12/05/2008 12:00AM

Wait a While has Breeders' Cup positive test


Wait a While, the 5-year-old champion mare trained by Todd Pletcher, tested positive for an illegal amount of the local anesthetic procaine after her third-place finish in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 24, according to the California Horse Racing Board.

Under California regulations, procaine is a Class 3 drug. The minimum penalty for a Classo3 drug is a 30-day suspension "absent mitigating factors." The penalty also includes disqualification of the horse and loss of purse.

This is the first positive test in a Breeders' Cup race since Lashkari in the 1985 BC Turf. Lashkari's positive was later rescinded. The Breeders' Cup has been held every year since 1984.

California stewards, who are currently working at Hollywood Park, have scheduled a hearing for Dec. 14 to determine whether Wait a While - who has been retired - will be disqualified from her third-place finish in the Filly and Mare Turf. Her purse earnings in the race were $213,000. It is standard in California to hold a hearing prior to disqualifying a horse.

No hearing has yet been scheduled for Pletcher, according to the CHRB.

Procaine is commonly used in conjunction with the injection of other medications, especially the intramuscular administration of penicillin, an antibiotic. It is one of the most commonly found substances in postrace drug tests, although very few chemists and racing officials consider the discovery of the drug to be indicative of an attempt to improve a horse's performance unless administered in large quantities.

In a statement, Pletcher said he treated Wait a While with penicillin on Oct. 6, 18 days before the Breeders' Cup, because of a fever that spiked just after her win in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 27. He said that he was told that the drug would properly withdraw from the mare's system by race day.

"We look forward to our hearing with the CHRB so that we can present them with the facts," Pletcher said.

Breeders' Cup officials declined to comment beyond a statement released by Pam Blatz-Murff, the organization's senior vice president of racing.

"The Breeders' Cup supports the actions of the CHRB, which has jurisdiction over our event this year and the next," the statement said. The 2009 Breeders' Cup will also be held at Santa Anita.

The CHRB administrative order stated that the postrace sample from Wait a While tested positive for an "excess level" of procaine. Procaine is one of a number of drugs in California that are allowed to appear up to certain levels in postrace tests.

Wait a While, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2006, is owned by Arindel Farm of Alan Cohen. She won 11 stakes in her career, including the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon twice, and retired with earnings of more than $2 million.

Pletcher, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, has won the Eclipse Award for top trainer four consecutive years. He has trained eight champions, including two-time champion Ashado.

Late in 2006, Pletcher began serving a 45-day suspension for the finding of the painkiller mepivacaine in a horse he trained. The horse, Tales of Glory, tested positive for 1.6 nanograms of mepivacaine after a race at Saratoga in August 2004, but Pletcher did not begin serving the suspension until he had exhausted his appeals at the state level.