05/27/2010 12:00AM

Test discrepancy frustrates owner


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Maggi Moss expressed her anger and frustration Thursday with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission because one of her horses, Trinity Run, has been

ordered scratched by the stewards on three recent occasions at Churchill Downs because of an incident involving a medication test on another horse.

Trinity Run was scratched from a maiden race May 16, an allowance race May 21, and a starter-allowance race Thursday. Confusion has stemmed from Trinity Run's eligibility conditions. The 3-year-old colt was claimed for $40,000 by Moss from his last start, an April 29 maiden-claiming race at Churchill, in which Trinity Run finished second to Guarded Entrance. A positive from the initial split urine sample for glycopyrrolate, a commonly used bronchodilator sold under the trade name Robinul, was reported for Guarded Entrance by the testing laboratory at the University of Florida, but a second split sample tested by Louisiana State University eventually was reported to be under the allowable threshold level, with the end result being Guarded Entrance restored as the race winner.

Partly at issue is whether the positive was called in premature fashion by the stewards. Standard protocol is to wait for confirmation of a positive from the second split to determine whether legal proceedings, starting with a stewards' hearing, should ensue in case a disqualification is warranted.

However, chief steward John Veitch said Thursday that stewards are informed only about whether a banned medication is present in a sample and that "we are not privy to what threshold levels are permissible." He said Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the commission, had been on vacation during the course of events involving the incident, and upon her return Monday, she informed Veitch that the LSU split had been below the acceptable threshold, therefore requiring the original race result to stand.

"There was a minute difference in the split samples, enough to make a difference in what constitutes a positive test," Veitch said.

Guarded Entrance, who is entered in a first-level optional claiming race at Churchill on Saturday, actually was ordered disqualified last Friday before the order was rescinded Monday.

Moss, a retired attorney who lives in Iowa and is one of the most active owners in American racing, alleges she has lost potential income and said she will sue through her attorney, Karen Murphy, if the situation is not resolved to her satisfaction. She said she had numerous lengthy phone conversations with legal representatives of the commission and Veitch this week and requested $2,200 for a month's worth of training bills but was rebuffed. She said Veitch was apologetic but ultimately informed her that the matter is closed.

"The state of Kentucky cannot reimburse her," Veitch said. "We spent a considerable amount of time on this, and that's basically how it stands."

Moss said her possible suit is a "matter of principle more than the money" and that horse owners in general are disgusted with how such delicate matters are handled.

"I get two or three calls a week from owners who say they're ready to sell their horses and get out of the game because of things like this," she said.

Surface specialist to test track after sinkhole

Mick Peterson, the acclaimed track-surface specialist from the University of Maine, was scheduled to be here Friday to conduct ground-penetrating sonar tests on the Churchill main track after a sinkhole was discovered and

repaired during training hours Wednesday.

The sinkhole was nearly a foot in diameter and about 2 feet deep, and it interrupted training for more than 1 1/2 hours. Churchill track superintendent Butch Lehr called the incident "a freak thing" and said he has never seen anything like it during his 43-year tenure at the track. No injuries occurred.

Peterson is the executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, supported by the racing industry, and has conducted extensive research on surfaces throughout North America.