04/19/2010 11:00PM

Penn National bans Gill trainer


Stewards at Penn National Race Course have issued two suspensions totaling 90 days to trainer Anthony Adamo for the illegal possession of hypodermic needles and the "intent to administer an unnatural and unauthorized substance" to a horse owned by Michael Gill.

The suspensions were based on the discovery of the equipment and substance on Oct. 22, according to the rulings, which were provided by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission. The rulings stated that Adamo was in possession of four "hypodermic needles or syringes" and that the horse in question was Lion's Pride, who was scheduled to run that night but was scratched.

Gill, whose horses were boycotted by Penn National jockeys in January, said the syringes and some baking soda were found on a van used to ship Lion's Pride into Penn National that night. He said that one of the syringes was filled with the diuretic Lasix, which is legal to administer on race day, but that the syringe was left on the van for use with horses training at nearby Fair Hill. In addition, he said the baking soda was supposed to be mixed into Lion's Pride water tub following the race, as a way to prevent cramping during a three-hour van ride back to his farm.

Baking soda is an ingredient in a solution known as a "milkshake" which can be used to increase a horse's stamina. Penn National, like almost all other racetracks in the U.S., conducts pre-race testing to detect the administration of the solutions.

Justin Fleming, a spokesman for the racing commission, said that he couldn't provide specifics on the circumstances of the rulings.

The boycott by the Penn National jockeys, who cited safety concerns after several Gill horses broke down, led the track to bar Gill from the grounds. Gill, who won the 2005 Eclipse Award for leading owner and who was the leading owner at Penn National at the time of the boycott, has since dispersed all but two horses.