Florida Follies: Dozens Of Drug Positives Thrown Out Due To State Incompetence

by | 05.24.2017 | 11:37am

How incompetent is the leadership at Florida's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, the state government agency that regulates horse racing in the state?

Let me count the ways: 1, 2, 3, 4 … 100, maybe more.

That's how many administrative complaints for medication violations in just over a year had to be tossed out because of the division's inability to comply with Florida law in how to collect and process post-race blood samples.

It's not as if these faceless Tallahassee bureaucrats weren't warned.

A November 2015 recommended order by administrative law judge F. Scott Boyd reinstating the occupational license of trainer Kirk Ziadie, which had previously been denied by the division, warned officials their method of collecting did not comply with state law. In brief, detention barn personnel were collecting blood according to a 2010 Procedures Manual that was never officially approved. Samples were taken and sealed after a race, with a representative of an owner present, then opened later in the day, centrifuged to separate serum from blood, then poured into another tube and sealed with no owner representatives present. Dr. Steven Barker, an expert for Ziadie's attorney Bradford Beilly, said unsupervised reopening of samples left them “most vulnerable to potential contamination, potential misidentification, to potential tampering.”

We wrote about the issue then, pointing out the obvious: “A bigger question beyond Ziadie's licensing is the enforceability of any positive drug tests going forward, until such time as the procedures are changed to comply with the 2001 Florida rule, or the 2010 Procedures Manual is made official.”

In April 2016, several months after the Procedures Manual was determined to be an unadopted rule, the dim bulbs at the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering came out with a new “guidelines” document that intentionally left the blood collection and spinning process vague. In a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” scheme, test personnel apparently were instructed to follow the 2010 Procedures Manual, despite the adoption of the new, vague guidelines.

Fast forward to Feb. 7, 2017, and another recommended order from administrative law judge Boyd, who called this three-card Monte move by the Division a “formalistic charade masking the reality that there was no change in actual Division policy.”

This case was brought by trainer Teresa Pompay, who was notified of two positive tests for overages of therapeutic medications, one in February 2016 and another in May 2016. Her charges were thrown out after the Division accepted Boyd's recommended order, based once again on flaws in the chain of custody procedures and the de facto reliance on the 2010 Procedures Manual that was never adopted as a formal rule.

These were two of more than 100 administrative complaints filed by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering against trainers for allegedly violating medication rules in 2016 and early 2017. Some trainers settled the charges, accepting fines or suspensions. Others, aware of the earlier ruling involving Ziadie and the chain of custody question, hired an attorney and challenged the Division.

On the date the Division dismissed the complaints against Pompey, it adopted an emergency rule pertaining to blood collection. It then sought input from the industry for a permanent rule.

On April 7, the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering began notifying trainers the administrative complaints against them were being dismissed. In the Order of Dismissal, signed by Anthony J. Glover, director of the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, trainers were told “the Division cannot rely on the serum specimens collected… as the basis for further agency action in this case even though that specimen tested positive for an impermissible medication.”

Paulick Report obtained from the Division the names of 51 trainers notified of dismissals from April 7-14. Listed below are the dates of each administrative complaint, the horse, track and medication involved. Note that many of the dismissed complaints involved medications for which threshold levels have been raised since they were first flagged as “positive” (i.e., xylazine and mepivicaine) and that Florida adopted National Uniform Medication Program guidelines in January 2016, which triggered an unusually high number of positive tests for stacking of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

This is an embarrassment for the state of Florida and for its governor, Rick Scott. Florida is the only horse racing state that regulates this major industry without a racing or gaming commission, instead relying on a constantly revolving door of state employees who have no knowledge of or interest in writing and enforcing the rules. The horsemen and horseplayers are being cheated by the incompetence of the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering that oversees this industry.

