AQHA Champion Trainer Kearl Among Trio Notified Of Alleged Class 1 Drug Violations

by | 07.21.2017 | 6:35pm
Judd Kearl, 2016 AQHA champion trainer, will not be eligible for reinstatement until July 30, 2036

Judd Kearl, the reigning American Quarter Horse Association champion trainer and 2016 leader in both money and races won in North America, was among three trainers notified on Friday by the Texas Racing Commission that horses in their care allegedly tested positive for the Class 1 drug Nomifensine.

Kearl was notified of five alleged Class 1 violations in horses racing for him at Sam Houston Race Park and Retama Park in Texas between May 22 and June 17, 2017. Jose Sanchez was notified of two alleged positives for the drug at Retama Park on June 10 and June 16, and Brian Stroud was notified of one alleged violation at Retama Park on June 17.

Drug testing is conducted for the Texas Racing Commission at the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M University. The drugs allegedly were detected in blood serum. According to sources, split samples tested in California and Pennsylvania confirmed the original findings.

Hearings have been scheduled for Sanchez and Stroud on Aug. 2. The five charges against Kearl are scheduled to be heard by the board of stewards on Aug. 3.

Stewards may impose up to a one-year suspension and $10,000 fine for the first violation, a three-year suspension and $25,000 fine for the second violation and up to a five-year suspension and $25,000 fine for each additional violation. The Texas Racing Commission executive director is authorized to enhance penalties, with fines up to $100,000 per violation and a maximum five-year suspension.

Horses also may be disqualified from their placings and purse money redistributed.

Nomifensine is a human anti-depressant drug developed in the 1960s and withdrawn from the market in the early 1990s due to adverse side effects in patients, including drowsiness and increased heart rate. Because it is no longer FDA approved, sources, said, the drug likely would have been compounded for use in the United States.

“I do not know what effects this norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor can have on a horse,” said Dr. Terence Wan, head of the racing laboratory for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Wan said the HKJC laboratory, considered among the best in the world, has been screening for Nomifensine in samples but to date has detected no positives.

Horses trained by Kearl won 129 races from 474 starts (27 percent) in 2016 for earnings of $4.6 million.

At Ruidoso Downs this weekend, Kearl has three finalists in Saturday's $1,150,000 Rainbow Futurity and four qualifiers in Sunday's finals of the $1,000,000 Rainbow Futurity.

Stroud has won AQHA Grade 1 races in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Sanchez began training in 2016, according to Equibase, and already is among the sport's top trainers, with current stable star, the unbeaten Grade 1-winning 2-year-old Dashnunder Afullmoon, leading the way.

Following are the horses for which notices of alleged violations were issued:

Brian Stroud: Desdemona Rambler, first in the eighth race at Retama Park on June 17

Jose Sanchez: Contentious Strike, first in the sixth race at Retama Park on June 10; Dancer's Toast, second in the 10th race at Retama Park on June 16

Judd Kearl: Zoomin N Celebrating, second in the 10th race at Sam Houston Race Park on May 22; Million Dollar Kiss, second in the ninth race at Retama Park on June 9; Chivalri, first in the 10th race at Retama Park on June 9; Tellem Honeys Here, first in the 10th race at Retama Park on June 10; Zoomin N Celebrating, first in the sixth race on June 17 at Retama Park.

  • kim

    Great article … wonder if his title could be stripped if convicted

    • angel sanchez

      need to impose heavy fines and suspensions…but yet someelse will run their horses under a different trainer… never a fair shake…

      • kim

        Agree ! Need to be like Los al , only 6 can go to another trainer. Keeps from paper training to another trainer

      • Tres Abagados Stupidos

        “Paging Leslie Padilla…..would Leslie Padilla please report to Judd Kearl’s barn”

    • Eric

      I doubt it.

      The 2016 AQHA world Champion was Jessies FIrst Down, trained by Judd Kearl
      2014 – JRC Callas First, trained by Brian Stroud
      2013 – Last To Fire, trained by Jose De La Torre, who is banned from Los Alamitos
      2012 – One Dashing Eagle, trained by De La Torre
      2009 – Freaky – trained by Adan Farias, banned from Los Al
      2008 – Stolis Winner, trained by Heath Taylor, currently serving a 5 year Demorphin suspension.

