for prednisone, leaving the Illinois Racing Board and stewards no choice but to call the positives. No horses were disqualified nor purse money redistributed. Trainers were fined from $250 to $1,500, depending on the amount of prednisone detected. Catalano received $6,500 in fines. He said Monday that he had not yet decided whether to appeal.

“If they’d let me know after the first one, we could’ve avoided the rest of them,” Catalano said.

Catalano and other horsemen said they had administered prednisone in the same manner this summer as they had for years.

“We gave it 48 hours out, just like every year that I’ve been in Chicago,” trainer Mike Stidham said.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium doesn’t list a recommended withdrawal time for prednisone in Illinois. Its website, however, does recommend 48-hour withdrawal in California, Kentucky, and New York.

Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
this is really just a distraction from the real medication problems and doping.when top trainers test positive for something serious i bet they cover it up.all this is is an excuse to say that this is harmless and allowed if given within the right withdrawl period.that its a 48 hour vrs 24 hour mistake by trainers.give them a slap on the wrist, and say see theres nothing wrong here.the truth his proper testing is expensive and tracks dont want the cost of doing it,so it gets sent out to some university somewhere to be done on the cheap by a students.they are always two or three steps behind the cheats.for all this to work well the point of collection has to be secure and done by honest people,then the samples have to be delivered through secure protocols and a split sample taken,then it has to go to a reputable facility and the results made public.also random surprise testing should be conducted at any time at the stables or even at training facilitys or farms like with the olimpics or soccer . but most important kick out the bad apples permenantly,thats actually the best way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A couple of these posters, Szulc and Deckert, are two of biggest idiot posters I've ever seen. They obviously have a vested interest in the sport, probably drug pushing vets, who feel it necessary to belittle several of the posters who are most likely gamblers. These idiots clearly don't understand who really keeps this sport going. In addition, they really don't know much about their meds. While Prednisone can be helpful in a few instances, the use of Prednisone can actually be very detrimental to animals as it has many severe and unwanted side effects. Clearly all these horses using it did not need it. Also, just because the RCI says something is only "therapeutic" and doesn't "enhance performance" doesn't make it true. This is a group that has conflicting goals and much of what they decide is based on information that is biased (i.e., comes from pharmaceutical companies that want to sell product). Clearly Prednisone enhances performance as the list of names of trainers whose horses tested positive include several "super trainers." If Szulc and Deckert really care about the welfare of the horses, like they claim, then they would only recommend using Prednisone when it is warranted...instead of being used to enhance performance as it now is.
Chris Szulc More than 1 year ago
Please don't assert things to me under the posting of "ANONYMOUS". If you really have claims as to who you think I am, please back them up with evidence and use your real name. NO WHERE in my postings did I discuss the USE of the drug or the long term effects. That's for Vets to Discuss, of which one I am not. I am a horseplayer first and owner second. My handle was far past many incomes last year and have contributed thousands to the industry in keeping it going. But anyway, You missed my entire post. We ARE dealing with therapeutic drugs here, are they overused in some cases? SURE....but this is a case across the country. I do agree that certain changes are needed but banning all therapeutic drugs, that when used correctly, can take a horse out of unnecessary pain? I am all for that. These have been used for years. These trainers with these positives have been using this therapeutic drug for years, and MOST horsemen and women have used it cautiously as to not overuse it, over-administer it, etc. Mike Stidham's quote that We give it 48 hours of every race is really not to be construed that he uses the drug in EVERY HORSE that he sends out, as he would have a lot more positives if he did because he is one of the top trainers at AP. I take great offense that you are labeling me an idiot and do not have all the facts. Respectfully, Chris
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You were actually more respectful to me than those you were telling "learn how to read." You and I don't need to compare wagering amounts but I also am a big time gambler and have also owned and trained. Our big disagreement is on who defines "therapeutic". Just because the RCI calls it "therapeutic" doesn't make it so. Many, many, many drugs can be labeled "therapeutic" but we also all know that they can and do enhance performance (you know it...as your response does show you are bright....you just don't want to admit it) I do have all the facts, much more than I want to disclose on a blog. As your response was quite nice, I apologize for idiot...I just think that your responses, as my post was about you, was quite unkind...don't have to agree with people just be civil in your reply. Tex
Chris Szulc More than 1 year ago
Fair enough but my responses are due to aggravation in that people immediately make ASSUMPTIONS and things that aren't true. It specifically stated in the Hersh article above about how testing is done, and yet people assert that the 26 tested positive in a way implying that EVERYONE is tested. I think you know that, though, and can probably understand where I'm coming from. The industry is in the dumps and these assumptions don't Help. And I see your point about how wish-washy "therapeutic" drugs are labeled. No worries, man, I think we actually agree on things probably...
