11/12/2007 1:00AM

Sciacca barn starts ban

EmailPaul Barone, an assistant to trainer Gary Sciacca, began serving a 120-day suspension on Sunday for his role in an alleged attempt to have a horse consume a banned substance four years ago at Belmont Park. Sciacca, meanwhile, faces the same penalty, but has been given an unspecified amount of time to disperse his 16-horse stable to other trainers, stewards said Sunday.

The penalties stem from an incident at Belmont on June 28, 2003, when a New York Racing Association investigator allegedly witnessed veterinarian Dr. John McGuire, Barone, and Sciacca employee Oscar DeLeon giving the horse Storm River Kelly a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and electrolytes - known as a milkshake - on the morning of the day he was scheduled to race.

Sciacca was not present at the time - he was en route to the Grand Cayman Islands on vacation - but is penalized under the trainer's responsibility rule.

At the time, Barone, McGuire, and DeLeon were arrested by Nassau County police and charged with tampering with a sports contest. Those charges were later dropped.

NYRA stewards initially recommended that Sciacca be suspended 45 days while the other three men get 60 days. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board increased the penalties to Barone and Sciacca to 120 days, while McGuire was given a 180-day penalty and a $1,000 fine.

In February 2006, DeLeon served a 45-day suspension. Since the incident, McGuire has suffered a stroke that has left him incapacitated.