12/14/2014 1:50PM

Trainer Cannizzo suspended 45 days

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Trainer David Cannizzo will begin 2015 by serving a 45-day suspension after three of his horses tested positive for the illegal substance Propoxyphene, a painkiller also known as Darvon.

Cannizzo was actually suspended for 75 days but had 30 days stayed provided he does not incur another equine drug positive before Feb. 14, 2016. Darvon is a class 3 drug, according to the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

Cannizzo was also fined a total of $6,000 by the New York State Gaming Commission, which posted the penalties on its website Sunday morning. The suspension runs from Jan. 1 through Feb. 14.

The horses who tested positive were Rachel’s Temper, who finished second in the 10th race on Aug. 3 at Saratoga; Bernie the Maestro, who won the first race Aug. 22 at Saratoga; and Ave’s Halo, who won the first race at Belmont Park on Sept. 24.

All three horses were disqualified from any share of the purse money and are now unplaced in the order of finish. Brier Creek Farm, which owns Bernie the Maestro, forfeited $40,200; ZRJ Stables, which owned Rachel’s Temper, forfeited $9,000; and Barry Ostrager, owner of Ave’s Halo, forfeited $28,200. 

Ostrager, a prominent New York breeder and member of the New York Racing Association’s Re-organization Board, has been outspoken about the negative perception racing has due to the use of illegal medication.

Cannizzo, who has 36 horses stabled this winter split between New York and Florida, said he believes the positives were the result of some type of contamination.

“It was a total contamination type of thing. We’re still trying to figure it out. Nothing we did,” Cannizzo said. “All three horses were [stabled] side by side at Saratoga.”

Cannizzo said he chose not to appeal because “I want to get it over with; too many big things coming up.”

Cannizzo said he was not sure who would be the trainer of record at Aqueduct and Belmont for the horses in his stable who run during his suspension.