11/24/2006 12:00AM

Suspension to cost Lake shot at mark


Trainer Scott Lake began serving a 30-day suspension last week for a clenbuterol positive incurred by one of his horses at Delaware Park in June. The ban, which lasts through late December, will most likely cost Lake any chance of setting the record for most wins by a trainer in one year.

Lake leads all trainers with 528 wins. Steve Asmussen owns the record for wins in a year with 555, set in 2004. Asmussen is serving a six-month suspension for a mepivacaine positive incurred by one of his horses. That suspension ends on Jan. 10.

"Naturally, it's disappointing," Lake said. "You work all year long, we had a goal set, and we were so close to it."

It is unclear exactly when Lake can return to training. The ruling from the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission stated the suspension was to have started on Nov. 15. But Lake had already entered horses to run at Delaware Park - and other tracks - through last weekend.

The Delaware Park stewards, in consultation with their counsel, permitted Lake's horses to run through Nov. 19, closing day at that track. Lake had hoped to gain an injunction against the racing commission in Delaware Superior Court last Monday, but that attempt failed. At that point, Lake was considered suspended, according to an e-mail sent on Wednesday to the New York Racing Association stewards by John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.

The New York stewards were unaware a suspension had been handed down until the middle of Aqueduct's Wednesday card, after Lake had already run a horse in the fifth race. That horse, Clove Hitch, finished last.

Upon learning of the suspension, the stewards ordered another Lake horse on that card, Stay Inside, scratched out of the seventh race.

Lake said Friday that neither he nor his attorney, Richard Cross Jr., were ever notified by the Delaware Racing Commission about the suspension going into effect.

"It was handled very poorly," said Lake, who is also in the process of appealing a 30-day clenbuterol suspension in New York.

Officials for the Delaware Racing Commission were unavailable for comment Friday.