10/09/2013 11:43AM

Navarro begins medication suspension


One day after Jorge Navarro took the trainer’s title at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, he began serving a 60-day suspension under a consent order he reached with Florida regulators over six positives for the painkiller flunixin during the 2011-12 meet at Tampa Bay Downs.

The suspension began on Monday, one day after Navarro locked up the trainer’s title with 47 wins at Monmouth and 18 months after the close of Tampa’s 2011-12 meet.

Navarro on Wednesday referred comment to his attorney after briefly stating that the positives were the results of a “mistake I was making in my barn.”

The attorney, Bradford Beilly, said the case took so long to resolve because of the unusual nature of the reporting of the positives and because of Navarro’s attempts to appeal. Beilly said all six positives for the drug, a painkiller, occurred during a 30-day period, but that Navarro did not receive word that he had received any positives until 45 days after the first one occurred.

“It was one of those cases where [he] didn’t know about the first one until he got all six,” Beilly said. “If he had known about the first one earlier, that would have allowed him to address the problem.”

Beilly said the flunixin was contained in a compound paste that Navarro was using on his horses. The drug was “not going through the [horses’] systems fast enough,” Beilly said, triggering positives in post-race testing.

During the meet when the positives occurred, Navarro won 30 races from 94 starts, for a strike rate of 32 percent. While the case was being adjudicated during the 2012-13 meet, Navarro won 33 races from 94 starts, a strike rate of 35 percent and good for fifth in the trainers’ standings.

This year at Monmouth Park, Navarro won 47 races from 146 starts, for a 32 percent strike rate.

Navarro is a native of Panama who has gradually raised his profile in racing over the past five years. According to regulatory records, in the summer of 2012, he was fined $1,500 in Delaware for administering a product containing electrolytes to a horse 24 hours prior to post, resulting in a scratch. In 2011, he had an acepromazine positive and a phenylbutazone overage in Florida. Acepromazine is a tranquilizer that is generally given to horses to calm them to perform a medical diagnosis or treatment, while phenylbutazone is a painkiller.

Under the consent order, Navarro will not be allowed to appeal the suspension. Under a system called reciprocity, other racing jurisdictions are expected to honor the terms of the agreement, putting Navarro on the sidelines until early December.

Beilly said the language of the consent order was agreed to over the summer with lawyers for the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. As for the start date of the suspension – the day after the Monmouth meet – he said that they had argued for a later start, “and the division ultimately agreed that the suspension would start on Oct. 7.”