      Imagine if 6 of the last 9 TB Eclipse HOYs were trained by trainers that subsequently got into this much trouble.

      • kim

        Kind of was kidding , but pretty sure he won’t be getting any more titles

      • Mama Ann

        I think there is a Bassett who was training too and is serving a suspension.

        • Eric

          You’re not wrong – the son trained the 2007 world champ, and the father got a 10 year ban in 2012. I’m sure in some people’s minds, the father’s suspension cast a shadow on the son’s accomplishments, but I thought it would be unfair to lump the son in with the rest of that list, as the son never had any significant violations that I am aware of. I figured I had made my point.

    • David

      What about Robinson the vet?

      • kim

        Exactly ..

      • perks

        you mean the vet son of the trainer? the one that won a lot of races at RP this year?

  • Mama Ann

    Hang em. And start checking the TBs

    • Smitty

      Quick to convict moma.

      • Mama Ann

        How’s is going to get out of this one? Drug hasn’t been on the market for 20 years. The kind of drug it is has no reason being with a vet or a human. Compounding is the only way to get it. Who in his barn could have contaminated 5 horses with a drug like that. This trainer has a lousy past medication record too.

        • Contamination…no competitive advantage for the horse…somebody who is jealous spiked the feed tub…a Mexican employee with a grudge who has since fled back across the border did it…night watchman, who that evening ate some pizza prepared by a minimum-wage employee that had a drug habit and when the watchman set the feed tub for breakfast his hands were laced with that drug…etc., etc, etc.

          • Condor

            Sad but so true.

          • TwoBays

            don’t forget those bagels …

          • Mama Ann

            So they will go thru all the gyrations and it will all boil down to the fact the trainer will be held responsible. And unless he can find someone in his barn that is using it and contaminated the feed or whatever he will get his just rewards. The article said there are others with bad tests. Same groom or person who wants to see them get in trouble?

          • ray’s ghost

            Funny how that just never seems to be happen in John Shirreffs’ barn, isn’t it Barry?

      • ziggypop

        His reputation of being a cheater precedes this.

        • TR

          Since 2011 Trainer Judd kearl has had 15 positive test where 11 of them the purse has been redistributed. That’s just in Texas!

      • I wholeheartedly agree with you Smitty. It’s still America the last time I checked and it is still innocent until proven guilty for goodness sake’s alive. Besides if those boys in Hong Kong have never found a positive for this so-called drug, how are some cowboys in Texas gonna do it?PUH-lease. And this drug ain’t even been on the market for years! It’s not like these fellers could just sashay up to the counter and buy them some of these pills at the CVS. C’mon! This whole thing don’t hardly pass the smell test if you ask me.

        • Tom

          Why would this lab, have this exact drug on their list of things to test?

          • Larry Ensor

            Someone tipped off the stewards? And they asked the lab to specifically test for it?

        • Larry Ensor

          Google Nomifensine for sale, around $150 for 100mgs. Over night shipping extra.

          • From a compounder?

          • Larry Ensor

            Appeared to be. The results gave a number of different websites/companies to order from. Prices varied. I didn’t go through the ordering process so I don’t know what kind of “paperwork” needed to be submitted with the order.

            Usually it states that a prescription is need to place the order before even going through the check out line.

            Google steroids there are several pages of results to buy from. Most give complete details on how to use. Some even say the “preferred” best bang for the buck are ones used on horses. Just click order. On one of the sites on the top of the list today has Equipoise on sale, $79 which includes free air shipping.

            “Seasoned bodybuilders who have already used Equipoise recommend that it works best when used in the earlier part of a cycle. It can be utilized as a standalone steroid or can be stacked with other steroids. Moreover, Equipoise can be used by both men and women”

            “Additional Notes on Equipoise”

            “Equipoise has one of the longest half-lives in the world of anabolic steroids. It isn’t uncommon that it can remain in the system for months and even years. Veteran users of this steroid suggest that it shouldn’t be utilized during active sports seasons to avoid testing positive”

            Any trainer with nefarious intent can comb the internet for “tips and suggestions” on what to use/try. How and where to buy it. How to avoid “testing”.

