01/25/2013 4:37PM

Oklahoma Quarter Horse trainer suspended 20 years for 10 dermorphin positives

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The Oklahoma Racing Commission has set penalties on the first dermorphin cases in the state, suspending trainer Roberto Sanchez-Munoz 100 years and fining him $100,000 for 10 different positives for the Class 1 drug found in horses he raced during the 2012 Quarter Horse meet at Remington Park. In addition, Munoz’s brother and assistant trainer, Alejandro Sanchez-Munoz, was suspended 20 years and fined $10,000.

Cody Kelley, an attorney representing the brothers, said through a staff member Friday that he did not have a comment on the case.

Remington’s board of stewards issued rulings in the Munoz cases in October, then referred the cases to the commission for penalties. The commission on Thursday upheld 12 of the 20 rulings against the men. They dismissed eight counts against Alejandro Sanchez-Munoz, 31, only holding him responsible for two of the horses because he owned those runners. The positives took place between April and May 2012. Purses for all of the races were ordered redistributed.

Roberto-Sanchez Munoz, 38, was fined $10,000 per positive and suspended 10 years for each count. The panel ordered that he serve 20 years, with the remaining 80 years suspended. The suspensions could begin as early as Feb. 21, if the men do not appeal the penalties.

“The next thing that happens is that the commission staff was instructed to prepare a preliminary order that will be reviewed by the commission at the Feb. 21 commission meeting,” said Tino Rieger, executive director of the Oklahoma Racing Commission. “Upon the order being signed, the penalties will be effective. There is some appeal time in the court system.”

Dermorphin is a highly powerful painkiller. During the stewards hearing in October, Dr. Steven Barker, director of the Equine Medication Surveillance Laboratory at Louisiana State University, testified that dermorphin is the most potent natural opiate peptide known, and that it is about 40 times more powerful than morphine.

The racing commissions in Louisiana, Nebraska, and New Mexico also have had dermorphin cases in the last year. Accurate testing for the drug is said to have first became available in April.