12/01/2014 4:36PM

Trainer De La Torre suspended for 38 months

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Quarter Horse trainer Jose De La Torre, who trained the Quarter Horses of the Year in 2012 and 2013, was suspended 38 months and fined $160,000 by the California Horse Racing Board last month for a series of clenbuterol positives over the last six years, the board announced Monday.

The decision was reached by the racing board in a closed session after its monthly public meeting at Del Mar on Nov. 19. The penalty is perhaps the most severe issued by the racing board in its history and was much greater than the two-year suspension and $100,000 fine recommended by a hearing officer earlier this year.

The decision was published by Los Alamitos stewards on Friday and prevents De La Torre from being licensed in any capacity during the term of suspension.

De La Torre, who trained World Champion Running Quarter Horses One Dashing Eagle in 2012 and Last to Fire in 2013, had six positives for clenbuterol at Los Alamitos in 2008 and 2009, resulting in a 60-day suspension and $25,000 in fines. He had an additional four positives in September, October, and November of 2013. As a result, he was told by track officials to vacate his stalls at the end of the 2013 season. In a statement released Monday, the racing board said De La Torre had 13 clenbuterol positives in the state within the last six years.

In December 2013, De La Torre won the Champion of Champions with Last to Fire and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity with Foose Cash Sr on consecutive nights, two weeks before his horses were shipped out of the track.

De La Torre did not immediately return a phone call Monday seeking comment.

In a statement, racing board chairman Chuck Winner said the penalty makes it “very clear that abuse of medication in racehorses in California won’t be tolerated. We will protect not only the health of the horse but the integrity of the sport for all participants. As I have said, play by the rules or suffer strong consequences.”

While De La Torre has been banned, his presence has been felt at Los Alamitos in recent weeks. Seven of his former runners were among the 10 qualifiers for the $972,100 Los Alamitos Super Derby on Nov. 22, all now trained by Eloy Navarro. Three of those runners swept the first three positions, including race winner Foose Cash Sr, who is co-owned by Gustavo De La Torre, Jose’s brother.