09/21/2004 11:00PM

Sciacca gets 120-day penalty


Trainer Gary Sciacca, two of his employees, and a veterinarian lost their appeal of suspensions dating back to a milkshaking incident in the summer of 2003, and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Wednesday gave them stiffer penalties than what was initially recommended.

Sciacca, 44, and his longtime assistant, Paul Barone, were each given 120-day suspensions, while barn foreman Oscar DeLeon was slapped with a 45-day suspension. Dr. John McGuire was suspended 180 days and fined $1,000.

Originally, state steward Carmine Donofrio recommended that Sciacca be suspended for 45 days while Barone, DeLeon, and McGuire each get 60 days. Stacy Clifford, a spokesperson for the board, said the board "has discretion to set what penalties it feels appropriate. They felt this was a very blatant violation of the rules."

The penalties stem from an incident at Belmont on June 28, 2003, when a New York Racing Association investigator allegedly witnessed McGuire, Barone, and DeLeon giving the horse Storm River Kelly a milkshake, on the morning of the day he was to race. According to Sciacca, who was on vacation at the time of the incident, McGuire was supposed to treat Shagwong, the horse stabled adjacent to Storm River Kelly, who had raced the previous day.

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 when the district attorney noticed inconsistencies with the testimony of a NYRA investigator.

Clifford said that under the board's rules, McGuire has "explicit responsibility to take reasonable steps to identify the horse he treats prior to treatment."

Despite not being present at the time of the incident, Sciacca was suspended under the trainer's responsibility rule.

Sciacca, who trained 1992 champion 3-year-old filly Saratoga Dew, did not return phone messages seeking comment.