12/03/2008 12:00AM

Panel hears cobra venom case

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A hearing officer for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is expected to issue a recommendation within the next 60 days on whether a five-year suspension handed down to veterinarian Dr. Rod Stewart late in 2007 should be amended, officials of the racing commission said on Wednesday after the first day of Stewart's appeal hearing.

Stewart was issued the suspension after investigators found vials of cobra venom inside a cooler in the barn of trainer Patrick Biancone at Keeneland in the summer of 2007. The suspension was also based on the discovery of improperly labeled medications, including a drug to treat Parkinson's disease in humans.

The closed-door hearing on Wednesday lasted all day, according to Jim Carroll, a spokesman for the commission, and included testimony from Stewart and racing commission personnel. Another hearing has been scheduled for this coming Tuesday because a witness was unable to appear at the Wednesday hearing.

Carroll said that the hearing officer, Bob Layton, is expected to issue a recommendation on the appeal to the racing commission in February. The full commission will vote on the recommendation at that time, Carroll said.

Attorneys for Stewart could not be reached on Wednesday.