02/15/2013 3:55PM

Nebraska trainer Veerhusen suspended for two years after dermorphin positive


The Nebraska State Racing Commission has suspended a trainer for two years after one of the trainer’s horses tested positive for the powerful painkiller dermorphin.

The commission issued the suspension and a $1,000 fine Wednesday to Kim Veerhusen, whose horse, Cheatin Cowboy, tested positive for the synthetic opioid after finishing second in a race on July 15 at Horsemen’s Park in Omaha. Tom Sage, executive director of the commission, said Friday that the penalty was “the longest suspension that I know the commission has ever given out.”

In a stewards’ ruling last August, Veerhusen had been suspended through the remainder of the Horsemen’s Park meet, which ended Sept. 19 and fined $1,500. Both were the maximum penalties the stewards could levy. The horse also was disqualified from purse money in the $1,400 race.

Dermorphin, which is derived from a skin secretion of South American tree frogs, began appearing in post-race tests in several states in the summer of 2012 after laboratories designed a test to detect the drug. Multiple positives were called in Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Those jurisdictions have suspended the trainers from two years to 10 years for each positive.

Not including the latest positive, Veerhusen has been fined or suspended nine times over the past seven years, including positives for methocarbomol, a muscle relaxant; flunixin, a painkiller; and acepromazine, a tranquilizer. The other six positives were for overages of the commonly used painkiller Phenylbutazone.