The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has officially disqualified Sign from her first-place finish in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes last November at Churchill Downs, after the filly tested positive for methocarbamol. The Class C drug is commonly used in muscle relaxants.
Sign, a daughter of Pulpit, races as a homebred for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, and is trained by Al Stall Jr. The disqualification elevates Gal About Town to the victory. The purse for the race will be redistributed accordingly. Stall was also fined $250.
Sign, who broke her maiden by 11 3/4 lengths at Saratoga last August, is currently on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a hind ankle. She is expected to return to action later in the summer.
David Royse, an attorney representing Claiborne Farm, issued the following statement in the wake of the ruling:
“Mr. Stall and the owners of SIGN respectfully but strongly disagree with the Stewards' Ruling. They plan to seek review at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as permitted by the Regulations.
“SIGN tested positive for a trace amount of Methocarbamol, a Class C medication. The evidence before the Stewards, in the form of sworn testimony by the trainer and the veterinarian, was that SIGN had never been administered this medication in training or her pre-race regimen. This was likewise reflected in the veterinary records voluntarily produced to the Stewards.
“As recognized by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Uniform Classification Guidelines, Methocarbamol (Robaxin) is an approved therapeutic medication for horses with a limited potential for impacting performance. The scientific evidence before the Stewards was that a trace amount of this medication (2.1 ng/ml) would have no impact whatsoever on the performance of the horse or the outcome of the race.
“The Stewards' decision to disqualify SIGN from a Grade 2 Stakes win and require her owners to forfeit the purse of $101,125 for a first offense Class C violation is a sharp departure from forty-three (43) Kentucky Stewards' rulings in the last three years in First Offense Class C violations where the only penalty was a $250 fine, and no purse forfeiture.
“Though not stated in the Ruling, the Stewards' decision appears to be premised on a misreading or misapplication of the Regulations as amended August 31, 2012, which clearly distinguish between penalties for Class A and B medication violations (which require disqualification of the horse and forfeiture of the purse) and the penalties for Class C medication violations (which do not mandate disqualification and forfeiture, and specifically require the Stewards to consider the seriousness of the particular Class C violation and any mitigating circumstances).”
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