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
The amount of money that one gambles should be the measuring stick for defining therapeutic medication! Why dont you supply us with a fact ,like what percent 26 represents in all horses tested in chi town. You're good at appling your logic selectively. Hit us with some facts.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
Throws the word idiot around loosely. So a gambler is the only one that can give a shortsighted uninformed opinion? Ive got a GREAT idea. Every gambler that passes through the gates has to submit a urine sample that way we know "players" arent making a false favorite. Idiots probably dont know all meds can be detrimental. I know you where standing right next to these guys when the diagnosis was given. Oh wait, no someones an idiot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
poser...no real thoughts of your own...so you really can quit posting
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
LOL U mad my thoughts > yours? ANONYMOUS!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, I didn't know that chronic mucus problems was such a rampant problem in horse racing. What the "it is a such a small amount that it couldn't possibly enhance performance" camp fails to understand is this: if the horse doesn't have a condition why give him even a little bit of the medication? It is like taking Advair every day even if you don't have asthma because it allows you to climb up 10 flights of stairs without feeling shortness of breath. How would any of you like to receive chemotherapy everyday just because you might get skin cancer from walking outdoors during a sunny day? Prednisone is not preventive medication, neither is albuterol, clenbuterol, lasix or any of the thousands of other medications that are given indiscriminately to horses that do not have any afflictions. Go to www.cleanhorseracing.org and learn more.
Kelby Von Hemel More than 1 year ago
Lasix is not a preventative drug? You don't know one thing about horse racing. Do everyone a favor and just leave it alone.
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
Lasix is the real problem. The percentage of bleeders is extremely low, but every horse gets it, and it is destroying the American thoroughbred. Look at the 3-year olds this year. Just don't look too hard or they'll catch something. The longterm impact of Lasix/Salix is disastrous.
Vinod Jhangimal More than 1 year ago
Mr. Von Hemel, With all due respect, a medication is not preventive if the patient DOESN´T have the medical condition for which the medicine is designed. We go back to the chemotherapy analogy again. If you do not have cancer, but get chemo administered to you regularly, is the chemo preventive? The problem is that too many so-called trainers (should be called unlicensed vets or media managers) do not know how to train. But they sure do know how to shoot up the horses on everything under the sun. The increase in breakdowns, shortened careers, positive testing has everything to do with medication and very little to do with training. Am I saying that horses that are allowed to heal and rest properly won´t break down? Of course not, but the disadvantages of giving lasix to a horse that doesn´t need it for a BLEEDING CONDITION are extremely severe to their systems. The horses get dehydrated and you, coming from a family involved in thoroughbred racing for decades, can´t tell me that it isn´t damaging to their health. As for not knowing anything about horses, I am 41 years old and have been involved in horse racing since I was 4 years old. I may have picked up a thing or two along the way.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
Can you define RAMPANT?
mikey More than 1 year ago
The vet get's a free ride.When they start to fine the vet's and take away their license they might think twice.The owner's and trainer's pay for these shot's why would they pay for something unless it will help'
Denise Bennett More than 1 year ago
That's ridiculous. Vets are instructed by their trainers. You are obviously not in the racing industry.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
It's interesting that the writer points out that prednisone does not enhance performance. Yet out of 26 positives the race record is 25 wins and 1 second. I'm sure this has to do with many factors, however if it didn't help a horse perform, they all wouldn't be using it.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
"however if it didn't help a horse perform, they all wouldn't be using it. " I wasnt aware that only 26 horses ran at Arlington this year. Did you ever wonder how many of those 26 where the betting choices ? Lets say some of those where the favorites and their trainers opt to just lead them over full of mucus(because we all (?) know they cant talk) and later find out thats the reason they got beat. Im sure all the peeps in the grandstand that bet that mucus filled horse would be on the DRF the next day bitching about losing their money and blaming the trainer for being "bad" at his job. I contend casting a bad perception is worse than overmedicating.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Wow, never knew there were so many mucus filled horses. Hundreds of em eh?
Chris Szulc More than 1 year ago
Again, you are spewing BS. ONLY winners and top 3 in graded stakes are tested. This drug was probably administered therapeutically in 100s of horses sent out that would have "tested positive" if they tested the field. Please learn how to read.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
My bad. Hardly call it spewing bs though. It's over used to be sure and not for what it's intended.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
And you are probably right. Hundreds would have tested positve. Do you really think hundreds or the vast majority need it or should use it? Don't you think the vast majority using it in such numbers do so because they believe it does aid in performance? Just more bs?
Chris Szulc More than 1 year ago
Well, it differs from horse to horse and trainer to trainer. It seems by the shear number of positives, and this is just my GUESS based on looking at the numbers, is that Catalano is a believer in the tried yet untrue horsemen's creed that If it's worth doing, It's worth Overdoing.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Said right in the article that only winners were tested with the exception of a stakes race.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
you chasing me around sammy? Good for you tiger, you found the one rare error I've made. You're a hoot sammy.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Are you Bafferts drunk uncle?