        • perks

          Barry, Im pretty sure your aware that there are under cover folks at the track these days looking for the latest greatest drugs being used. They have been looking at this guy for a long time & being patient…Looks like its paid off. Now let the games begin. “Lawyers, drugs and money”…. In the mean time, owners are getting out of the game left and right. You reap what you sow.

        • Always Curious

          I do not believe this is the real Barry Irwin. He does not talk about medicating horses. He is anti-medication. At first I thought it was nor does he use this way of speaking. I have followed Barry & have been educated on the cheating in the industry. Am I wrong?

    • Archibald Bunker

      If they hang him and Peter Miller together they may get 2 for 1 discount.

      • TwoBays

        Peter is the junior offender in SoCal

  • Tinky

    Nine starts, with five wins and four seconds? Surely a reflection of excellent placement, high-quality oats and well maintained teeth, while the presence of Nomifensine was purely incidental.

    • Brent T

      Lmao. Wonder who says that all the time

    • talkingman17

      Not to mention GREAT LUCK!

  • El Espresso

    Suspend these guys for all the time available meaning many many years. Throw the book at them. Fine them for every available infraction. There is a vet involved as well and he needs the book thrown at him too. For way too long quarter horse racing has been run with the needle. Owners are financing these cheating trainers, providing the meds, the research to know what to run on, even the financing to have the meds compounded or shipped into the country from out of country labs. When millions are at stake in purse money, millions in breeding and yearling sales, and the overhead of training facilities; these crooks will stop at nothing to win and keep the cash flowing. The rules need to be changed to set down the horses and set them down for 6 months to year if caught with a class 1,2, or 3 violations. This will prompt the owners to demand trainers run clean. Nobody wants their horse sidelined for 6months to a year, especially futurity QH’s. The suspension time should be double for the trainers.

    • Eric

      You were all over this before the news broke.

      Kearl served 120 days of suspensions for medication violations in 2015. He also has multiple prior violations for Clenbuterol. So when he was the sport’s champion trainer in 2016, with the sport’s world champion horse, it had to raise some eyebrows. His horses ran out of their skin this spring at Sam Houston , and he has continued his phenomenal success at Ruidoso this summer.

      I guess contaminaton is possible, and I am sure everyone will lawyer up and this will drag out for a long time.

      News like this is partly bad news, from the black eye aspect, but partly good news, if it puts some of these guys out of business. I kind of hope a few more names emerge here.

      • El Espresso

        Well rumor has it there will be more. There are few more trainers who have had horses running way above their class and scuttlebutt is that there will be more going down soon. Even hearing a few horses shipped to Ruidoso have turned up dirty. Guess we will see !!

      • lastromantribune

        I guess contaminaton is possible….sure it is….I was born in the morning…just not this morning…………..

    • ben

      Maybe the majority od the horsemans ( working hard) are raising there voices, because they are suffering most from the cheating. Their livelyhood depends on that.

    • Tres Abagados Stupidos

      One of the best ironies here……the vet that was supplying this medicine was also the owner of one of horses that Kearl had a positive test on. Poetic justice.

      • sordo1960

        Chivalri – AQHA # 5603007?

      • George Duarte

        thats RLR robinsons son btw

        • Tres Abagados Stupidos

          I know. What’s the old saying about how the apple does not fall far from the tree?

        • El Espresso

          Supposedly the Feds moving in on the “vet” and the state veterinary board as well. He may be out of business or doing vet work on the prison horses before long. Maybe the prison horses will be able to run faster to catch runaway convicts.

    • Donnie Johnson

      This is exactly why I quit running horses. All I wanted to do was run drug free against other drug free horses. They should be banned for life as well as any other cheats. The industry is corrupt!

