Updated on 06/10/2016 4:21PM

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

Rob Smoke More than 1 year ago
Yeah...and what are the NYRA stewards on?  They target individuals for bludgeoning, and who really believes there's some sort of pure set of motives at work?  I grew up in NYC -- as much as I can help it, I never bet a NYRA track and recommend others follow suit.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Come all the pot heads on here defending pot use . No one wants to ban your favorite hobby. The racetrack in charge of expensive and  volatile animals is just not the place for you to be high or drunk. Just like we don't want pilots on pot . It's that simple. 
Earl Rhodes More than 1 year ago
Has nothing to do with his training ability , come to Cali , by the way did you know there are children who cant stop having seizures six or seven times a week , you know what helped that child , take a guess , and let me get this straight Private Zone smoked weed , oh it was the trainer , who was suppose in the race ?   
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
of course it has everything to do with his training ability. no one is advocating not giving children with seizures what ever they need to help them. We are talking about a grown man with responsibilities to take care of some 60 horses he trains. animals that have routines that need to be kept . medical issues that need to be constantly evaluated. equipment that needs to be properly put on etc. to come to that unprepared 100 % is a disservice to your owners and your employees and the horses. Lets say PRIVATE ZONE ran and the saddle slipped off during the race causing a huge pile up, and they found out that the trainer was high on weed while putting on the saddle. now a saddle slipping can happen and its an accident but my question is if the trainer was high on weed would it still be an accident or something else ?.
Tommy Massis More than 1 year ago
give trainers breathalyzer  tests on race day and the card would be cancelled
ed More than 1 year ago
I think they should test the NYRA officials for greed. They would all fail. A dying sport is run by such short sighted nitwits. The horse and the owners have not anything to do with pot. Has nothing to do with the wellbeing of the horse or the sport. How about dealing with the dopers who juice their horses and could hurt the horses with their chemicals. 
Jennifer Halkett More than 1 year ago
Just goes to show how archaic the NYRA clearly is!!
David Rubinstein More than 1 year ago
I could not agree more with Bob (immediately below).  Can NYRA join us in the 21st century?  Please?  Its decision is pathetically unenlightened, puritanically disgraceful, the literal embodiment of an unbalanced, irrational double-standard, and, in any case, punitively disconnected and draconian.  How long can something so obvious to the governed remain invisible to the few empowered to govern?  How stale and out of touch must laws become before change is made?  Too stale and out of touch for my taste, and I'm sure for the taste of the suffragettes, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali as well.  NYRA needs to summon the courage to change rule.  We only have one life to live, and I, for one, wish to spend as little of mine as possible in the Dark Ages.  Just a shameful decision, and state of affairs.  On the lighter side, John's rendition (also below) of Brian's munchies cracked me up.  It was almost as hilarious as the idea of a horse trainer having his license revoked, his means of earning a livelihood extinguished, because he smoked pot, the private and personal enjoyment of which having long since been decriminalized in New York.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Give me an f-ing break! Trainers are routinely found in violation of medication rules and they suffer little if any consequences. When they do, their horses are simply transferred over to the barn's assistant trainer  and business continues on as usual!

Meanwhile, Lynch sparks up a doobie for a little R&R and suddenly the heavens fall out of the sky?

The NYRA is full of it! Go to any paddock bar after a day of racing and you are likely to see any number of trainers and jock grabbing a beer or chugging down a double highball. What's the beef with twisting up a fat boy every now and again? If I owned a race horse I would much rather have him trained by a pot smoking Brian Lynch than by most of the drunken fools who stagger around racetracks throughout the country posing as trainers!
john gardner More than 1 year ago
I heard what brought this to NY officials attention was that Brian kept making trips to the concession stand buying small bags of chips, candy bars, and bottle water. Officials got very concerned after Brian reportedly bought 17 bags of Fritos, 8 bags of Doritos, 6 Snicker bars, 3 Butter Fingers and numerous bottles of water. It was also reported by track officials that everything said Brian busted out laughing! At one point, he even fell on the floor laughing so hard. But, the icing on the cake, not really, was when even told he would be suspended, Brian busted out laughing so hard he was crying! While walking away, Brian's last comment was he would appeal, but track officials did not know if he was serious because he was laughing very hard the whole time.
johnreilly29 More than 1 year ago
what bullshit  a random for weed !!
gradeonewinner More than 1 year ago

Decarl Smith More than 1 year ago
Thatz a lot of b.s..The horse is running the race not the man, nor is he the man riding the horse...Rest assured some loser knew he didnt have a snowball chance in hell to win the race if lynch horse was running, so the skunk of sap sucker dropped a dime... Test one test all....Now, i am gonna go blaze one for brian,bytchez