07/24/2017 10:39AM

Kearl among three Quarter Horse trainers cited for medication violations


Three Quarter Horse trainers, including two on the breed’s top 10 list by wins this year, have been charged with Class 1 drug violations in Texas after horses they trained tested positive for a banned antidepressant.

According to Texas Racing Commission records, Judd Kearl, who is second among Quarter Horse trainers in wins this year, was charged with five violations after positive findings for the drug nomifensine, an antidepressant developed 50 years ago that can have stimulant properties when administered in large doses to humans. The drug has not been commercially available in the U.S. since 1986, when its manufacturer withdrew it from the market.

One day after the violations were issued, Kearl won the $1.15 million Rainbow Derby on Saturday at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico with Hold Air Hostage, the 2-5 favorite. Then, on Sunday at Ruidoso, Kearl won the $1 million Rainbow Futurity with Eagle Jazz, the 7-10 favorite.

In addition, trainer Jose Sanchez, sixth in wins this year,, was charged with two violations for the same drug. Trainer Brian Stroud was charged with one violation. All of the horses who tested positive raced at Retama Park in June, with one exception, a horse who raced at Sam Houston in May.

The Texas Racing Commission conducts testing for both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races in the state. To date, there have been no positive tests for nomifensine in Thoroughbred horses. Over the past decade, Quarter Horse racing has been rocked by several scandals involving what appeared to be widespread abuse of a particular drug that had not spread similarly to the Thoroughbred world.

The trainers have all been asked to appear at hearings in front of the commission in early August. Each Class 1 positive carries a maximum penalty of a five-year suspension and a $25,000 fine, according to the commission records. The commission’s executive director can levy an additional five-year suspension and a $100,000 fine for each violation.

Kearl is one of the most successful Quarter Horse trainers in the U.S. He led the country in wins last year with 129 from 474 starts and had purse earnings of $4.6 million, according to records from the American Quarter Horse Association.