Trainer William Morey has been suspended 45 days by California Horse Racing Board stewards who ruled that two horses in his stable at Santa Anita were illegally given race-day administration of a supplement called Blood Buffer.
According to the June 29 ruling, the horses Tick Tock and Gate Speed were scratched from their March 29 races after allegedly being given an oral administration of Blood Buffer.
Both horses were scratched and Santa Anita owner The Stronach Group reportedly told Morey he was no longer welcome to participate at the company's tracks. Morey has had no starters since the incident and many of the horses in his stable have been dispersed to other trainers.
The New York Times reported that California regulators were watching Morey's barn on surveillance video when an assistant trainer entered the stall of one of the horses scheduled to race that day. After the assistant left, a white foam was visible on the horse's lips, the Times reported, based on transcripts of the stewards hearing. Investigators then found an oral syringe in the bucket along with the supplement.
The assistant trainer, Miguel Delgado, was suspended 30 days by CHRB stewards.
Stewards ruled that Morey violated CHRB rule #1629 (Penalty For Late Declaration) and #1843.5 (Medication, Drug, and Other Substances Permitted After Entry in a Race – oral administration of “Blood Buffer” on race day).
Darrell Vienna, attorney for Morey, said he has filed a petition for reconsideration of the stewards ruling and has filed an appeal with the CHRB. He has not asked for a stay of the suspension.
Vienna contends the supplement given to the horses on race day is not prohibited but that the delivery – via an oral dose syringe within 24 hours of a race – is a violation of CHRB rules. Four previous cases involving similar circumstances (oral administration of supplements) with other trainers, Vienna said, resulted in fines but no suspension.
Morey's suspension runs from June 30 through Aug. 13. Delgado's suspension runs from June 30 through July 29.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly stated Morey was suspended because horses in his care were administered an alkalinizing agent on race day, commonly called milkshaking. The stewards ruling did not reference Blood Buffer as an alkalinizing or prohibited substance and there was no report of an overage above permitted levels of total carbon dioxide (TCO2) in testing, which would have constituted milkshaking. In addition, the version of Blood Buffer (formula #2) administered to the two horses did not contain sodium bicarbonates as stated in the original article but what the distributor calls “choice alternative buffers.”
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