According to a report by the Daily Racing Form, Kentucky's absolute insurer rule regarding trainer responsibility in drug cases could be in jeopardy after a judge's ruling earlier this month.
The ruling was the latest in a line of appeals in the case of trainer Graham Motion, who was hit with a methocarbamol overage in spring 2015. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission found a post-race sample of Motion trainee Kitten's Point over the threshold for the muscle relaxant and handed down a suspension, fine, and purse redistribution from the race. Motion maintained that although the horse had received the drug regularly for a period of time during training, he stopped administration well outside the commission's recommended withdrawal timeframe pre-race, and challenged the scientific basis for the commission's rules.
In the fall of 2016, the commission dropped the five-day suspension included in its original ruling but maintained the ruling, the $500 fine, and the purse redistribution it had imposed.
Earlier this month, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate overturned the commission's penalties for the violation, stating they “are not based on science,” according to Motion's attorney, Craig Robertson. Wingate also stated the absolute insurer rule violates Kentucky's constitution.
The absolute insurer rule, which exists in some form in all racing states, essentially states trainers are ultimately responsible for a horse's condition, regardless of whether other people, such as employees or veterinarians, also have access to the horse. The rule, which has met several legal challenges over the years, has allowed commissions to hand down rulings for medication violations without allowing trainers to pass blame for a drug's presence in a horse.
Wingate ruled Motion should have been allowed to present evidence challenging the threshold level or evidence of potential environmental contamination in the case, and the commission's refusal to allow this violated the trainer's right to due process.
Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the KHRC, told the Form the commission has not yet determined whether it will appeal the ruling.
Read more at the Daily Racing Form
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