The “Ask Ray” button on the Paulick Report website brings a lot of questions my way, some of them easy to answer, others nearly impossible.
A recent question about a horse – whose disqualification from a win due to a drug positive was reversed by a racing commission without comment – falls into the latter category.
Here's what happened.
A horse named Shock Appeal, owned by Kazdan Racing Stables and trained by Alejandro Maymo, was DQed from a June 15 win at Penn National when test results came back positive for Naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory therapeutic medication that can be a potent pain reliever but also is slow to metabolize. A split sample from Louisiana State University confirmed the finding.
The stewards ruling disqualifying the horse from the victory was issued July 12, elevating the original second-place finisher, owner-trainer Heather O'Hern's Bunny Blizzard, to first place purse money and awarding several other horses increased earnings from the race. The decision also meant Bunny Blizzard had lost the “non-winners of two races” conditions that he had been running in.
The official chart of the June 15 race from Equibase, along with race records of Shock Appeal and Bunny Blizzard, reflected the disqualification.
A little more than a month later, however, the owners of Bunny Blizzard and the other horses moved up by the DQ were told to give the money back, that the commission had overruled the stewards. There was no explanation, just an edict.
One of those owners contacted the Paulick Report through an “Ask Ray” inquiry, asking me to explain how a horse with a drug positive could be disqualified and then reinstated without an appeal from the owner or trainer. On Aug. 20, I sent a note to Walt Remmert, acting executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, asking if it was true the commission had reversed the stewards' ruling.
I also asked Remmert (incidentally, he is the third “acting” executive secretary for the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission in just over three years, following Dan Tufano and Mike Dillon, who both resigned) if he could provide an explanation from the commission for the reversal.
It took over a week to get a response, but on Aug. 28 Remmert sent a copy of both the original July 12 ruling by the stewards disqualifying Shock Appeal and an Aug 15 ruling from the commission rescinding the decision.
There was no explanation given by Remmert on the reason for the reversal.
Sometimes the only explanation I can provide is: this is Pennsylvania.
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