12/08/2014 1:23PM

Three New York trainers have carbon dioxide cases dismissed

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Cases against three trainers whose horses had tested for higher-than-permissible levels of total carbon dioxide following races at New York tracks have been dismissed by the New York State Gaming Commission.

Trainers Tony Dutrow, Peter Kazamias, and Neal Terracciano will not face penalties for having horses test for high levels of carbon dioxide. A high level of carbon dioxide is sometimes the result of the practice of “milkshaking” – administering sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) by a nasal tube before a race, which is thought to boost performance. High carbon dioxide levels also can be produced naturally.

Dutrow’s case goes back five years and involves the filly Mambo Fever, who finished second in the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 7, 2009.

The case involving Terracciano goes back to May 16, 2010, when the filly Martha’s Mandate finished last in a $10,000 claiming race at Belmont Park.

The case involving Kazamias dates back to Feb. 13, 2011, when Calvello finished last of five in the $60,000 Always Run Lucky Stakes at Aqueduct.

In each case, tests showed the horses had a pre-race carbon dioxide level above the threshold level of 39 millimoles per liter of plasma.
Kazamias and Terracciano were both initially suspended for 60 days and fined $1,000 by the New York stewards.

Dutrow was never assessed a penalty. His case was sent directly to New York’s regulatory body, known then as the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. On Feb. 1, 2013, that board was dissolved, and a new entity, the New York State Gaming Commission, was formed.

In July, the gaming commission reached a settlement with Terracciano, who was running Martha’s Mandate for an unlicensed participant, Jerry Palumbo, and had never had contact with the filly prior to her race, the commission determined. Terracciano had his 60-day suspension reduced to 30 days, time he will only serve if he commits a violation over the next two years.

Terracciano took a two-year sabbatical from training, returning in August at Saratoga.

On Sept. 5, the gaming commission, through attorney Rick Goodell, informed both Kazamias and Dutrow that it “will dismiss the track-level rulings and discontinue the hearing process” in their cases.

Asked last week why the gaming commission would do that, spokesman Lee Park said, “Agency staff chose to focus priorities on prosecuting current cases and chose not to relitigate 5-year-old and 3-year-old alleged violations.”

Karen Murphy, the attorney who represented both Dutrow and Kazamias, said certain aspects of the investigation – including not being able to allow for split blood samples for testing – were mishandled, and the charges were ultimately dropped.

“Dismissing these cases was the right thing to do,” Murphy said. “A leader of the gaming commission made that call, and the fairness of that judgment should be recognized.”