Updated on 04/12/2012 11:52AM

Maryland upholds DQ of Dutrow trainee

Maryland Jockey Club/Jim McCue
King and Crusader crosses the wire first in the Maryland Juvenile Championship only to be disqualified because of the timing of Lasix administration.

The Maryland Racing Commission voted unanimously to uphold a decision to disqualify King and Crusader from his win in the 2011 Maryland Juvenile Championship, casting aside an appeal by the colt’s owner, James Riccio Sr., according to officials involved in the case.

Voting 5-0 after a four-hour hearing, the commission upheld a ruling from the stewards at Laurel Park that King and Crusader should have been disqualified from the Dec. 17 stakes because the horse was treated with the anti-bleeding medication furosemide – commonly known as Lasix – approximately one hour before post time, in violation of a state rule that says that no medication can be administered to a horse within two hours of a race.

The case is being closely watched nationally because King and Crusader is trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., who is facing a 10-year suspension from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board from last October for what it called his long history of violations nationwide. Dutrow, who continues to train while he appeals the New York ruling, was fined $500 for his role in the King and Crusader incident, a penalty that was also upheld by the commission, according to J. Mike Hopkins, the commission’s executive director, who did not have a vote in the case.

Riccio said that he would consider whether to appeal the ruling over the next several days in consultation with his attorney, the former jockey agent Drew Mollica. An appeal would have to be made with the Maryland Circuit Court within 30 days of the attorney general approving the ruling, which is likely to happen this week.

“I’d have to say probably not,” Riccio said, when asked whether he would appeal. “We’ll discuss it and digest it for the next few days.”

Riccio has argued that state and track officials failed to provide adequate instruction to Dutrow when he notified the track that King and Crusader had been delayed while shipping in from New York to Maryland. According to Riccio, track officials did not tell Dutrow that it would be illegal to have the horse administered furosemide after he arrived, although they did provide recommendations on the amount of furosemide that should be administered.

“We don’t deny the horse was treated within the window,” Riccio said. “But it was due to their negligence.”

The stewards had rejected that argument, holding that the trainer is ultimately responsible for any rules violation, an argument that the commission accepted, according to Hopkins.

“The horse was treated within two hours,” Hopkins said. “It’s pretty straightforward.”

During the hearing, it became apparent that at the time of the Maryland Juvenile Championship, Maryland’s stewards were not receiving slips prior to races indicating which horses had been treated with furosemide and when the administrations took place, as required by regulation. Following the Dec. 17 race, Hopkins said, the commission began requiring the dissemination of the slips again.