I’m disappointed to say that I’ve been issued a ruling by the Kentucky Racing Commission for a medication positive with Kitten’s Point at Keeneland in April. Kitten’s Point tested above the legal limit for methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant, after her win in the Bewitch Stakes.
Also known as Robaxin, the medication is considered a controlled therapeutic substance by racing jurisdictions, including Kentucky, with a recommended withdrawal time of 48 hours. Kitten’s Point was last treated seven days before the race. She tested at 2.9 ng/ml of plasma, above Kentucky’s limit of 1.0.
After a stewards’ hearing this week, she was disqualified from the win and I was penalized with a $500 fine and a five-day suspension – my first medication violation in 23 years as a trainer. While I always realized the possibility of a violation despite the highest degree of diligence and understand the need for penalties, in these circumstances I am convinced that my staff and I followed all the required protocols and I plan to appeal the decision for a variety of reasons, all of which were presented at the stewards’ hearing.
First, there appears to be no research providing an accurate withdrawal period for a horse treated with Robaxin for an extended period of time.
Another concern was over the way Kitten’s Point’s sample was handled. Rightly so, trainers are held to extremely high standards by modern-day testing (samples can be tested to precise levels; a nanogram is a billionth of a gram, for example). Accordingly, racetracks and commissions should be held to the same high standards when it comes to the way our samples are handled.
While it would be easier to accept the suspension and pay the fine, I believe it’s important to follow through with the appeal process. This case points out a disturbing problem with medication policies in general, and highlights the challenges all trainers are facing with inconsistent guidelines and inadequate protocols.