Jess Jackson, majority owner of reigning Horse of the Year Curlin, said he retains confidence in the 4-year-old colt's trainer, Steve Asmussen, in the wake of a reported medication positive in Texas by another runner in Asmussen's stable.
Asmussen has been notified by the Texas Racing Commission that the post-race drug test for Timber Trick, a 3-year-old Forestry filly owned by Graham Beck's Gainesway Stable, detected the prohibited Class 2 medication lidocaine after a maiden victory at Lone Star Park May 10. Timber Trick won the six-furlong race by seven lengths as the even-money favorite while making her sixth lifetime start. According to published reports, the recommended penalty is a six-month suspension.
Asmussen's attorney, Karen Murphy, told Daily Racing Form she will “vigorously defend” the trainer's innocence. A hearing has been set for July 18.
“I trust Steve to be an honest trainer and he has my confidence,” Jackson said in a statement to the Paulick Report. “Steve knows and supports my stance opposing any performance enhancing race day medications and I have never had cause to question his treatment or care of my horses. Steve Asmussen and his legal team have informed me that they are contesting the allegations by the Texas Racing Commission.”
“I do believe this once again brings to the forefront our industry's urgent need for a national horse owners' organization that can bring uniformity, transparency and accountability to medication use and testing in thoroughbred racing,” Jackson continued. “As I have stated previously, we need to immediately replace the existing patchwork of state standards with a centralized and independent medication testing program.”
Jackson recently testified before a Congressional hearing that examined drugs in the Thoroughbred, among other issues. “Speaking bluntly,” Jackson told the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection on June 19, “the horse industry has a drug problem. We must replace the existing patchwork of state standards with a uniform national standard that is in accord with international zero-tolerance rules.”
Asmussen, the leading American trainer in 2008 by both earnings and winners, was forced to sit out six months in 2006 due to a suspension after one of his horses tested positive for mepivacaine. Both lidocaine and mepivacaine are anesthetic medications that have therapeutic use but can be used to block pain and enhance performance. A listing of previous rulings involving Asmussen from the database of the Association of Racing Commissioners International shows a number of other medication violations during his career as a trainer.
By Ray Paulick
Copyright ©2008, The Paulick Report
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