07/22/2009 11:00PM

Oaklawn Handicap purse seizure to be appealed


The connections of It's a Bird will appeal the Arkansas Racing Commission's decision to disqualify the horse from his win in the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap after he tested positive for a banned anti-inflammatory.

Mike Meuser, an attorney representing both Edmund Gann, the owner of the horse, and Marty Wolfson, the trainer, said he was in the process of preparing an appeal that will be filed in circuit court in Little Rock, Ark.

Meuser said he also plans to ask the commission for a stay of its directive to redistribute the purse, which has already been paid to Gann, as well as a stay of the $500 fine that was imposed on Wolfson.

Arkansas has a zero-tolerance policy on naproxen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory sold for human use as Aleve. It is a Class 4 medication violation.

Meuser said he believes there are "due process issues" with the zero-tolerance policy. Meuser said another point is that Wolfson followed the maximum recommended withdrawal times for the medication.

"The purpose of this regulation is keeping people from gaining an unfair advantage through use of medication," Meuser said. "The horse did not gain any competitive advantage, and even their chemist agreed with that, and here we are dealing with forfeiture of a purse."

It's a Bird earned $300,000 for his six-length win in the Oaklawn Handicap on April 4. He is now unplaced in the race as a result of the disqualification, a move that elevates runner-up Runforthedoe to first in the race.

It's a Bird is one of the top handicap horses in North America. He won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic in January, and in May took the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.