Updated on 06/10/2016 3:21PM

Lynch tests positive for marijuana, forcing Private Zone to scratch from True North

Michael Burns
Trainer Brian Lynch

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Brian Lynch is ineligible to participate in New York racing for an indefinite period, according to the New York State Gaming Commission.

A source confirmed that Lynch surrendered his trainer’s license to the gaming commission Wednesday morning at Belmont Park.

Lynch did not return phone calls seeking comment. Drew Mollica, his attorney, declined to comment.

Since Lynch is now unlicensed, his horse, Private Zone, will have to scratch from Friday’s Grade 2, $250,000 True North Stakes, a race for which he was the morning-line favorite.

Lee Park, spokesman for the gaming commission would not give a reason why Lynch is unable to participate in racing, saying only, “The commission determined administratively that he is not eligible to be listed as trainer on race day.”

Rene Douglas, who heads Good Friends Stable, which owns Private Zone, said that Lynch tested positive for marijuana. The gaming commission conducts random tests on backstretch workers for drugs and alcohol, and Douglas said that Lynch was tested. It was unclear why Lynch was selected to be tested.

Douglas said he thought it was unfair that Lynch was tested if no other trainers in the True North had to undergo a test.

“I don’t think it’s fair for Brian, it’s not fair to the owners or the horse,” Douglas said. “It’s not Brian Lynch who is going to run, it’s the horse. The horse is ready to run. We waited five months to run him.”

It is unclear when Lynch will be able to reapply for his trainer’s license. Typically in an alcohol- or drug-related situation, one must participate in a rehabilitation program. It is not clear if Lynch will be required to do so.

Park, in a text, said the stewards gave Lynch 48 hours to get his affairs in order, meaning, in part, to determine who would oversee the care of his horses on the grounds at Belmont Park.

Lynch is not permitted to enter horses in races at the New York Racing Association’s tracks. Royal Squeeze, who is in Lynch’s barn, was entered to run in Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur under trainer David Cannizzo’s name.

Douglas said he would consider running Private Zone in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint at Gulfstream Park on July 2. He said he didn’t plan to remove the horse from Lynch’s care unless he couldn’t be the trainer of record.

“I’m not mad at Brian, I’m human too,” Douglas said.

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 included 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 over the weekend, is being turned out.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch