“I should have been a vet.”
That's what Louisiana trainer Anthony Agilar said in 2012 when he received a three-year suspension from the Louisiana State Racing Commission after two of his horses tested positive for the powerful painkiller dermorphin (a.k.a. frog juice).
Agilar and two other trainers receiving harsh suspensions for dermorphin, Lamont Keith Charles and Kyi Lormand, all said they used the same veterinarians to treat their horses, Dr. Kyle Hebert or his associate, Stephanie Fronning.
Agilar testified at the racing commission hearing that Hebert told him the drug Agilar's horses were getting was an “herb,” and a generic form of Equipoise, an injectable anabolic steroid. Agilar told the commission he confronted his veterinarian when he was notified of the positive tests for dermorphin.
“He swore up and down it could not be traceable and it was an herb. He said there was no way it could be found in testing.”
One of Agilar's owners, Steve Isaac, summed it up this way: “Dr. Hebert was not honest with us.”
Agilar said Hebert charged $103 for each shot of the “herb” and had been administering it to all of his horses over about a year and a half.
“(Hebert) made a bunch of money and he is still riding around the racetrack treating horses,” Agilar said after the 2012 hearing.
Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana State Racing Commission, said in 2012 that state police were investigating Hebert and other veterinarians named in the dermorphin cases. In the 2 ½ years that have followed the racing commission has taken no action on any of the vets. The state police have not charged anyone with a crime. A federal investigation, said to be focused on illegal compounded drugs in several states including Louisiana, has yielded nothing.
The culture of cheating that exists in some areas of American horse racing certainly includes trainers. But it does not begin and end with them.
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