06/09/2016 12:26PM

Lynch apologizes for failed drug test, vows it will never happen again


ELMONT, N.Y. – One day after surrendering his license for failing a drug test, trainer Brian Lynch took responsibility for his actions, offered apologies to his owners and staff, and vowed that it will never happen again.

Earlier this week, Lynch failed a drug test administered by the New York State Gaming Commission. Lynch admitted to having smoked a “vapor stick” that contained THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical associated with marijuana. Lynch said he is not a regular user of marijuana.

On Wednesday, after meeting with the gaming commission, Lynch surrendered his license. He was given 48 hours by the gaming commission to get his affairs in order, which, in part, meant notifying his owners of his situation and giving them the chance to place their horses with other trainers. Royal Squeeze, who made his last start for Lynch, was entered for Saturday’s Grade 3 Jaipur with trainer David Cannizzo. That horse’s owner, Newtownanner Stud Farm, has horses with Cannizzo.

Starting Friday, Lynch’s New York stable will be taken over by his Woodbine assistant, Erin Cotterill, and horses will run in her name.

Lynch said he has 36 horses at Belmont, 20 at Saratoga, and 15 at Woodbine.

As the results of the test came back after Private Zone was entered on Sunday for Friday’s Grade 2, $250,000 True North at Belmont Park, that horse was scratched by the stewards because Lynch, the trainer of record at time of entry, would no longer be a licensed trainer on race day.

Private Zone is owned by Good Friend Stable, a partnership put together by the retired jockey Rene Douglas.

“I’d love to come with a big crybaby story, but that isn’t me,” Lynch said Thursday in his tack room at Belmont Park. “The only way I can correct it is to make sure it doesn’t happen again. My apologies go out to my owners and my staff, and my heartfelt apologies go out to the connections of Private Zone; the stable name certainly exemplifies who they are.”

On Wednesday, Douglas said he would keep Private Zone with Lynch and said the horse, who has not raced since November, would be pointed to the Grade 2, $250,000 Smile Sprint at Gulfstream Park on July 2.

Lynch said he is required to undergo outpatient drug counseling and said he would be eligible to get a conditional license once he passes a test given by the gaming commission.

“The fact I wasn’t an everyday user, I think I can flush pretty quick,” Lynch said. “I’m going to get a conditional license when I come back, and I’m all for that. The only thing I can offer my owners is reassurance it’ll never happen again.”

It is unclear when Lynch will be tested again. Lee Park, a spokesman for the gaming commission, on Thursday declined to comment on any aspect of the Lynch matter.

Lynch was enjoying a solid start to the year, with 26 wins from 116 starters and $1,325,808 in purse earnings. His top horses include the graded stakes winners Grand Arch, Heart to Heart, and Lightstream, the latter a 3-year-old filly who is 3 for 3 and pointing to the Grade 1 Mother Goose on July 2. Grand Arch was being pointed to the Grade 3 Poker on June 18, while Heart to Heart, after finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita last weekend, is being turned out.

Lynch said he looks forward to putting this incident behind him and moving forward.

“I’m a big boy, I’m a thick-skinned guy. I’ll get through this,” he said. “I’ve got a great staff, and we’ll track on.”

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch

Ray Sousa 11 months ago
I'm always amazed at how much people are willing to give up or risk for drugs. for a grown man with a established stable and a promising career to risk pissing it all away for a joint is mind boggling to me. In this competitive world there are probably a million guys that would kill to be in his previous position. I hope this helps him realize what is important and what his priorities are.
Jack Armstead 11 months ago

I have a question.  Isn't Lynch from Canada? They have legal Medical Cannabis there as well. In fact, I believe I read that there is a certain part of the population who have been "Grand-fathered in" with regard to being able to grow their own medicine (versus paying retail pricing in a dispensary).

My question is this: If a person living in New York had a valid permit from the State to use the Cannabis Oil for something like Crone's disease, would that person still be denied a license to train a horse in NY by the New York State Gaming Commission?  Let's say "Shug" has a serious case of rheumatoid arthritis... would they deny him a license to train if he chose Cannabis Oil versus getting multiple prescriptions for pain pills?

What about a trainer from CA?  Could he go to NY and would there be any reciprocity? 

Very soon, a new law will take place that will prevent the Federal gov't from allocating funds to the DEA for enforcement of laws that are already voted on and governed by other States. The NY State Gaming Commission is forcing Lynch to "lick their boots" and I find this reprehensible.

Lynch has my respect for playing this the right way, politically speaking... however; he shouldn't have to do this in the first place.  Go back to the O'Neil story about drinking tequila after their Derby victory... and how much they consumed the morning of the Preakness to take the edge off their pre-race anxiety... this is such a farce... that it's pathetic.

Earl Rhodes 11 months ago
He shouldn't ! please
Robert Clayton 11 months ago
yada yada yada
Anonymous 11 months ago
Lynch, for whatever issues he may have, is handling it better (publicly) than Rene Douglas and many commenters. I'm pro-marijuana decriminalization. But the current rules are rules, and Lynch signed off on testing. No matter what one thinks about decriminalization or the government getting out of people's private lives, he broke a rule he himself agreed to. Until decriminalization takes a wide effect, until recreational use isn't held against someone's license, you follow the rules, regardless of your opinion on their validity. There, he failed. And he knows he screwed up. And no amount of whining from anyone, from Rene Douglas down to the comments section of any article, negates his obligation to the rules he agreed to when seeking a trainer's license anywhere.
T Flynn 11 months ago
does anyone dare to smoke on track? the message was sent
Jeffrey 11 months ago
There are rules in place and he chose to violate them. The excuse that "marijuana is legal in some states," or "marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, a legal drug" does not cut it. Many people are regularly drug-tested as a matter of corporate or government policy. He knowing behaved in an irresponsible and foolish manner given his employment situation. The fact that racing has lackluster regulation with respect to drug-testing does not logically imply that human participants should be let off the hook for their transgressions. It means that we need to strictly enforce existing rules, or better yet, eliminate race day medications. At least he is owning up to his mistake and showing responsibility after the fact. The solution is not advocate even less responsibility in racing given the culture of corruption. 
Chuck Berger 11 months ago
A lot of of B.S. They catch a top trainer smoking and he gets suspended. They have "elite" trainers giving "whatever" to their horses with tests coming back positive and they get a slap on the wrist.
Is this a great country or not?
Kate Harper 11 months ago
The man smoked a vapor cigarette with some THC in it. So what? Who could or should care?? We have widespread and rampant misuse of drugs in racing and this is a story which requires a suspension? We have jockeys fighting alcohol and other addictions. Yet, this needs to be addressed with a suspension and keeping a top colt out of his upcoming race? Insanity. Patrick Biancone and his use of cobra venom warranted action like this. Not Brian Lynch. I hope all of his owners stick with him. The NYRA is a joke.
Steven Hill 11 months ago
Lose training license for marijuana and then drug counseling Bizarre...is this 1930?