  • Big G

    the track were this bozo races should put a banner at the barn entrance , we do nothing but cheat here , if you want to go around as a cheater and horse drugger by all means see the trainer with the needles inside. these trainers should be treated like sex offenders , with their licenses revoked for two years and fined 25k , I thought this a class 1 felony altering the outcome of a sporting advent , this is a form of race fixing right? these bastards are killing this great sport day by day ,,please racing commissioners do something before its to late!!!!!

    • Old Horse

      You are absolutely right, Big G! The cheaters ARE KILLING on a daily basis what “used to be” a great sport! With all the plans, coalitions, commissions that are supposedly being put together to “govern and oversee” horseracing seem to be only figments of many imaginations. It isn’t gonna happen—too much money and politics involved. The train has left the station and is rolling down the tracks on its way to destruction I’m afraid….

      • Bella

        I agree…and is it not the horses that pay the ultimate price.

      • Showhorses

        You are right. This is only one element in a big picture. There is so much collusion and corruption on a daily basis that you will never see written or talked about. So much preferential treatment depending on who you are. It’s all about the $.

  • HM

    Suspend the Trainers for the Maximum time and test all the horses the have for a second or third time, if they already did it 5 times check it a 6th time they need to be punished. It’s not fare to the other Owners Traimers Breeders and Jockeys this should be a clean sport. They need to do Blood test, hair test, etc.

  • David

    Texas racing commission are not strict will see on this one

    • Alan

      Texas Race Commission has to rule by State Laws, Too fight drugging in horses the Feds need to get in on it, they can prosecute it by there laws, Trainer responsibility and possession of drugs by CARE, CUSTODY and CONTROL proven with the labs bad test proof. There are after the Greyhound racers in Flordia now.

  • TwoBays

    Geez … they’ll try anything

    • duchess

      The latest in enhancing human athletic performance is not drugs. It is in fecal transplants. Google for a Washington post article about fecal transplants and elite bicyclists. Hopefully this nasty and disgusting trend will never catch on for either humans or horses.

      • Mama Ann

        Yuk. Really? They do it with people who have C-diff but I didn’t know they were doing it with laced drugs.

        • duchess

          The c-diff thing saves lives. Literally. So yucky, but understandable.

          The athletic performance enhancement involves no drugs at all. Lately there has been a ton of research involving gut bacterias in humans. The little passengers we all carry around in ourselves are now thought to affect all sorts of physical conditions and contribute to medical problems and also medical treatments!

          They have found that some elite bicyclists carry a certain and specific microbiome in their intestines that allows them to perform better by enhacing muscle recovery. It is called Prevotella.

          They have recently found another organism called Methanobrevibacter archaea, also found in the intestines of elite athletes. It more effectively breaks down complex carbohydrates.

          They are already calling this bacterial doping, and people are giving themselves “reverse enemas” (which is VERY dangerous without a lot of medical testing to make sure the donor will not give the recipient diseases.)

          • Mama Ann

            Thanks for explaining it to me because I was wondering if feces were laced with drugs they would be detectable with testing. It’s just desirable bacteria.

  • Ben van den Brink

    Just a live time ban, for this guys et cie.

  • Fallow1

    Fines are not enough to stop this. Need hard jail time. 5 years or more.

  • Concerned

    Don’t judge until you know the entire story

    • Script writers are busy writing up up as this is being typed…

  • Raycing W

    Clearly all cases of contamination. Definitely the case with Kearl as he is a champion trainer, and as such beyond reproach. Just like Baffert. Good guys!

  • talkingman17

    Yaaawwwwnnnnnn……what esle is new….

  • Did it ever even occur to these overzealous racing officials that the horses may have been suffering from emotional stress and that the trainers were merely doing their best to brighten their lives? Why does it always have to wind up being called cheating? For the life of me I sometimes cannot understand these racing officials. I can see where this drug can be a great therapeutic value. It’s all about making the horse comfortable you know. Sheesh. Some people, honestly!

    • Eric

      He’s right! Horses do lose 85-90% of the time, they do need something to brighten their spirits. And it apparently has a nice side effect of causing them to lose less frequently!

    • duchess

      This is actually a serious drug. It does not act like what most people think of as anti-depressants. It is actually more of a stimulant.

