02/28/2015 4:59PM

Rodriguez gets 25 days for Banamine positives

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rudy Rodriguez with Vyjack, his top 3-year-old from 2013.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Trainer Rudy Rodriguez will serve a 25-day suspension and pay a $2,500 fine as a result of two horses having overages for flunixin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory also known as Banamine and used for therapeutic use.

The suspension, issued by the New York Gaming Commission, begins Monday and runs through March 26, which covers 13 racing days at Aqueduct. Beginning with the entries of Thursday, Gustavo Rodriguez, Rudy’s brother and assistant, will be the trainer of record for horses from that barn that race.

On March 13, 2013, the Gaming Commission suspended Rodriguez for 40 days and fined him $7,500 for two flunixin positives incurred in April and November of 2012. The Commission stayed 20 of those days provided Rodriguez did not get a further equine drug positive in the state of New York from April 4, 2013 through April 4, 2014.

Those 20 days were again stayed provided Rodriguez does not have an additional equine positive for a nine-month period beginning March 27.

The current suspension is based on flunixin overages for the horse Majestic Marquet, who won the first race at Aqueduct on March 10, 2013, and Vee’s Accolade, who finished second in the sixth race at Belmont Park on April 26, 2013. Those horses were disqualified from the order of finish and ordered unplaced and purse money is to be redistributed.

Last October, the Gaming Commission called for a show-cause hearing for Rodriguez regarding those two overages, but the hearing was twice postponed and eventually never held. The stewards held a hearing on Feb. 5 on the two most recent positives, but it was the Gaming Commission -- and not the stewards -- who meted out the penalty.

Karen Murphy, the attorney who represented Rodriguez, said the 25-day penalty was ‘’excessive” given the fact the Commission suspended another trainer, David Cannizzo, for 45 days (reduced from 75 for waiving his right of appeal) for three of his horses testing positive for the illegal narcotic Darvon.

Murphy said she accepted the penalty for Rodriguez because she claims she was told “if Rudy is going to fight it, he was going to be hammered. That’s not the world I want to live in, but this is the world we are living in.”

Rodriguez, a former jockey, began his training career in February 2010 and had instant success,  finishing in the top five among all trainers in wins on the New York Racing Association circuit in each of the last five years.

In 2014, Rodriguez won 132 races, including four Grade 1 stakes with the quartet of Belle Gallantey (two), Condo Commando, and Dads Caps. Condo Commando is among the leading candidates for this year’s Kentucky Oaks.

In 2013, Rodriguez, a former exercise rider for the now-banned trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., ran Vyjack in the Kentucky Derby and had to appear before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission before being granted a license.