05/26/2009 11:00PM

It's a Bird tests positive after Oaklawn win


It's a Bird tested positive for naproxen following his win in the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 4, according to an official with the Arkansas Racing Commission. No ruling has been issued in the case, which could be heard before the commission at its next meeting June 9.

Naproxen, a nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory sold for human use under the brand name Aleve, is a Class 4 medication violation. Possible penalties are loss of purse, fine, and/or suspension. It's a Bird, one of the top handicap horses in the nation, won the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on Monday, and in January took the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.

Byron Freeland, an attorney representing the commission, on Wednesday was contacting the connections of It's a Bird to set up a hearing, either before the stewards or the commission. Because there is currently no racing at Oaklawn, which wrapped up its meet April 11, the stewards are not based in Arkansas.

"We're trying to get everyone lined up to get a stewards' hearing, and if we can't do that, we'll go to the commission June 9," Freeland said.

Michael Meuser, an attorney representing both Edmund Gann, who owns It's a Bird, and Marty Wolfson, who trains the horse, said he has made contact with Freeland and wants to go over the documents in the case before making a comment.

"I'm awaiting the information from the commission on the claimed positive," he said.

According to commission officials, a split sample test in the case also came back positive.

The Class 4 category that naproxen falls under includes therapeutic medications "that may influence performance but generally have a more limited ability to do so," according to the guidelines of American Racing Commissioners International. In 2006, Wolfson had two Class 4 positives, for naproxen and isoxsuprine, a vasodilator, on Can't Beat It, who finished second in the Grade 2 American Derby at Arlington Park.

The horse was initially disqualified and placed last, but following an appeal his runner-up finish was reinstated. The Illinois Racing Board retroactively restored the finish after it set threshold levels for isoxsuprine. The naproxen ruling stood, and Wolfson was fined $1,000.

Arkansas has a zero-tolerance policy on naproxen, according to a commission official.