12/08/2017 4:36PM

Penn National trainer Rodriguez suspended 45 days for horse neglect


Mario Rodriguez, a trainer based at Penn National in Pennsylvania, has been suspended 45 days by the track’s stewards for being “neglectful” in providing veterinary care to a horse, according to a ruling from the officials.

Under the terms of the suspension, which will run from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, Rodriguez also faces having his license revoked if he commits any other “similar offenses.”

The penalty was issued after an incident Sept. 24 involving a 6-year-old gelding whom Rodriguez owned and trained, Silent Ruler. The incident was documented by a racetrack veterinarian, Kathryn Papp, who also runs a rehabilitation farm for horses, Pennsylvania Racehorse Rehoming, Rehabilitation, and Rescue.

In a report prepared for the commission, Papp said she assisted a woman in finding Silent Ruler after the woman arrived on the backstretch and inquired about his whereabouts, saying that she was there to inspect the horse for adoption. When Papp and the woman arrived at the horse’s stall, “it was evident instantly that the horse was in significant pain and distress” due to an injury to his right front ankle, Papp said.

As a result, Papp requested that the state vet based at Penn National also inspect the horse, and the vet allowed Papp to take radiographs of the injured ankle, which revealed fractured sesamoids.

In the report, Papp said that Rodriguez claimed that he had been icing the horse’s leg and administering phenylbutazone to the horse for one month after the horse was injured during a race Aug. 26.

Attempts to reach Rodriguez were unsuccessful. Rodriguez has five wins from 209 starts this year, with earnings of $146,982.

Following the incident, Papp took over ownership of Silent Ruler. The horse has had his ankle surgically repaired, and the woman who wanted to adopt the horse, Andrea Webber, will take possession of him, Papp said in an interview.

“He’s doing pretty well with his daily walking, but we’ve been extremely cautious with him,” Papp said.