11/26/2004 1:00AM

Kimmel fined in 2002 positive

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In a case that dates back 25 months, trainer John Kimmel was fined $2,000 for the finding of cocaine in the postrace urine sample of Essayons, who finished second in the fourth race at Belmont on Oct. 5, 2002.

Kimmel did not receive further penalties because of "reasonable questions raised by the investigation into the incident," according to a release put out by Carmine Donofrio, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board steward.

According to Kimmel, the amount of cocaine found in Essayons's system was so infinitesimal that "if it was in another state it wouldn't be a positive." He added that "it could have come from contamination."

As part of the investigation, all employees in Kimmel's barn had to submit to a drug test. Kimmel said only one person tested positive, and that employee left Kimmel's employment. In fact, that employee has not been seen since, complicating what stewards described as a "thorough investigation."