05/20/2013 4:53PM

Pocahontas purse redistribution disputed at hearing

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LEXINGTON. Ky. – Attorneys for the owners and the trainer of a filly disqualified from last year’s Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs for a medication violation argued on Monday during an appeals hearing that the state had erred when ordering the purse of the race redistributed.

The case involves a filly owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, two prominent names in the racing world. Their filly Sign tested positive for an overage of methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant, after winning the $168,150 Pocahontas on Oct. 28 last year. She was subsequently disqualified from the race and her trainer, Al Stall, was fined $250 for the violation.

During the first day of the hearing, Stall testified that he had never administered methocarbamol to Sign at any point in her career. A subsequent split-sample test of the initial postrace sample, however, also tested positive for a trace level of the drug in excess of state regulations, and a DNA test performed on the horse and the sample proved that the blood sample came from the filly.

David Royse, the attorney for Stall and the filly’s owners, continually pressed witnesses called by commission lawyers as to whether state regulations required the stewards to order the winner’s share of the pure redistributed. The equine medical director for the commission and chief state steward contended that a change in state rules put in effect in August required purse forfeiture for a methocarbamol violation.

At the time the Monday hearing was adjourned, however, Royse had yet to call any of his witnesses as part of his case. The hearing was to reconvene on Tuesday morning.

Methocarbamol is a commonly used muscle relaxant that is prohibited from being administered within 48 hours of a race in Kentucky. Stall said that he uses it frequently on horses in his barn while training, but that he is careful to withdraw the drug before published guidelines.

Nevertheless, another horse trained by Stall tested positive for methocarbamol after running in a race at Churchill Downs 10 days after Sign won the Pocahontas. The positive test was treated as a second violation for Stall within a year, and he was given a 10-day suspension along with a $500 fine. That horse was also disqualified.