Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is serving a 15-day suspension for a medication violation in Ohio that occurred at Belterra Park near Cincinnati last Sept. 9 when the Phipps Stable's Tactical Affair tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a Class 4 drug recommended for a B penalty under the guidelines of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
McGaughey was also fined $500 and Tactical Affair – a Tapit filly who had broken her maiden at Belterra Park 16 days earlier – was disqualified from the allowance race win and placed last. The $10,440 winner's share of the purse was redistributed. Tactical Affair has not raced since Sept. 9.
Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic commonly used to treat edema or high blood pressure in humans. Tactical Affair was treated with the diuretic Lasix, according to the Equibase chart.
The official ruling said the urine sample also contained chloraminophenamide.
The drug was detected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture Analytical Laboratory and a split sample sent at McGaughey's request to the University of Illinois at Chicago Analytical Forensic Testing Laboratory confirmed the finding. Bill Crawford, executive director of the Ohio State Racing Commission, said McGaughey appealed the ruling pending results of DNA testing on the sample, which went to Bureau Veritas Laboratories in Ontario, Canada. That lab confirmed the sample as coming from Tactical Affair and the appeal was subsequently dropped on Feb. 4, said Crawford. He added the quantitative analysis estimated 6 nanograms per milliliter of the prohibited substance. There is no permissible levels for hydrochlorothiazide in post-race tests in Ohio, according to the original ruling, dated Oct. 29, 2019.
For McGaughey, according to an article in Sports Illustrated, this was his second suspension for a medication violation since he took out his trainer's license in 1978. In 1983, the filly Adreamer tested positive for the local anesthetic procaine while racing at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving Day. He received a 10-day suspension. Inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 2004, McGaughey has had 9,873 career starts, 2,087 wins and his horses have earned over $150 million.
“Basically, it was a stable mistake,” McGaughey said of the Ohio ruling. “I'm taking the blame for it and doing my days. Obviously, we weren't trying to give anything to the horse. It's one of those things that happens.”
The suspension, which Crawford said follows ARCI guidelines, is effective Feb. 6 through Feb. 20. Two horses from the stable ran at Gulfstream Park over the Feb. 8-9 weekend in the name of trainer Robert Medina.
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