07/17/2013 2:58PM

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission restores Sign's win in Pocahontas Stakes

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FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved a settlement agreement at a meeting Wednesday that nullifies a stewards’ decision in 2012 to disqualify Sign from the 2012 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs and order the purse redistributed.

The settlement will restore the winner’s share of the Pocahontas purse to Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, who co-bred and co-own the filly. The Pocahontas is a Grade 2 race, and the reversal of the disqualification also will restore the black-type win to her catalog page.

The approval of the settlement came eight weeks after a two-day hearing in late May in which attorneys representing trainer Al Stall Jr. and the filly’s owners argued that the stewards went beyond the state’s regulations by ordering a disqualification. The stewards made the decision after Sign tested positive for an illegal amount of methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant that is commonly administered therapeutically to racehorses.

The settlement acknowledges that the stewards improperly interpreted the state’s regulations, said Bill Lear, one of the attorneys for Sign’s connections, after the commission voted unanimously to approve the settlement following an executive session in a hearing room at the Capitol Annex building in Frankfort.

The agreement is a victory for Sign’s connections, and especially so for Claiborne Farm, whose owner, Seth Hancock, attended both days of the hearings. Hancock is famously intolerant of illegal drug use, and he acknowledged during the May hearings that he had disputed the ruling in order to clear Claiborne’s name.

Stall said he had never administered methocarbamol to Sign, and he produced veterinary records at the hearing that did not show any record of the filly receiving an administration of the drug.

Nevertheless, Stall accepted a $500 fine for the Sign methocarbamol positive under the settlement. He also accepted a $1,000 fine for a second methocarbamol positive that was detected in another horse who ran at Churchill 10 days after Sign won the Pocahontas.

Attorneys representing the state had argued during the hearing that it was mandatory to order a disqualification in nearly all cases of medication positives under new rules adopted last September. They have now changed their tune.

“It’s our position now that the regulation is discretionary,” said Susan Speckert, the commission’s general counsel.

Ken Wiener More than 1 year ago
So now that disqualification is discretionary, have the stewards been provided with any guidance as to how to exercise their discretion so that every case does end up before the KHRC?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone getting tired of the Rules for the wealthy & the Rules for the ordinary guy being different, the fact is the racing commission has terrible lawyers that a high paid law firm can embarress legally.. That's the fact , It really doesn't matter the crime if you bring a BIG name lawyer in they run& hide.. Rules really only apply to the ordinary guys .. The horrible truth.!!! IF YOUR TIRED OF IT LiKE I'AM QUIT GOING TO THE RACES, THEY WiLL NOTICE WHEN THEIR POCKETS GET LIGHTER.!!!!!!
Dennis Geier More than 1 year ago
ANOTHER BLACK EYE FOR RACING THE COMMISION IN THIS CASE MADE THE RULE THEN WHEN ONE OF THE STATES LEADING BREEDERS CLAIBORNE FARM HAS A HORSE TEST POSITIVE THEN THE STEWARDS INTERPETED IT WRONG WHAT A JOKE HAD THIS BEEN A SMALL OUTFIT OR HAPPEND IN A DIFFERENT STATE IT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE WOUND UP A LITTLE DIFFERENT BOTTOM LINE A RULE IS A RULE GOOD OR BAD WHEN U BREAK THE RULE NO MATTER IF YOUR LAST NAME IS HANCOCK OR SMITH U HAVE TO DO YOUR PUNISHMENT BAD BAD DECISION
Dennis Geier More than 1 year ago
HERE WE GO AGAIN EVERYONE IS ALWAYS SAYING THAT RACINGS RULES ON MEDICATION OR NOT ENFORCED ENOUGH WELL HERE IS PRIME EXAMPLE OF WHY YOU HAVE A RULE THE STEWARDS ACT ON IT BUT ITS CLAIBORNE FARM THIS TIME WHOS HORSE TESTED BAD SO NOW THE RULE THAT THEY MADE WAS INTRPETED WRONG THEY MADE THE RULE IN THE FIRST PLACE IF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE KNOWN PERSON IT WOULD HAVE REMAINED A POSITIVE OR HAD IY HAPPENED IN ANOTHER STATE IT WOULD AND SHOULD OF REMAINED A POSITIVE BUT POLITICS WON THIS TIME A RULE(GOOD OR BAD) IS A RULE WHEN U BREAK IT U DO THE PUNISHMENT JUST ANOTHER BLACK EYE FOR RACING
Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
Positive is positive, no matter the vet,s record. Flying pigeons with needles???
Cil & Bert Knight More than 1 year ago
1. Sign tested positive. 2. The rules state mandatory DQ and forfeiture of the purse. 3. All rulings have consistently DQed the horse and forfeited the purse. 4. Al Stall was fined $500 for a positive. There must have been a positive. Therefore Sign must be DQed and the purse forfeited according to the rule s of racing in Kentucky. The Stewards have consistently applied the rules as written.
john p More than 1 year ago
a positive is a positive/ so what's the problem The vet records can say,the horse had only hay ,oats and water,but the lad said it was a positive test!