Stewards at Delaware Park have suspended trainer Larry Jones for seven days, fined him $500 and ordered a purse redistribution following a hearing on Tuesday concerning the discovery of a higher than permitted level of Clenbuterol in a post-race test for Two Bucks Stable's Stones River, who won a June 8 allowance race at Delaware Park.
John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, told the Paulick Report that Jones indicated he would appeal the ruling, which was handed down on Wednesday. The commission is expected to hear the appeal on Oct. 21. Jones was granted a stay until that time.
The ruling against Jones was the first of any kind during the trainer's 25-year career, according to the data base at the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The penalties assessed Jones are significantly lower than the model rules recommended last month by RCI, which Wayne said call for a suspension of 60 days to six months and up to a $1,500 fine for Clenbuterol, a Class 3 drug according to RCI guidelines. The seven-day suspension and $500 fine is in line with other first-offense Clenbuterol rulings in the Mid-Atlantic reguib, according to Wayne.
“The testimony given would be taken into consideration by the stewards,” said Wayne, who did not attend the hearing. Wayne said mitigating circumstances also may be taken into consideration by stewards when ruling on medication violations.
The Stones River case gained national attention when Jim Squires, co-owner with wife Mary Anne of Two Bucks Stable, issued a statement after being notified of the positive test, saying that it was a “highly suspicious” case and suggested it may have involved sabotage of the horse or drug test. Squires was notified of the result two days before a Congressional hearing examining drugs and welfare issues related to Thoroughbreds; a one-time member of the Kentucky Racing Commission, Squires has been an outspoken critic of the drugging of horses. An author and former editor of the Chicago Tribune, he also wrote a blog for the New York Times during this year's Triple Crown in which he called for a ban on anabolic steroids.
Squires also wrote a New York Times commentary citing the need for widespread industry reforms in the wake of the death on national television of the Larry Jones-trained filly, Eight Belles, after she finished second to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby. No illegal drugs or anabolic steroids were found in the filly's system during post-mortem testing.
“We have faith in the integrity of Delaware racing authorities and their interest in fair treatment. But we also are aware how staff and budget resources limit the ability of regulators to conduct thorough, successful criminal investigations. If this were a case of cheating in NASCAR or the NFL, there would be a commissioner with full authority and investigative expertise to step in and get to the bottom of it. In view of the highly charged public atmosphere surrounding the credibility of racing, the full resources of the Jockey Club, the NTRA, Breeders' Cup and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association should be offered to the Delaware Racing Commission and the Department of Agriculture to assure a fair and credible resolution of this matter. If necessary, the entire purse from the race should be used to supplement required resources. As an owner, Two Bucks Stable is far more interested in the credibility of our horse, our trainer and our industry than we are the money.”
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