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Nah, dont drink, never met Bob Baffert. I just love to needle the geniuses. Most of them at the end of the day are going to the pawn shop or the pay day loan office.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Ha, if that's what you were hoping or wishing for, and knew the reality, you would really hate me. Don't be so jealous sammy.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Keep trolling though, you're fun. But, if you want to pick a fight in a battle of wits, you should not enter the fray so clearly disarmed.
Frank More than 1 year ago
Like the one guy said earlier. Its wrong and its cheating -- the information is not public and the bettor has no clue. Forget the fact (as I dont) that its not good for the horses especially the pain, steriod and performance enhancing drugs. I'm an old school horseplayer that will probably bet until I die or the sport does -- however, to keep racing going, the young people will not look past this because of the information age -- it will ruin the sport unless the rules and infrastructures (breeding, etc.) are changed.
robert More than 1 year ago
It still amounts to testing for drugs that are posted on the stable kitchen wall. The trainers and vets read the list and THAT IS WHY "Several positives were called on horses with less than 10 nanograms of prednisone per milliliter of urine" Lets bring in the feds and give them a small % of handle and then drugs that are not on the list in the track kitchen will come back positive and with a much higher presents. the super lab is paid by the track. Keep the contract by not finding anything.
Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
I am wondering how long will this dirty buisiness gooiing on. The trainers and owners are poisening their own feed. Government should take over, and the IFHA racing rules should be in effect as soon as possible. IfHA= International Federation for Horseracing Authorities. Say the worldwide racing ruler
Glenn Thompson More than 1 year ago
This is trainer Glenn Thompson the author of the "The Tradition of Cheating in the Sport of Kings" In the book I describe the rampant drug use on the backside of the racetracks across America and have been trying to bring back Horsemanship and Sportsmanship to the great sport of Racing. What these trainers are going thru in Chicago is wrong! If this has been legal to give for years and then the Racing Commision in Chicago decided to change the rules, they should have let the trainers know. Until we come up with some universal rules concerning drugs, the sport of racing is going to suffer. Prednisone and Dexamethasone are legal to give in New Jersey right now and if they started testing tomorrow and did not let the vets and trainers know, we would have a lot more than 26 positives. Universal Rules are needed for our sport to survive and it is a shame that the Government is going to have to get involved to get it done.
Mark Deckert More than 1 year ago
Well said Glenn.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Great racing want's to be a major sport.This is the only so-called major sport played with different rule's in every state.Every major sport has a leader who enforce's the rule's but not racing.When a player in other sport's is given a suspension in new york he can't play in new jersey COME ON MAN.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
All so true... I think Glenn that I saw you are in line with Mr Strawbridge and that group. It looks like CleanRacing.org is gaining momentum and why should it not? There is the best chance for Racing to conduct its' own affairs. Thanks and good luck Glenn. Here's to more 'Kettle Rivers'.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
As long as any type of medications-- whether legal or not, such as Lasix, buterol or prednisone--are being permitted for usage for any kind of purpose, the problems will exist and magnify to epic proportion, no matter what kind of guidelines or control measures are implemented. Medications' long term effect to horse genetic will evolve and builds up man-made chromosomes to pass on to their future generation and thus weaken its ability to be durable and staying healthy. How about the horse racing industry wakes up and starts doing something for the future instead of appeasing to the greedy owners/trainers/breeders by nibbling around their heels. Every time some racing jurisdictions start to put some kinds of drug guidelines or measures, owners/trainers/breeders come out in drove to oppose them, saying they will out of business if the measures are implemented. If this kind of attitude persists and strong measures are not implemented--guest what? Those same people would be out of the business--maybe not right away, but long term wise, their family--their sons, daughters, grand kids won't enjoy the same kind of success they're enjoying now. Other countries--Australia, the European and the Asian countries--don't allow these stinking drugs, LASIX and Bute to name a couple, and their horses don't seem to have the kinds of problems we're having. So we should take their model and just burn the stinking LASIX, Bute, Prednisone,, etc, out its misery and put the pharmaceutical industry out of business. Oh also, put the vets out of the business. That's is the right thing to do to same the horse racing industry.
Mark Deckert More than 1 year ago
You are very misinformed on "other countries don't allow these medications" Paul. They all allow horses to train on all of the above you mentioned but not run on them. The medication spoke about in the article is allowed for training here as well as there. Our(USA) testing methods are far more stringent than most of Europe and test for close 50 more medications than do they. As far as Lasix is concerned I'll be glad to discuss that issue as soon as ANY scientific testing is done to prove it is anything but beneficial to the horse. As far as your statement about "putting vets out of business " is concerned it shows your complete lack of knowledge concerning horse care, training etc...
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
"Other countries--Aust­ralia, the European and the Asian countries--don'­t allow these stinking drugs" Lets be objective Paul , those countries have different training facilities than the US. Horses in the US also run under some harsh weather conditions, temps well over 100 and below 20 degrees.