03/27/2013 11:57AM

Tampa Bay Downs: Ness fined for carbon dioxide overage, must pay for monitoring

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Jamie Ness, the leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs for the past six years, has been fined $2,000 by the Tampa Bay stewards after one of his horses tested positive for an excess amount of total carbon dioxide, the trainer confirmed on Wednesday.

As part of the penalty for the positive, horses trained by Ness will be required to be monitored by a security guard for 24 hours before running, with Ness footing the bill. The requirement is part of a house rule governing testing for total carbon dioxide at the track.

Ness said he did not know why the horse, Awesome Mich, tested positive for the excess level. The test was performed on a blood sample drawn from the horse just before he finished fifth in a $12,500 claiming race on March 17.

"He's on the same feed, the same program as every other horse in my barn," Ness said, adding that he was at Laurel Park in Maryland on the day the horse tested positive.

Although Ness has been fined a dozen times over the past eight years in multiple racing jurisdictions for overages of therapeutic medications, none of his horses had tested positive for an excess level of total carbon dioxide. Testing for total carbon dioxide is performed in order to detect carbohydrate loading, though some horses have been found to have a higher natural level of total carbon dioxide than other horses.

Ness said that Awesome Mich tested at a 38.0 millimoles per liter of blood plasma. The limit at Tampa Bay Downs is 37.0 millimoles. He said that he planned to pay for tests himself to determine whether the horse has a naturally occurring high level of total carbon dioxide before entering the horse again.

Under Tampa Bay's house rules, two horses from each race are tested for total carbon dioxide. Ness, whose barn has been searched four times at the current meet, said that the rules state that the horses are selected at random, "but my horses seem to get tested a lot."

Tampa Bay officials did not immediately respond to phone calls on Wednesday.

In addition to his six straight training titles, Ness was second in the national trainer's standings by wins last year. One of his main clients is Midwest Thoroughbreds, the leading owner by wins from 2010-2012.