Juan D. Arias Jr. (2): Tiger Bourbon, 2/26/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone); Michaelslittleally, 5/16/16, Gulfstream Park (bethamethasone)

Horacio Alberto Barbaran: Alto Precio 1/26/17, Calder Race Course (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Gerald S. Bennett (2): This Boy's Sharp, 6/1/16, Tampa Bay Downs (xylazine); Angel Falls, 3/28/16, Tampa Bay Downs (flunixin, ketoprofen, phenylbutazone)

William Jordan Blair (2): Faction Cat, 4/11/16, Tampa Bay Downs (dexamethasone); Bet With Charlie, 3/21/16, Tampa Bay Downs (methylprednisolone)

Maria A. Bowersock: Sandia Crest, 4/20/16, Tampa Bay Downs (dexamethasone)

Ashlee Brooke Brnjas: Augusto B, date not available, Tampa Bay Downs (dimethylsulfoxide)

Edwin T. Broome: Castleboy, 5/17/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Mark E. Casse (2): Kaigun, 5/6/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone); Spring Spirit, 12/19/16, Calder Race Course (methylprednisolone)

Jane D. Cibelli: Spender, 1/17/17, Gulfstream Park (isoflupredone)

Jason Anthony Dacosta (2): Strollingintherain, 3/21/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Man o Bear, 6/10/16, Tampa Bay Downs (betamethasone)

Bobby S. Dibona: Vow Me Over, 12/13/16, Calder Race Course (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Luis Duco: Motion's First, 10/11/16, Gulfstream Park (methocarbamol)

Rodolfo G. Garcia (2): Moonless Sky, 1/9/17, Gulfstream Park (methocarbamol); Rock All Day, 7/13/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone)

Jose R. Garoffalo: JR's Holiday, 3/21/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Christos Gatis (3): Royal Fighter, date not available, Tampa Bay Downs (methocarbamol); Drama Princess, date not available, Tampa Bay Downs (methocarbamol); Pom Pom Power, 6/2/16, Tampa Bay Downs (methocarbamol)

Stan I. Gold: Sunshine n Shadow, 11/1/16, Tropical Park (mepivacaine)

Anthony J. Granitz (3): Epic Journey, 3/2/16, Tampa Bay Downs (dexamethasone); Rizzi Girl Twelve, 3/30/16, Tampa Bay Downs (dexamethasone); Long to Win, 3/30/16, Tampa Bay Downs (triamcinolone acetonide)

Alison Hassig: Sandro, 2/14/17, Tampa Day Downs (glycopyrolate)

Jennifer A. Hayford-Quinones: Diamond Tour, 2/16/17, Tampa Bay Downs (triamcinolone acetonide and xylazine)

Ian Robert Hemingway (4): Leroisgoldanimal, 6/10/16, Tampa Bay Downs (hydroxyethyl promazine sulfoxide and methylprednisolone); Proud Mary Strikes, 6/10/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Annabella Hall, 7/29/16, Tampa Bay Downs (hydroxydantrolene); Bridles Holiday, 11/1/16, Gulfstream Park (methylprednisolone)

Rosemary B. Homeister Sr.: Blessedwithprayer, 5/16/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone)

Timothy J. Kelly: Next Cowboy Up, 1/18/17, Calder Race Course (triamcinolone acetonided)

Dane Kobiskie: Lallie, 9/20/16, Gulfstream Park (mepivacaine)

Paul Kopaj (2): Starship Galaxy, 4/17/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin, ketoprofen, phenylbutazone); Starship Galaxy, 5/2/16, Gulfstream Park (clenbuterol)

Tamara Levy (2): Pathos, 5/16/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone); Dancin in the Heat, date not available, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone)

Braulio M. Lopez Jr: Indio Nativo, 3/7/17, Tampa Bay Downs (phenylbutazone)

Aubrey A. Maragh (3): Tuneintobow, 3/21/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Love Rules All, 5/25/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); It's Not Me 6/15/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone)

Clyde W. Martin Jr.: Sister Caro, 2/6/17, Gulfstream Park (xylazine)

Alejandro M. Maymo: Majestic Maiara, 2/6/17, Gulfstream Park (dimethylsulfoxide)

Kiaran P. McLaughlin: Farz, 5/16/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone)

Angel M. Medina: Big Distinction, 7/8/16, Gulfstream Park (phenlbutazone)

Keith Raymond Nations (2): Morning Fire, 3/3/16, Tampa Bay Downs (isoflupredone); Global Glow, 3/3/16, Tampa Bay Downs (betamethasone)

Jorge I. Navarro (2): Vera's Finally, 6/2/16, Gulfstream Park (mepivacaine); Chatt Hills, 5/9/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Marcial R. Navarro (4): Britannia's Moat, 10/11/16, Gulfstream Park (methocarbamol); Bluegrass Lady, 6/28/16, Gulfstream Park (methocarbamol); Fan Base, 10/11/16, Gulfstream Park (methocarbamol); Little Twitch, 10/11/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone)

Ralph E. Nicks: Awesome Sting, 6/10/16, Gulfstream Park (mepivacaine)

Kathleen O'Connell (3): Bettarun Realfast, 4/13/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone); Romantic Henry, 6/9/16, Tampa Bay Downs (phenylbutazone); Game Lad, 7/20/16, Tropical Park (betamethasone)

Pasquale Parente: Extremist, 3/28/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin, ketoprofen, phenylbutazone)

Todd A. Pletcher (4): Stanford, 4/11/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone); Destin, 5/16/16, Tampa Bay Downs (isoflupredone); Brinkley, 5/16/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Gracious Plenty, 5/16/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone)

Robert A. Raymond: Jockey Jills Dream, 3/3/16, Tampa Bay Downs (xylazine)

Juan P. Rizo: Admiral's Win, 2/7/17, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Darien Rodriguez (2): Lighthouse Sound, 3/21/16, Tampa Bay Downs (flunixin, ketoprofen, phenylbutazone); Awesome Prizes, 3/21/16, Tampa Bay Downs (betamethasone)

Juan Andres Rodriguez (3): My Wish List, 5/25/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Let Love Rule, 5/25/16, Gulfstream Park (mepivacaine); Let Love Rule, 7/13/16, Gulfstream Park (mepivacaine)

Derek S. Ryan: Mythical Man, 2/18/16, Tampa Bay Downs (methylprednisolone)

Antonio Sano: Elsenordeloscielos, 11/7/16, Tropical Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Jason J. Servis (4): Ramblin N Gamblin, 6/10/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Ramblin N Gamblin, 5/13/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Indian Splendor, 6/2/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine); Gran the Man, 5/13/16, Gulfstream Park (xylazine)

Chad J. Stewart: Replay, 5/16/16, Tampa Bay Downs (betamethasone)

Amy E. Tarrant: D'Oro Tomorrow, 3/11/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone)

Ray Trisler: Onceaboutadream, 2/22/17, Tampa Bay Downs (dimethylsulfoxide)

James G. Tsirigotis Jr.: Indy Silver Bullet, 3/8/16, Tampa Bay Downs (flunixin, ketoprofen, phenylbutazone)

George R. Weaver (2): Madame Barbarian, 5/18/16, Gulfstream Park (betamethasone); Requite, 7/13/16, Gulfstream Park (ketoprofen)

Martin Wolfson (11): Best Bahavior, 4/8/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin, phenylbutazone, dexamethasone); Miss Melinda, 4/8/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone); Gem Twist, 3/21/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone); Curlin's Princess, 5/18/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin and phenylbutazone); Curlin's Princess, 6/2/16, Gulfstream Park dexamethasone); To Remember, 6/2/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone); Best Behavior, 5/18/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone); Happy's Causeway, 6/2/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone); Kiss to Remember, 6/10/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone); Kiss to Remember, 8/23/16, Gulfstream Park (medication unavailable); Liberty Road, 6/10/16, Gulfstream Park (dexamethasone)

Gilberto Zerpa (2): Dearest, 5/9/16, Gulfstream Park (flunixin, methocarbamol, phenylbutazone); Dunkin Bend, 8/15/16, Gulfstream Park (triamcinolone acetonide)

Ralph G. Ziadie (3): Misty Phyllis, 4/11/16, Gulfstream Park (clenbuterol and phenlbutazone); Baby I'm Worth It, 10/14/16, Gulfstream Park (methocarbamol); R Cat Daddy, 10/14/16, Gulfstream Park (methocarbamol)

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