    • Mama Ann

      ARCI. Go take a look see of all his past offenses. There is a pattern.

    • Always Curious

      I do not believe this is really Barry Irwin does not say these types of things about medicating horses nor talk in this manner.

  • Kevin Yu

    Let me know when the gambler stars filing lawsuits from lost wagers due to juiced horses winning a more or less fixed race

  • In the case of AQHA sanctioned events he the owner and the horse will be inegable to participate in any AQHA event. and that WILL be published in the aqua monthly magazine. As a membership suspension under the heading “RAC xxx” where xxx is the specific rule. Membership of both the trainer and owner are required.

    • Showhorses

      Ok so how are trainers now running in someone else’s name due to their bad tests and all of their horses previously have now gone to that trainer? I’ve seen them change ownership to a relative, hire someone as a figure head with a trainers license and keep running. Stalls at the track, like nothing ever happened.

      • Yup,
        program trainer, lease the horse to another owner, run in races that are not AQHA. Not certain what criteria they DQ the horse on but have seen it listed. several categories not just racing. It would be easy to scan those pages from last months journal but being copywrited?? it’s info you cannot get to without being a member there is not a way to see the rule book either without being a mbr

      • Condor

        Out of interest are the horses still winning or have there performances crashed sinced moving barns?

        • Showhorses

          In one case the horses are still winning because the trainer now(relative) is sharp and all business. In the other case there is a non horse person running the shedrow as a figurehead only. He can barely saddle one so they have declined dramatically.

    • Casey

      You do not have to be an AQHA member to race a horse. Most memberships lapse after the initial purchase. They did suspend owners and trainers for drug rulings, but Okla was the ONLY state with it written in their statute to abide by Stud Book Registry suspensions…All the other states chose to ignore it, and they caught so much flack and so many lawsuits, that it was dropped.

      • Hmm I’ll have to dig the book out and read. I thought in order to participate in a AQHA event (AQHA all American feturaty example ?) you had to be a member. But it’s been a few years

        • Casey

          The only races currently managed by the AQHA are the MBNA Challenge races, and membership, along with the horse being enrolled in the program are requirements.

        • snazzygirl

          In order to race a horse in an AQHA-sanctioned race and for the racing points to be counted towards year-end rewards, the trainer, owner, and horse have to registered with AQHA.

          • Yup
            halter points, showmanship points and points for registry of merit (TB QH crosses)
            what I was really getting at was AQHA has the suspension thing in place much more so than the thoroughbred organizations.

  • Fallow1

    Wonder is this story breaking and Arrogate not running a step are connected. Just kidding?

    • JustJoe

      He looked bad, never in the race.

  • Donald Sherer

    Suspending the trainer does nothing to stop the drugging as most of them just put the horses into their wife’s name. Only when the horses are suspended will the owners wake up and do something.

  • kim

    Aqha used to suspend the horse , but changed . That’s the only way to stop this , horse gets 6 months and owners get big fines , Nm is doing a good job of that …also tracks and or commissions need to not let all of the owners go to one trainer after a conviction. Los al they only let 6 go to a trainer , not whole barn…this stops paper training happening so easy

    • Showhorses

      You are exactly right. We have seen trainers get a bad test , swap to another “new ” trainer, they get a bad test, swap to a new one. 4 times in total. I mean come on?! Does it take a rocket scientist to see what is going on here??? It’s just an inconvenience for them.

  • Teddy

    I would say it has been tested on horses and by what I have read in the article it works pretty good!

  • snazzygirl

    Doesn’t surprise me at all about Judd Kearl. He’s been running on drugs most of his career. He should be banned for life from running any racehorses.

  • Manefan

    Photo + story = yuck. Thanks, PR for keeping the light bright on these losers.

  • texas-hawg

    any updates?


    I see nothing wrong with this. Everyone is doing it.

  • lastromantribune

    When is RACING going to WAKE UP ?…….whens it is dead and gone ?……….5 years for the first offense should be the penalty and 100k fine…..loss of purse money and any graded status.

  • lastromantribune

    and vets should lose there license to practice for the same amount of time. and or fines.

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