03/29/2013 4:06PM

Rodriguez gets third flunixin positive


Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of undefeated Kentucky Derby hopeful Vyjack, is currently serving a 20-day suspension for two positive tests for Banamine and could face further penalties after a third horse of his tested positive for the same drug.

Majestic Marquet, who won a $51,000 starter/optional-claiming race at Aqueduct on March 10, tested positive for Banamine, according to Gustavo Rodriguez, Rudy’s brother and his assistant, who is overseeing the stable in his brother’s absence.

Officials from the New York State Gaming Commission wouldn’t comment on specifics of the positive. “It’s under investigation,” said Carmine Donofrio, the Gaming Commission steward at Aqueduct.

On March 16, Rodriguez began serving a 20-day suspension for the findings of Banamine, a brand of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory flunixin, which is akin to a medication like Aleve, in the post-race samples of two horses. They were Heiden, who won the last race on April 7, 2012, and Alston Gunter, who finished third in the first race Nov. 21. He also was fined $7,500.

Rodriguez was suspended 40 days for those positives but had half of the suspension stayed provided he did not have another positive for the next year. If this positive is confirmed, Rodriguez would most likely have to serve those 20 days plus whatever further penalty the state may assess.

Rodriguez is due to come off suspension April 4, two days before the Wood Memorial, which is expected to be Vyjack’s next start.

However, business acquaintances of Rodriguez believe the trainer was set up and are offering reward money for information that would help prove that assertion.

Michael Imperio, an owner who has horses with Rodriguez, said he was told by state investigators that the amount of Banamine found in Majestic Marquet “was 20 times the limit.” State officials would not confirm that fact.

Imperio said he is offering a $20,000 reward for information about the potential for foul play.

“Somebody set him up,” Imperio said.

Said Gustavo Rodriguez: “We’re very, very careful with what we do. Everything looks like we’ve been set up.”