02/09/2006 1:00AM

Tampa extends Rice ban 6 months


Don Rice, a six-time leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs, has been suspended and denied access to the grounds for an additional six months by Tampa's management after a third horse he trains tested positive for excessive alkalizing agents.

Earlier this week, Rice was suspended for 30 days by Tampa when two of his horses tested positive for alkalizing agents, which are thought to help horses stave off fatigue. Tampa officials had said a third postrace sample was pending.

Tampa Bay began testing for alkalizing agents in January.

According to Tampa Bay, the three horses that tested positive were Twisted Cord, fourth in the eighth race on Jan. 27; Honest Chance, third in the ninth race on Jan. 29; and Headline, second in the fifth race on Jan. 31. Since penalties for alkalizing agents are being enforced as a house rule, Tampa cannot disqualify the horses or redistribute purse money.

Rice has won six races from 72 starts this year. In an interview this week, Rice denied administering alkalizing agents, but said he would not appeal the suspension.