The attorney for suspended trainer Aparna Battula is demanding a correction to a New Jersey Racing Commission stewards ruling to reflect the trainer's contention that a cache of hypodermic needles, syringes and vials of injectables investigators found on premises she occupied at Monmouth Park was planted by a disgruntled former employee.
The ruling, issued Aug. 9, states that “the board of stewards has determined that on July 29, 2019, New Jersey Racing Commission licensed trainer Aparna Battula, by her own admission, did possess in her occupied premises on the grounds of Monmouth Park … over 30 hypodermic needles and syringes as well as over 80 vials of injectable substances. These items were confiscated and a number of the injectable substances sent for analysis.”
Battula was suspended immediately, “due to the nature and seriousness of these violations,” the ruling states, pending a hearing to be scheduled once the confiscated items have been analyzed and the results reported to the New Jersey Racing Commission.
Karen Murphy, attorney for Battula, sent the following email to New Jersey officials:
“I write FIRST to respectfully demand that you make a correction concerning the attached ruling which inaccurately states that Ms. Battula “by her own admission, did possess in her occupied premises on the grounds of Monmouth Park … over 30 hypodermic needles and syringes as well as over 80 vials of injectable substances.” There was NO such admission. Rather, the testimony established that one of your licensees (Maria Cardone) who refused to appear in person at the administrative hearing planted two bags in Ms. Battula's tack room in retaliation for having been fired the day before. As you are aware from that same testimony, at no time did Ms. Battula 'possess' any prohibited items on the premises of Monmouth Park.
“SECOND, please be advised that we are exercising our right to split testing of the samples provided to Truesdail Laboratories. In that regard, please identify what was sent, when the test samples were sent, whether any samples were sent from the sealed bottles which constituted the vast majority of the properly labeled medications/vitamins, what are the samples being tested for (or identification of the testing screens) and when will your laboratory have its test results (in the hearing while you indicated it would “take months” without having made any inquiry of the laboratory that time estimate for the results is widely off the mark).
“Please prepare splits of all test samples so that they may be forwarded to our laboratory no later than Tuesday of next week (August 13). Please confirm same in writing on Monday, August 12, and, at that time, I will provide you with our laboratory information.”
Aparna, 31, is a native of India who came to the United States to become a jockey. She graduated from the North American Racing Academy and rode from 2011-'13, winning with 27 of 340 mounts, then switched to training horses in 2015 after suffering an injury while riding. Battula has won 7 of 75 career starts as a trainer, including 3 of 25 this year while racing primarily in New Jersey.
Battula's summary suspension was issued while she was serving a 15-day ban resulting from a dexamethasone positive. Sassy Chub, trained by Battula for Nick Surick Stable and Bamond Racing Stable, was disqualified from a second-place finish at Monmouth Park on May 19 after testing positive for the drug.
Murphy said she has filed an appeal with the New Jersey Racing Commission and has requested a stay of the summary suspension.
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