07/01/2005 11:00PM

Pletcher fined, suspended

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Todd Pletcher, the Eclipse Award-winning trainer of 2004, has been suspended 45 days and fined $3,000 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board steward for the finding of a banned substance in a horse who won a race last summer at Saratoga.

Pletcher appealed the suspension and will be allowed to train until the appeal is heard, likely later this year.

"My attorneys advised me not to comment on it," Pletcher said Saturday, "So I won't comment until the appeal is official."

Carmine Donofrio, the racing and wagering board steward who signed the ruling after consulting with fellow stewards Dave Hicks and Ted Hill, also declined comment.

Pletcher, 38, received the penalty for the finding of the drug mepivacaine, an anesthetic, in the system of Tales of Glory, who won the third race at Saratoga last Aug. 14. Tales of Glory was ruled unplaced in the order of finish.

Mepivacaine, which is used as a nerve-block, is classified by the Association of Racing Comm-issioners International as a Class 2 drug, meaning it has "a high potential to affect performance."

The penalties handed to Pletcher are the same given to Richard Dutrow Jr. for a mepivacaine positive incurred by Farmer Jake in a race at Aqueduct on April 27, 2003.

Pletcher won 35 races at Saratoga last summer, the same total he won in 2003. He won his first Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding trainer in 2004, winning two Breeders' Cup races and leading all trainers in purse money won with $17,511,923. Through Thursday, Pletcher led trainers in purse money won with $7.6 million, and had 111 winners from 434 starters, fifth-best in the country.