02/04/2010 12:00AM

Laurel stakes winner tests positive

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Digger could be disqualified from first place in the $70,000 Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel Park on Jan. 16 as the result of a preliminary postrace test showing the presence of a banned substance.

A Maryland Racing Commission official and Digger's trainer, Bruce Brown, confirmed that Digger tested positive for a banned substance, but the results of a test on a split sample taken from the horse have not been conducted so there has yet to be an official ruling.

"There's an investigation into a positive finding at this time," said Mike Hopkins, executive director of the commission, who declined to identify the drug.

Brown said he was told the drug was found in the topical cream Surpass. That medication includes diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Brown said he does not use that medication and he's not sure how the horse came in contact with it. Brown did say that he shipped the horse to Laurel four days out from the race.

"When you have a large number of horses some things are bound to happen, and you can screw up," Brown said. "But I'm still trying to figure out how we screwed up there. It's a little bit of a mystery to me."

Digger is owned by Mike Repole, who doesn't believe his trainer gave the horse the medication.

"I don't think it was foul play as much as maybe some other animal in the barn was supposed to get it," Repole said. "If the horse tests positive again there's no doubt he had it on him, but it didn't come from Bruce Brown and it didn't come from the groom."

Repole said he plans to run Digger and The Roundhouse in the General George at Laurel on Feb. 15.