08/21/2008 12:00AM

Owners angered by Shapiro's comments


DEL MAR, Calif. - Gary Barber, who with his brother Cecil is atop the owners' standings at Del Mar, said Wednesday he and his brother were "shocked by the comments of Richard Shapiro and Rick Arthur" at the California Horse Racing Board's medication committee meeting on Tuesday regarding the state's evolving steroid policy.

John Sadler, the meet's leading trainer who is employed by the Barbers, had his barn raided Monday. At Tuesday's meeting, Arthur, the board's equine medical director, said "two trainers have been responsible for 70 percent of the violations for anabolic steroids." Shapiro, the board's chairman, fueled speculation that the raid of Sadler's barn was related to steroids when he followed Arthur's comment by saying, "Just look at the top of the trainers' and owners' list," while waving a sheet of paper.

The Barber brothers, in a prepared statement, said, "to the best of our knowledge" they "have complied with all rules and regulations."

"As Messrs. Shapiro and Arthur admit in their comments, the recently enacted ban on anabolic steroid use will go into effect on Sept. 4, 2008," the Barbers said. "We support and approve this ban. Apparently based on their new regret that they did not make the effective date earlier [as evidenced by Arthur's comments "if I had to do it over, I'd do it differently"], Messrs. Shapiro and Arthur are now attempting to impugn the reputations of us as horse owners whose trainers do not comply with the ban before September 4, 2008. Their actions are irresponsible and unprofessional.

"We contend Messrs. Shapiro and Arthur should not have conducted their business through the press and would have expected more professional behavior from these men. We will not tolerate any attempts to tarnish our impeccable reputations," the Barbers said.

Anabolic steroids are being phased out as a race-day medication in California. The ban goes into effect Sept. 4, at which time a violation is subject to loss of purse for the owner and suspension for the trainer. In July, trainers were simply notified by letter if they had a violation. In August, if a horse tests positive, the violation goes on a trainer's record and there is public notification, but no further penalty.

For a trainer to have the board file a charge against him, a split sample of a positive test must also come back positive. A split sample is generally done after a trainer's barn is raided.

Asked to comment Wednesday on the statement by the Barbers, Shapiro said, "I never mentioned anybody's name, and as for saying that we did this through the press, I made my comments at a publicly notced meeting that they were welcome to attend."