Sign disqualified from Pocahontas victory due to positive test

by | 02.04.2013 | 10:37am
Sign wins Pocahontas Stakes

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has officially disqualified Sign from her first-place finish in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes last November at Churchill Downs, after the filly tested positive for methocarbamol. The Class C drug is commonly used in muscle relaxants.

Sign, a daughter of Pulpit, races as a homebred for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, and is trained by Al Stall Jr. The disqualification  elevates Gal About Town to the victory. The purse for the race will be redistributed accordingly. Stall was also fined $250.

Sign, who broke her maiden by 11 3/4 lengths at Saratoga last August, is currently on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a hind ankle. She is expected to return to action later in the summer.

David Royse, an attorney representing Claiborne Farm, issued the following statement in the wake of the ruling:

“Mr. Stall and the owners of SIGN respectfully but strongly disagree with the Stewards' Ruling. They plan to seek review at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as permitted by the Regulations.

“SIGN tested positive for a trace amount of Methocarbamol, a Class C medication. The evidence before the Stewards, in the form of sworn testimony by the trainer and the veterinarian, was that SIGN had never been administered this medication in training or her pre-race regimen. This was likewise reflected in the veterinary records voluntarily produced to the Stewards.

“As recognized by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Uniform Classification Guidelines, Methocarbamol (Robaxin) is an approved therapeutic medication for horses with a limited potential for impacting performance. The scientific evidence before the Stewards was that a trace amount of this medication (2.1 ng/ml) would have no impact whatsoever on the performance of the horse or the outcome of the race.

“The Stewards' decision to disqualify SIGN from a Grade 2 Stakes win and require her owners to forfeit the purse of $101,125 for a first offense Class C violation is a sharp departure from forty-three (43) Kentucky Stewards' rulings in the last three years in First Offense Class C violations where the only penalty was a $250 fine, and no purse forfeiture.

“Though not stated in the Ruling, the Stewards' decision appears to be premised on a misreading or misapplication of the Regulations as amended August 31, 2012, which clearly distinguish between penalties for Class A and B medication violations (which require disqualification of the horse and forfeiture of the purse) and the penalties for Class C medication violations (which do not mandate disqualification and forfeiture, and specifically require the Stewards to consider the seriousness of the particular Class C violation and any mitigating circumstances).”

  • Ida Lee

    My first few thoughts about this article I had to delete due to the unacceptable contents.  OK…took a deep breath…Sign is a wonderful filly. Now everything she does will be questioned  Mustle relaxer? I take a musle relaxer when needed and don’t feel a thing. So if Sign is injured (like she was), she would not feel it and keep going? Oh yeah I need to stop commenting cause it’s going to get ugly…

  • mark mcdermott

    This is a prime example of how the bettors get screwed.  The trainer is fined a measly $250, while thousands of dollars to holders of winning tickets on Gal About Town get nothing.  “The disqualification in no way affects pari-mutuel payoffs.”  Great way to treat the bettors. They should think seriously about suing owner, trainer, track and/or commission to put a stop to such nonsense.

  • Josh

    $250 is the real joke here… 

  • Concerned Observer

    What physical condition in a horse would need “methocarbamol”?

    Is it commonly used?

  • Charlie Davis

    Ouch, $250, that’s definitely enough to deter him from drugging his horses.  What a joke.  

  • Meyer1127

    She was drugged, eaced  and had to have surgery after the race.Way to go! Stall and the track,  should be fined for allowing only a slap on the wrist and for him to still be able to have access there.He proved he didn’t give a darn about the horse ,the jockeys or the public.They just keep slapping everyone in the face.Ridiculous. HANG YOUR HEADS KHRC.

  • ziggypop

    $250.00 for the trainer. That will show him.

    Yes, snark.

  • jane

    Muscle relaxer. Common name Robaxin.

  • RayPaulick

    There is a great deal more than $250 at stake here. The winner’s share of the purse ordered redistributed was in excess of $100,000, and a Grade 2 black-type victory with Sign’s kind of pedigree adds significant value to her future potential as a broodmare.

    Please read the entire statement from attorney David Royse, which has been added to our story.

  • Spencerrob

    It’s discouraging to see such uninformed posts in an industry publication. First it’s a class C drug because it doesn’t enhance performance. Second, the amount tested was so miniscule it wouldn’t have any effect on the horse. Be outraged by those who knowingly cheat and endanger the health of the horse and the humans – but be smart enough to know this is not the case here.

  • jorge

    WOW. WHOA!!!! Lawyered up

  • Jayprz42

     Drug is a drug!
    Muscle relaxer – Injured after the race? Can yo connect the dots? Doubt it!..You are blinded by your desire to appear smart and righteous!! People like you make want to puke!! 

  • ziggypop

     Thank you for taking time to respond to just my comment. There are several others that voice much the same, that were posted before mine. Should I feel special?

  • RayPaulick

    I am not a vet (obviously) but have been told by a racetrack practitioner it is sometimes used for horses that have exhibited back problems or soreness.

  • Stanley inman

    Go ahead and get it over with;
    Then we might be able to have a
    Reasonable conversation
    With one caveat;
    Unless you are in the barn with that horse-SIGN
    You have zero factual evidence
    To support your claim;
    So join the rest of us-cut them some slack
    Better still
    Go get a job at a track
    Where is Frank L
    When we need him

  • It has come to a point where a horse can’t receive a simple medication to help it with simple aches and pains… a human athlete would be able to take something if they were sore but a horse has to suffer 

  • Stanley inman

    Why did commission
    hammer owners
    With penalty?

  • Jd

    Al Stall Jr got caught.  Plain and simple.  He drugged a horse with a class C med and was caught.  Muscle relaxer is not an “aspirin.”  Do the crime, do the time.  Seems an open and shut case.

  •  I think it has just come to a point where it is not humane to race horses anymore if we can’t give them something when they are sick or sore.. racing needs to be shut down completely then 

  • SteveG

    The horse wasn’t drugged to race.  It’s ignorant to think that was the case here which is why I don’t get the outrage of some posters. There was a trace of 2.1 billionth of a gram/ml of a legal med.

    What’s significant is the forfeiture action in light of previous rulings for Class C overages.  It’s either a precedent setting ruling whereby future Class C overages will be subject to purse forfeiture or the stewards did, in fact, misapply the regs.

    Mr. Stall has had 3 minor overages in 8 years… a stellar record in these permissive times.

  • AmyA

    Please note that Sign won the race in question in October 2012 and didn’t get injured and have surgery until January 2013. It had nothing to do with the medication, which is a legal theraputic drug by the way. Did you even read the article and statement?

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    In animals we use it a lot to help with muscle soreness and sometimes for conditions where the animal might have some muscle spasm going on… for instance secondary to an injury. I’m not super familiar with its use in horses as I am only a small animal vet…but I can say that the dose I am accustomed to using in animals is one that does not knock them flat like it does us…it just helps with the spasm or soreness.  All that being said, I have to agree that the billionth of a gram reading here would have no effect on the horse as the concentration is way too low. it’s the main problem withthezero tolerance rule.

  • You know you really have no clue… a trace amount are you serious all that means is the horse may have been on robaxin and there is a certain withdrawl time period depending on horses metablolism it may linger in there system a billionth of a trace that no way affected the Performance of the horse. Maybe the horse was back sore yes to the ankle problem so what do you propse they do with racehorses xray every bone  in their body? Maybe we should just ask the horse where is your pain today and they will answer..

  • Fairweather Fan

    The trainer and vet deny ever giving the medication to the filly. Withdrawl times would be a moot point if it was never administered. Sounds like the trainer is taking a page from Lance Armstrong. Also a black eye for Claiborne and medication reform looks like Mr. Stall is gonna need a job shortly.

  • Sevencentsstable

    Injured 3 MONTHS after said race. So, a horse has a couple BILLIONTHS of a gram show up in Octiber and you just “KNOW” it caused her to get injured in January??


