08/27/2012 5:59PM

Penn National: Court orders that hearing must be held over ban of trainer

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A U.S. district court judge has granted a preliminary injunction to a Pennsylvania trainer that will prevent Penn National Race Course from enforcing an ejection order, according to court filings.

Judge Sylvia Rambo of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted the injunction in an Aug. 22 order after ruling that officials for Penn National violated the due-process rights of the trainer, Tito Moreno. Rambo’s ruling said that Penn National relied on “significant state involvement in both the discovery of the alleged violations” committed by Moreno, and “the enforcement of the sanctions issued by” Penn National when ordering Moreno’s ejection in early August.

As a result, Rambo wrote, “the court finds that the sanctions must be considered a disciplinary action of the state,” which would require Penn National to grant Moreno a hearing before issuing any sanctions.

On Aug. 3, Penn National officials said in an e-mail to Moreno’s attorney that they would no longer accept any entries from Moreno and that he would have to move all of his horses from the grounds as of noon on Aug. 13. A day earlier, investigators for the state said that they had found syringes allegedly loaded with vitamin B2 in Moreno’s pockets shortly after exiting the stall of a horse at Penn National. It is illegal in Pennsylvania for a trainer to possess injection equipment.

As a result of Rambo’s ruling, Moreno will be allowed to enter horses at Penn National until a hearing is held into the incident. The hypodermic needles were seized by the state and sent to a lab for testing.