09/15/2002 11:00PM

Winfree: Tenpins unfairly scratched from Ky. Cup


FLORENCE, Ky. - Tenpins was scratched Saturday from the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park because he was treated with an oral spray within four hours of the race - a violation of state rules. The scratch prompted the colt's trainer, Don Winfree, to say he felt unfairly singled out because many trainers in Kentucky administer the same product within four hours of racetime.

Winfree said Monday that he had his groom spray a substance called Air Power into the colt's mouth, after which, according to Winfree, a security guard called the stewards, who subsequently ordered Tenpins scratched about 30 minutes before the Classic.

Air Power is made of cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and eucalyptus, none of which are a banned substance.

Steward Butch Becraft on Saturday said that because Tenpins was treated with the spray less than four hours before the race, the colt was ordered scratched by the stewards for having violated the state's four-hour rule.

Winfree, a trainer for 31 years, said that a majority of trainers routinely use a substance intended to help clear a horse's air passage. Another such commonly used product is called Wind Aid.

"I'd bet you $1,000 to a doughnut that he wasn't the only horse in the Classic to receive something like 'Windy' before the race," said Winfree. "Am I outraged? Sure I'm outraged."

Marty Maline executive director of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said Monday the organization would immediately seek to clarify how such substances can be used.

"Because 80 to 90 percent of trainers use this, we're going to appeal to the stewards and commission that common sense come into play on this issue," said Maline. "You're talking about something that has been in use a long time and contains nothing illegal."

Winfree said: "I guarantee that if you look in everybody's shipping boxes on any given night at Turfway, 75 percent of them would have 'Windy' in them. The stuff sure isn't being used after the races, and it's not being used five hours out, either.

"The other night, I was talking to the security guard right when we were using the stuff. Saturday, one of the local security that they had there just because it was a big day observed my groom using it, and he calls the stewards.

"I don't understand why all of a sudden there's a random enforcement, not to mention before a $400,000 race. The state vet [Lee Godman] even told the stewards there wasn't anything illegal in it. That's why everybody uses it in the first place, because they know there's no danger of a positive test."

Winfree said he is further angered by the fact Tenpins was stabled in the receiving barn, where more security personnel are stationed, and that horses in private barns are not subject to the same kind of scrutiny.

"It's not right if that's the only place they're going to selectively enforce something," he said. "The whole thing is ridiculous. Everybody in the world uses the stuff. I've been doing the same thing for 30 years, and all of a sudden this pops up."

One other horse, Artic Express, was scratched Saturday for the same reason as Tenpins. Artic Express, trained by Marcos Medrano, was scratched from the fifth race, a starter allowance.

Bernie Hettel, executive director of the Kentucky Racing Commission, said Monday he planned to discuss the issue with the three stewards who were on duty Saturday - Becraft, Jack Middleton, and Ron Herbstreit - before commenting or issuing a ruling.

Meanwhile, Tenpins, who figured to be one of the favorites in the Classic, probably will run next in the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington or the Meadowlands Cup. Tenpins, owned by Joe Vitello, has not raced since finishing third in the June 15 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, where Winfree is based.