03/11/2016 3:50PM

Judge sides with owner in dispute over hair-follicle test


A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled on Thursday that Los Alamitos Race Course was in violation of state law when it denied owner Gustavo de la Torre the right to run Runaway Fire in the $175,100 El Primero Del Ano Derby for Quarter Horses last April.

Los Alamitos implemented a house rule in late 2014 stating that all finalists for major stakes would undergo hair-follicle testing for clenbuterol. At the time, the track enacted a zero-tolerance policy for the use of clenbuterol.

Runaway Fire had a positive test for clenbuterol through a hair-follicle test taken after time trials for the El Primero Del Ano Derby last March.

In Thursday’s decision, Judge James C. Chalfant granted de la Torre’s petition for the California Horse Racing Board to set aside a Los Alamitos policy of disqualifying horses from major stakes in the event of positives for albuterol and clenbuterol through hair-follicle testing. Albuterol and clenbuterol are bronchodilators.

Chalfant cited a discrepancy between racing-board rules and Los Alamitos track rules regarding clenbuterol. When the time trial was run, the racing board had a rule in place stating that clenbuterol was not permitted to appear in post-race blood or urine tests of Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos. The racing-board rule did not refer to hair-follicle testing.

Through a spokesman, Los Alamitos track owner Ed Allred said the track plans to appeal the decision. Racing-board officials said in a statement that the decision was being reviewed and that the state attorney general’s office would be consulted before the regulatory body would proceed.

In an interview Friday, Darrell Vienna, who represented de la Torre, said his client is seeking a portion of the purse of the El Primero Del Ano Derby, one of the track’s major stakes for 3-year-olds in the spring.