11/01/2011 1:57PM

Trainer's ban upheld in case that echoes Dutrow's


A New York Supreme Court judge has upheld a five-year ban of a harness trainer issued by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, in a ruling that uses language that may be applied to a similar case involving the Thoroughbred trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

The three-member court voted unanimously to uphold the ban of Carmine Rusco, who was first suspended by the board for 18 months in 2006 after one of his Standardbred horses tested positive for clenbuterol, a bronchial dilator that aids in building muscle mass when used frequently. The ban was extended to five years after an examination of Rusco’s veterinary records revealed that the horse had received banned treatments before five races.

In extending the ban, the board had also cited eight other medication violations in states where Fusco had raced between 1999 and 2007. Fusco appealed the length of the ban, citing the severity of the penalty.

Justice John A. Lahtinen, writing for the court, called the board’s penalty “severe,” but he added that Fusco’s prior penalties provided justification to the board.

Fusco, wrote Lahtinen, “has a history of horse drugging violations – including eight prior violations – and, under such circumstances, the penalty is ‘not so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one’s sense of fairness,’ ” Lahtinen wrote, citing a common judicial standard used in cases in which a state regulatory agency imposes a penalty.

Two weeks ago, the state racing board issued a 10-year ban to Dutrow, citing a long history of infractions, including a recent medication positive for a powerful painkiller, and the possession of hypodermic needles in his barn. Dutrow has appealed the penalty and has received a 30-day stay of the ban.