Moo-ving like a winner: Cattle steroid charge in NorCal
The California Horse Racing Board has filed a complaint against trainer Genaro Vallejo after a post-race sample from the horse Red Dwarf tested positive for the prohibited Class 1 drug zilpaterol following a victory in a $12,500 maiden claiming race at Golden Gate Fields April 12.
Zilpaterol is a Beta-2 agonist drug used as a feed additive to stimulate growth in slaughter-aged cattle. According to Merck Animal Health, which manufactures Zilmax, a cattle product that contains zilpaterol hydrochloride, it should not be given to horses. A peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science in 2008 said zilpaterol can have prolonged adverse effects in horses but still was considered a risk for use in performance horses because of its anabolic properties.
In its Uniform Classification Guidelines, the Association of Racing Commissioners International describes Class 1 substances as “Stimulant and depressant drugs that have the highest potential to affect performance and that have no generally accepted medical use in the racing horse.”
Suggested RCI penalties for a first Class 1 offense is a minimum one-year suspension for the trainer and a $10,000 fine or 10% of the total purse, whichever is higher.
Vallejo has three mediation violations since 2006, all of them for overages of the Class 4 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone.
Last year, the CHRB reported six positives for zilpaterol in Quarter horses trained by Adan Farias, formerly a leading trainer at Los Alamitos. Farias failed to appear at a hearing scheduled by the CHRB and reportedly disbanded his public stable after being ejected from Los Alamitos by track owner Edward Allred.
Earlier this year, two trainers in Indiana, were sanctioned after horses tested positive for zilpaterol in out-of-competition testing. Jesus Gonzales received a three-year ban and James Garrison was suspended for 18 months in negotiated settlements with the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. In Iowa, trainer Ricardo H. Olivo was suspended six months for a 2011 zilpaterol positive, and at the Gila County Fair in Arizona, trainer Cleto Martinez received a 60-day suspension when a horse he trained tested positive for the drug in 2010.
Red Dwarf is a 5-year-old California-bred son of Atticus who at the time of the positive test was owned by the Battle Born Racing Stable managed by former trainer and current TVG analyst Nick Hines.
“When they shook down his barn, they didn't find any of that stuff,” Hines said of the CHRB's search of Vallejo's barn. “He's going to have to send in samples of his feed for testing. Hopefully the stewards will look at it from the standpoint that he is not a cheating type. I wouldn't associate myself with a cheater.
“We don't have an explanation,” Hines added. “It's very frustrating. I understand the sport, and there needs to be a protocol that's met. But he has a right to a fair hearing. I worry that they're going to use certain individuals as examples for the other guys out there.”
After the race in question on April 12, Red Dwarf subsequently finished fourth in a $6,250 Golden Gate claiming race on May 3, then was claimed by trainer William Morey and owner Leon Scott for $4,000 while winning at Golden Gate May 29. When Red Dwarf ran back for his new connections on June 24, finishing second in a $5,000 claiming race at Pleasanton, he was claimed back by Battle Born Racing Stable and Vallejo.
The complaint against Vallejo alleges violation of CHRB Rules 1843 (a) (d) pursuant to Rule 1887. The Maddy Laboratory at UC Davis reported the positive test for zilpaterol and a split sample sent to the Pennsylvania Research and Toxicology Laboracy confirmed the presence of the drug.
A hearing has been scheduled by CHRB stewards on July 13 at Cal Expo (State Fair).