06/25/2008 11:00PM

N.J. officials test more than 40 Levine horses


Officials of the New Jersey Racing Commission on Tuesday drew blood samples from all of the horses trained by Bruce Levine at Monmouth Park as part of the state's random out-of-competition testing program, commission officials and Levine said on Thursday.

Frank Zanzuccki, the executive director of the commission, said that the commission did not have specific information regarding Levine's horses or evidence of blood-doping use prior to taking the blood samples.

"It was a action that we deploy as part of our out-of-competition testing program," Zanzuccki said. "Sometimes it is random, sometimes it is based on prior information. In this case, it was random."

Levine, a leading trainer in New York and New Jersey, currently leads the Monmouth trainer standings by a wide margin. Through Wednesday, Levine had won with 27 of his 56 starters at the meet, a win rate of 48 percent.

Levine said that he was not at Monmouth on Tuesday and that his assistant trainer informed him of the presence of the officials prior to the blood withdrawals. Levine has more than 40 horses at Monmouth.

"My assistant told me that a commission official and a state vet were there looking to take blood," Levine said. "I had no objection. I told them to go ahead."

New Jersey passed rules allowing for out-of-competition testing in mid-October of last year. Since then, the state has drawn blood from horses trained by 15 to 20 trainers in the state, Zanzuccki said. Only one, the Standardbred trainer Ernest Adam, produced positive test results for EPO, one of two common blood-doping drugs. Adam and the owner of the horses, Steven Slender, were both banned for 10 years and fined $50,000. Slender has appealed the ruling.

Out-of-competition testing is necessary to catch the use of blood-doping drugs because the medications are not typically administered near a race. The drugs are reputed to help horses boost the production of oxygen-carrying red-blood cells.