05/10/2013 3:01PM

Rudy Rodriguez has another positive for flunixin


ELMONT, N.Y. – New York state regulators have notified trainer Rudy Rodriguez that he has had a fourth horse of his test positive for the drug flunixin, Rodriguez said Friday.

Belle of the West, a 3-year-old filly who finished fourth in the first race at Aqueduct on April 21, was found to have flunixin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory also known as Banamine, in her system at a level higher than allowed by rule.

The steward for the New York State Gaming Commission said the matter is still under investigation and that no ruling or penalty has been handed down.

Rodriguez, among the leading trainers on the New York Racing Association circuit, trains the 3-year-old Vyjack, who finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby and is under consideration to run in the Preakness. Rodriguez, who received a conditional license to run in Kentucky, is already licensed in Maryland.

If confirmed, this would be the fourth horse of Rodriguez’s to test positive for flunixin in the last 15 months. From March 16 through April 4, Rodriguez served a 20-day suspension and paid a $7,500 fine for the finding of flunixin, a medication akin to Aleve, in the post-race samples taken from Heiden, who won the last race at Aqueduct on April 7, 2012, and Alston Gunter, who finished third in the first race at Aqueduct on Nov. 21.

That suspension was originally 40 days, but the state stayed half of those days provided Rodriguez did not have another violation over the next year.

While serving that suspension, it was revealed that a third Rodriguez horse, Majestic Marquet, who won a $51,000 starter/optional-claiming race at Aqueduct on March 10, had an extremely high level of flunixin in his system, leading Rodriguez to believe that someone purposely treated his horse with the drug. Rodriguez’s owners put up $50,000 in reward money for information about that positive.

Rodriguez ran six horses on the April 21 card at Aqueduct and said all six were treated with flunixin. That includes Im a Rockstar Diva, who ran in the same race as Belle of the West. According to Rodriguez, none of the other five horses tested positive.

Rodriguez said he wants the state – at his expense – to test all the horses that ran at Aqueduct in the month of April to make sure that he is not being singled out.

“If I have to sell my house, I’ll sell my house,” Rodriguez said, referring to how to pay for all those tests. “I want to test everybody.”

Rodriguez said his horses are treated with flunixin in the permissible time out from a race recommended by veterinarians, which is a minimum 24 hours.

“I’m trying to play by the rules, the doctors are telling me it’s not supposed to come up” positive, Rodriguez said.