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Nomifensine is a human anti-depressant drug developed in the 1960s and withdrawn from the market in the early 1990s due to adverse side effects in patients, including drowsiness and increased heart rate.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.
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