Dale Capuano Held Blameless After Horse Tests Positive For Cocaine; Owners Appeal DQ

by | 09.13.2017 | 9:57pm
Dale Capuano, celebrating his 3,000th victory in 2013

Trainer Dale Capuano has been held blameless because of what Laurel Park stewards called “mitigating circumstances” after Six Tonsafun, a horse in his care, tested positive for cocaine and its metabolites following a victory in the fourth race at the Maryland track on July 22.

According to the ruling, dated Aug. 31, Maryland Racing Commission investigators interviewed the horse's groom after Truesdail Laboratories in California reported the positive test. “Because of his past history and the drug in question,” the ruling states, “the groom was requested to deliver a urine sample. He refused to take the drug test but did admit that he was in possession of cocaine the day the horse ran.”

Capuano waived his right to a split sample and legal representation at an Aug. 20 hearing.

Stewards opted not to fine or suspend Capuano but did disqualify Six Tonsafun from the victory and the $13,110 in purse money for first place.

On Sept. 8, Capuano filed an appeal with the Maryland Racing Commission on behalf of owners Rob Ry Farm and Jayne Marie Slysz disputing the horse's disqualification.

Purse money, which previously had been ordered redistributed, is now being held by the horsemen's bookkeeper. Until the appeal is heard, Six Tonsafun and the original runner-up, Abracadabra, are both considered winners for race condition purposes.

Capuano, who has saddled 3,319 winners from 17,076 starters since 1981, has been sanctioned three times for minor medication violations since 2005, according to ThoroughbredRulings.com.

The decision to hold Capuano blameless is in contrast to how three positive tests for cocaine were handled by Maryland stewards in 1991. Charlie Hadry, Richard Delp and Carlos Garcia each were handed 15-day suspensions despite evidence of contamination from backstretch employees.

J. Michael Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said the recent court decision in Kentucky overturning a drug disqualification and calling the state's absolute insurer rule unconstitutional did not play into the stewards' decision in the Capuano case.

“The way our rule is structured the absolute insurer clause is still there, but as far as a penalty is concerned, it says stewards may suspend or fine the trainer. In the years I've been with the racing commission, the absolute insurer rule has been challenged several times in court and it's always stood up. As one of our commissioners said recently about the Kentucky ruling, Maryland is a different state.”

In 2016, Texas stewards absolved several trainers of any blame when six horses tested positive for a different street drug, methamphetamine. Stewards similarly ruled human contamination was a “mitigating circumstance” in not suspending or fining the trainers. The horses in those cases were disqualified from their placings and purse money earned.

  • Larry sterne

    If the trainers don’t want to be sanctioned for drug contamination by the help all they have to do is give a simple drug test to confirm no druggies employed. If the workers want the money, they take the test.! If no test given ,trainer is responsible. Let’s don’t make this complicated

  • affirmed

    when will this stop? seems never…. reason, Horses are tested and results comes back positive for illegal drugs, and then there is speculations, and then hearings, and then decisions made are then reversed, and everyone in the Horse drugging business walks free! so whenever I were to read about those trainers whose Horses comes back with findings of any type of illegal drugs, I just say, these findings are just a mere formality, meaning, the more heat they put on the trainers, the more trainers are exonorated! its simply a Drug Horse racing game, cant you see that?

    • Jack The Ripper

      It will stop once the American public wakes up and stop contributing their hard-earned money. People love to talk about the horse first but of course that’s nothing but rhetoric.

  • affirmed

    question? I have noticed that even whenever Horses are found to have been tested , and they come up with any drugs, they then turn to the amount of overage and underage! meaning they say for example .005 of that drug is allowed, and it could be the drug still in the Horses system when he had coilc or a hoof problem! it’s always an escape route, so if they are serious regarding illegal drugs, show the public by enforcing the no drugs policy, no matter the amount? and ban guys like what they did to trainer Dutrow? then this might let them stop.. as their livleyhood would cease, and they either come clean or stay away.

    • Bryan Langlois

      It is a little more complicated than that, as drugs are metabolized at different rates in different horses. The only method in which that type of system would work would be drug testing day of entries and having the results back by the time of race day. Then you could scratch horse on basis of positive before race was run. It of course would also have to likely have some method of getting split sample tested as well for confirmation or due process issues will ensue. With the current turn around time of 3-5 weeks I think in some cases for basic post race testing to come back, it would be a very hard thing to implement without a major increase in the number of testing labs in the country.

      • affirmed

        Thanks Bryan, it seems to really stop this illegal druggings, is much harder than to drug Horses..as so much have to be done regarding the testing, and handling of samples, while those who administer the drugs know exactly what they are doing? ..they only hope they do not come up positive…is the chance most of them take..sorry Game!!

  • HorsePower Racing

    APPEAL THE PURSE ??? Seriously , so the cocaine is OK, now you want the purse ? Seriously ?

  • Quilla

    Cocaine’s not called “horse” for nothing…

    • Beau Geste

      Not a big deal, but “horse” was a drug reference for heroin.

      • Quilla

        Yes. Yes, of course it is! I need to watch better movies…

        • Beau Geste

          School was pretty much a waste of time for me. All I learned that really mattered came at the movies.

  • Beau Geste

    The article did not describe the punishment handed down to the groom. Has he been fired by Capuano? Has he been banned from Maryland horse racing?

    • Jermane McDonald

      He’s ruled off

    • Larry Davis

      Is he in a treatment program?

  • Pete Valenzuela

    Good news. Very happy that Dale Cokeuano found blameless. He’s a solid guy who would never cheat.

  • Lonestar95

    Further proof racing needs to be under the USADA & the horse racing integrity act need to be passed by congress

    • Peter Scarnati

      Please explain, if you would be so kind, exactly how having the USADA and horse racing integrity act would change this particular case. Please be specific.

  • Mike Magnus

    if they hire these crack heads then they are to blame maybe the groom cashed a big ticket

  • I was an assistant for Dale. He would never do this. Second. The level has not been disclosed. I have won a race because the winner showed positive for the same thing. The amount in the horse could not have any influence on the out come. These test are so sensitive now. A drug addict handling hay after doing a line can make a horse show positive. Careful how you judge. What if you go to work and they test you. The breakfast you ate was handled by a drug addict. Now you show positive.

    • Den Jay

      I understand and agree with what you are saying, however no matter what amount is picked up in the sample there is no other alternative but to DQ the horse. To appeal to try and get the prizemoney though is laughable…No matter if the trainer did no wrong or the stable hand used coke and it was just a minute amount because of contact with horse or feed.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram