Texas Racing Commission stewards have issued immediate summary suspensions for three Quarter horse trainers – Judd Kearl, Jose Sanchez and Brian Stroud – who on July 21 were notified of alleged positive tests for the Class 1 drug nomifensine, an anti-depressant drug that was taken off the market in the U.S. 25 years ago because of potential side effects. The alleged positive tests came in horses racing at Sam Houston Race Park and Retama Park between May 22 and June 17.
Kearl, the 2016 AQHA champion trainer who swept the $1-million Rainbow Derby and $1-million Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico July 22-23, was notified that five of his horses allegedly tested positive for nomifensine, with Sanchez receiving two notices of alleged positive tests and Stroud receiving one. The alleged findings were reported by the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M University, which conducts testing for the Texas Racing Commission.
Each summary suspension stated: “This Class 1 drug is known to be dangerous in humans, has not been tested on horses, and has been removed from the market by the FDA. These positive tests were among eight total positives that occurred within a time period of a few weeks, by three trainers at two different tracks. The totality of these circumstances strongly indicate a scheme to cheat and also indicate that the drug was intentionally administered (by the accused trainer), either directly or at his instruction. Therefore, in order to protect the safety and health of race participants, both human and equine, and to protect the public from unlawful influences on the outcome of races, a summary suspension under Texas Racing Act Section 3:16 and Commission Rule 307.62 is hereby immediately imposed … pending a hearing on the merits.”
Summary suspensions in one jurisdiction are honored in other racing states.
Hearings that were scheduled for Aug 2-3 have been continued, according to attorney Darrell Vienna, a former trainer who is representing Kearl and Sanchez.
“We're going to be seeking stays, injunctive relief this week (in civil court) for these unprecedented summary suspensions that never before have been applied in Texas,” said Vienna. “We believe they lack adequate legal foundation. The issue is simply: Do you suspend individuals without letting them utter a single word in their defense?”
The Kearl and Sanchez hearings have been consolidated, Vienna said.
Trent Rowell, attorney for Brian Stroud, said he would be filing an appeal with the Texas Racing Commission, and if that is denied seek a temporary restraining order in District Court in Travis County. “We have to go through administrative remedies first, then will be filing for a restraining order as quickly as we are allowed to do so,” Rowell said.
The summary suspensions were issued Monday by Texas Racing Commission stewards Anne Alley, Mike Pelletier and Fred Winch Jr.
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