07/03/2005 11:00PM

No penalty for Violette


The trainer of a horse who exceeded the New York Racing Association's legal blood-gas level will not face any penalties after a second battery of tests on the horse revealed the cause for the overage.

Trainer Rick Violette was exonerated after an appeal process called "a three-day quarantine challenge" showed the horse Worth See'n had "an exaggerated physiological response to Lasix," according to Celeste Kunz, the chief examining veterinarian for NYRA.

Worth See'n, who finished eighth in a turf allowance on June 18, is the first reported horse whose carbon dioxide level was above the 37-millimoles per liter threshold established by NYRA when it began prerace blood-gas testing in February. The testing, conducted on three or four races each card, was instituted as a deterrent to the banned practice of administering alkalizing agents to horses, known as a "milkshake." Horses who receive alkalizing agents - a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and electrolytes intended to deter fatigue - usually show a higher blood-gas level than Worth See'n did.

When a horse tests above NYRA's threshold, the connections of the horse can request a three-day quarantine challenge. During the challenge, the horse is kept in the raceday security barn and is tested both before and after Lasix is administered to see if the blood-gas level changes. According to Kunz, the blood gas level of Worth See'n did rise above the NYRA threshold.

Had the horse not been cleared, then all horses Violette chose to run at a NYRA track for a 30-day period would have had to report to a quarantine barn by 5 p.m. the day before they were to race. Violette also would have been fined $2,000.

"The effectiveness of our protocol showed that the system works," said Charlie Hayward, NYRA's president and CEO. "The quarantine challenge provided us all the backup documentation that we believed necessary, and any horse initially suspected of exceeding the blood-gas level gets a fair opportunity to be re-tested in a high-security environment."

Violette declined to comment.

NYRA officials confirmed that a second horse, Allison's Approval, trained by Deborah Bodner, also has a high blood-gas level. Allison's Approval, who won the fifth race on June 26, has not yet undergone its quarantine challenge.