Days after the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission extended penalties given to owner/trainer Mario Rafael Rodriguez for “failure to provide proper veterinarian care” to a horse with a broken ankle, the commission confirms there is an active and ongoing investigation into Rodriguez's operation at Penn National. State veterinarians and commission officials removed another horse, a gelding named You R Wonderful, from Rodriguez's possession Dec. 15 after they determined the horse needed immediate veterinary care.
According to Dr. Kathryn Papp, an independent veterinarian involved in the earlier case of the gelding with a broken ankle (Silent Ruler), a horse was found dead in its stall in the Rodriguez shedrow Dec. 15 after it had been treated for colic earlier in the day. Commission officials were called to the scene and subsequently chose to examine the dozen or so horses remaining in the owner/trainer's possession. The condition of 4-year-old gelding You R Wonderful prompted officials to call Papp for an independent assessment.
Her examination revealed the horse, who finished fifth in a maiden claiming contest on Dec. 1, to be lame at the walk and had an injury to his suspensory ligament and a crack in the cannon bone on the same leg. The horse also had a bowed tendon, which appeared to be an old injury. Papp was asked by commission and state veterinarian representatives to remove the horse from the barn and stabilize him for further treatment.
“A cooperative effort has been undertaken by the PA Horse Racing Commission, Penn National and the PA HBPA to attempt to insure the welfare of the horses,” said Tom Chuckas, Bureau Director of Thoroughbred Racing for the commission. “There is an active investigation regarding Mr. Rodriguez's stable.”
Two Rodriguez horses that had been entered to run on Dec. 16 were scratched by the stewards. He has two entries remaining for this Wednesday, Dec. 20. Eric Johnston, racing director for Penn National, did not return multiple requests from the Paulick Report for comment on the status of Rodriguez's ability to enter horses or his stalls at the track.
Papp reported the condition of Silent Ruler to the commission when the gelding was found with a severely swollen ankle in late September which later turned out to be a serious fracture requiring $12,000 in surgery and rehabilitation. A CANTER post in that case indicated the horse had been lame following a race approximately one month prior and no diagnostics were done to determine the cause of that lameness.
A board of stewards initially gave Rodriguez a fine of $500 and suspension of 45 days for “failure to provide proper veterinarian care” in the case of Silent Ruler. Last week, the commission amended that ruling to a one-year suspension and $2,500 fine. The suspension is set to commence Dec. 26. Rodriguez was given 10 days to appeal the commission's modified ruling.
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