10/10/2008 12:00AM

Kentucky hearing officer rules in Dutrow's favor


LEXINGTON, Ky. - A hearing officer of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has recommended that a 15-day suspension for the trainer Richard Dutrow be overturned on the basis that the commission did not prove that a post-race sample was conclusively positive for the prohibited raceday medication clenbuterol.

James Robke, the hearing officer, said in a report after a hearing that the concentration of clenbuterol in the post-race sample, taken from the Dutrow-trained Salute the Count, exceeded the threshold level for the drug when measured in blood plasma. However, Robke contended, the commission did not prove that the concentration exceeded the threshold level in blood serum, as the rule is written.

Jim Carroll, a spokesman for the commission, said on Friday morning that the staff of the commission disputed the hearing officer's recommendation. The staff will prepare a report outlining its concerns prior to the commission's Oct. 27 meeting, where the commission will be asked to vote on whether to accept the hearing officer's report or uphold the stewards' ruling to suspend Dutrow.

Salute the Count tested positive after running second in the fifth race at Churchill Downs on May 2. According to commission records, the post-race sample contained 41 picograms of the metabolite of clenbuterol per milliliter of blood plasma. A split sample contained 40 picograms. The threshold level in Kentucky is 25 picograms per milliliter.

Stewards issued the 15-day suspension in late June. Dutrow appealed the order shortly after it was issued.