    Maybe, just maybe, you could go back to the article and read slowly, for comprehension this time?

  • And the beat goes on…

  • Smitty

    Imagine if Sheik Mohamed had won the race,and came up positive,and a Claiborne(Hay,Oats,and water) horse was second.I can imagine the diner conversation,about those Arabs cheating,and getting their due reward.

  • Jd

    Did he get caught or not?  Case closed.

  • Larry Ensor

    “The horse has been on the side lines since the race“, October, as stated in today‘s TDN. No works that I know could find. Which speaks for itself. And I don’t know if she trained there after. Yes, she had surgery for a condylar fracture of a hind leg last month. I am not passing judgment nor will I get into a diatribe with the armchair trainers.
    Your statement of “Injured 3 MONTHS after said race” doesn’t appear be correct based on the above facts. If you have facts otherwise fair enough please state them.

  • Meyer1127

    If the horse was in that much pain to need the meds,then why was it in training up to the race?If they need pain meds, then they should not be trained or work while they are hurting enough to have to use a pain killer to be able to exercise.

  • Comicalcat

    Seriously???  If you’ve got a fracture or a bone chip, are YOU going to want to take a muscle relaxer?  Really think that’s gonna help?

    Honestly, the amount is so miniscule it could have come from contamination in a used oral syringe or a paddle used to mix feed.

    I sure do want to puke…your lack of knowledge and your willingness to jump to conclusions is the mark of a complete idiot.  Glad I’m not in the same room.

  • Comicalcat

    And just what do you know about how much medication is necesssary to achieve theraputic effects?  Why would you jump to the conclusion that robaxin is used to treat pain? 

  • Sevencentsstable

    Well, one does not wait months after a condylar fracture to get surgery done. Horses very, very sledom come up with condylar fractures from their stalls. That would lead me to believe that the filly was in training in Decemer – January.

  • Meyer1127

    If theraputic medication is needed I would think there is a source of the need.A muscle relaxer stops discomfort does it not?If it is needed to stop that discomfort then there is a problem that  caused it.
    It has been deemed not allowed on race day for a reason.

  • Larry Ensor

    You may or may not be correct but a reasonable assumption. When I read a horse has been on the sidelines I assume that mean it is not in training. An assumption on both our parts. There are different degrees, severity of condylar fractures, medial or lateral. Most can be seen with a simple x-ray. And some are so subtle they will only show up with the use of nuclear scintigraphy. Which is not readily available for horses in most parts of the country.
    People tend to grasp at straws and blow things completely out of proportion as evident in this tread. Especially layman.
    A Steeplechase horse that I train ran in the Virginia Gold Cup, a “Grade 1” jump race, 2 years ago. He was on top by as much as 40 lengths making fools of the field. 2 jumps from home the jock eased him at the top of the stretch in front of 40,000+ people. Ran down to meet him and saw that he bowed. The horse ambulance was there and even though he could of easily have walked back to the barn I pulled his bridle and put him on the van. Walked down the stretch in front of the crowd gutted with bridle in hand. The next day I was getting emails and condolences for the death of my horse. Why, because people saw me walking with the bridle and not the horse and just assumed the worst. And not just laymen.

  • Sevencentsstable

    We are all guilty of making assumptions. I was making an assumption, as were you and I appreciate your willingness to discuss our different slants in a civilized manner. Thank you for that.

    While I will never deny that our industry, like most others, has need of changes and WILL change, I am not sure all changes will be truly “for the better,” but I am sure they will be “for a better public perception.” I am very upset by the power of public perception, especially when so  often the public yelling the loudest have absolutely no interest in educating themsleves and would rather rant and rave and feel quite self-righteous about it all. I also maintain that many of those yelling the loudest contribute nothing other than decibels to our industry. They don’t own, or breed, or train, or work in the industry, or even bet – yet I fear their upraised, indignant voices will be the ones to steer our industry. That is very frightening.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram