Lilly Is First, winner of the $337,186 Mountain Top New Mexico Quarter Horse Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on June 13, tested positive for clenbuterol while qualifying for the race in a futurity trial at the New Mexico racetrack on May 29, according to Vince Mares, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission. The filly is one of four Quarter horses from the barn of trainer Michael Joiner to test above permitted levels for the bronchodilator over a one-week period in late May, Mares confirmed to the Paulick Report.
Lilly Is First is owned in partnership by R. D. Hubbard, Paul Blanchard and Mike Abraham. Hubbard is owner of Ruidoso Downs, which last fall announced enhanced surveillance and “super testing” for its major races beginning in 2015. Blanchard operates The Downs Racetrack & Casino in Albuquerque, Abraham is a leading New Mexico horse breeder.
Joiner is the seventh-ranked trainer nationally by money won, according to the American Quarter Horse Association.
Lilly Is First, a daughter of First Moonflash bred by Abraham, won her career debut in the futurity trials, drawing off by two lengths as the 7-5 favorite. She won the Mountain Top Futurity by three-quarters of a length as the 8-5 second betting choice.
The three other Joiner-trained horses that Mares said tested positive for clenbuterol were:
–Koby's Wagon, winner of a May 23 Ruidoso Futurity trial by 1 ¼ lengths. The gelding is owned by Scott and Monica Jones.
–Thunderball B, second in a May 24 Ruidoso Derby trial heat, beaten a half-length by the favorite Bf Farm Boss. Thunderball B is owned by Patrick Guthrie, Billy G. Smith, Paul Blanchard and Andrew F. Grooms.
–Straw Fly Flower, second, beaten 1 ½ lengths by favorite Jess Cruzin On By, in a Mountain Top Futurity trial on May 29. Straw Fly Flower is owned by Brad Williams.
Hubbard announced last September that Ruidoso Downs was cracking down on medication violators, which he called a “cancer to horse racing.” The measures included requirements that horses entered in major races be stabled at the track and be subjected to out-of-competition testing to “ensure that those who participate in the major futurities and derbies at Ruidoso will be able to compete on a level playing field through added efforts to deter and potentially catch anyone who would attempt to drug a horse, thus ensuring the welfare of the horses and jockeys and eliminating unfair advantages for all participants. We simply will not tolerate such illegal behavior.”
The AQHA in December said it was moving toward a zero-tolerance policy on clenbuterol.
New Mexico has in recent years toughened its medication rules and improved testing in order to combat rampant drug abuse by some horsemen in the state.
According to published reports, split samples from the four horses are being tested to confirm the presence of clenbuterol above permitted levels. If the violations are confirmed, stewards will conduct hearings and publish rulings on each case.
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