07/03/2003 11:00PM

Three held for allegedly milkshaking a horse


ELMONT, N.Y. - Two employees of trainer Gary Sciacca and a Belmont Park-based veterinarian were arrested this week and charged with tampering with a sports contest, according to Nassau County police. The charge stems from an incident on June 28 when a New York Racing Association investigator allegedly witnessed the three men administering a milkshake to the horse Storm River Kelly, who was scheduled to run that day.

Paul Barone, a longtime assistant for Sciacca, and Dr. Jack McGuire were arrested on Friday morning at Belmont by Nassau County police. Oscar DeLeon, who works as a foreman for the Sciacca stable, was arrested and charged on Thursday, according to police.

All three were charged with the tampering with a sports contest, a misdemeanor, and are scheduled for arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead on July 17. All three were released after being charged.

A milkshake is a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and sugar and is administered via a tube through the nostrils. It opens up a horse's capillaries and helps guard against fatigue. It is against NYRA rules to administer such a mixture within 24 hours of a race.

Barone, who has worked for Sciacca for 14 years, was released from police custody in time to saddle two horses for Sciacca in Friday's first race. When questioned by a reporter, Barone said, "Nothing happened" and walked away.

Sciacca, speaking from the Cayman Islands, where he was on vacation with his family, said Barone told him the wrong horse was being treated, but was not being given a milkshake.

According to Sciacca, who did not witness the alleged incident, Barone instructed DeLeon to hold Shagwong, who is stabled next to Storm River Kelly, and who had finished fourth the day before. McGuire was to have given Shagwong a shot of Butazolidin as well as treat him with a product called Lifeguard, which, like a milkshake, is administered through a tube and through the nostrils.

Sciacca said Barone stopped the vet before he treated any of the horses. The stewards ordered Storm River Kelly to be scratched from the third race on June 28.

"Talking to Paul, I really, really feel it was an honest mistake," Sciacca said. "I wouldn't give a shake to any horse running ever. I'm all for NYRA and not using that."

Sciacca will not face criminal charges, according to police, but he could face disciplinary action from the Belmont stewards under the trainer responsibility rule. According to John Tierney, NYRA's director of security, NYRA will hold a hearing on Tuesday into this matter, but is not expected to take any against any of the parties while their court cases are pending.