05/09/2010 11:00PM

Levine ordered to start ban this month


The New Jersey Racing Commission has denied a stay requested by Bruce Levine and has ordered the trainer to begin serving a 15-day suspension on May 22, the first day of the Monmouth Park meeting.

The commission issued the 15-day suspension after a horse trained by Levine named Trillian tested positive for excessive levels of phenylbutazone, a popular painkiller, after winning the 10th race at Monmouth on July 4, 2008, nearly two years ago. Phenylbutazone is typically administered to horses within several days of a race, and most racing commissions allow the drug to be present in postrace samples up to a certain level.

Frank Zanzuccki, the executive director of the New Jersey Racing Commission, said that he made the decision to reject the request for a stay because Levine had not given the commission a reason to support the request. In addition, Zanzuccki said that Levine had already been granted a hearing into the positive and he did not dispute the positive drug test, and the commission believed that Levine had requested the stay merely to delay the onset of the suspension from the summer to the fall or winter.

"It is the policy of the racing commission to issue a suspension at the meeting at which the trainer had the infraction, and it's not the policy of the commission to issue a suspension so that's it's most convenient for a trainer," Zanzuccki said.

Levine said on Monday that he did not know whether he would appeal the decision. He said he and his lawyer have been considering their options since the request was denied on May 4, and would likely come to a decision on whether to appeal the stay on Wednesday or Thursday.

Levine, who has been the leading trainer at Monmouth Park the past two years, said he did not know how Trillian's postrace test came up for excessive levels of the painkiller.

"Basically, it was an overage, but I guess all bute positives are overages," Levine said.

Because Monmouth has gone to a three-day race week this year, Levine will be suspended for nine days of live racing at the track. All U.S. racing jurisdictions are expected to uphold the suspension as well.