01/23/2011 8:01PM

Oaklawn stewards suspend Marty Wolfson for failure to pay fine


The Oaklawn Park board of stewards has suspended trainer Marty Wolfson for failing to pay a $500 fine stemming from It’s a Bird’s disqualification from the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap in 2009. The suspension is effective immediately, according to a ruling issued on Sunday.

Wolfson could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.

It’s a Bird tested positive for naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, following the April 2009 race. He was disqualified by the Arkansas Racing Commission during a hearing in July 2009 and the winning purse was ordered redistributed. The horse’s connections appealed to circuit court, and in September 2010 a judge upheld the commission’s decision. There was not a further appeal, and the purse earnings, which had been paid out shortly after the Oaklawn Handicap, were returned to the Arkansas Racing Commission.

Wolfson’s portion of the purse was also been returned, according to a commission official. But the $500 fine originally assessed to Wolfson in the case in a ruling from July then upheld in court last fall, was still outstanding as of late Sunday afternoon, according to the stewards at Oaklawn.

Wolfson “shall remain suspended until such time as the fine is received in the [Arkansas Racing Commission] office and is denied access to all facilities coming under the jurisdiction of the ARC,” reads the ruling issued on Sunday.

Arkansas has a zero-tolerance policy on naproxen, which is a Class 4 medication violation. It’s a Bird was retired in January 2010, and his owner, Edmund Gann, died a month later, at age 86. The horse’s wins included the Sunshine Millions Classic, the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap, and the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap.