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Horses disqualified for failed doping tests: The Spectrum & Daily News 4/20/12
RMTC

By Paul Delos Santos

Three horses slated to run in Saturday's Dixie Downs Derby and Futurity were found to have performance-enhancing drugs in their systems. The three horses have been scratched from the field and will not race.

Ivory Knight, Margaritas and Coronas and RGR Jungle Jock were tested following their victories - per regulations - at the Dixie Downs Derby and Futurity trials April 7, and the tests were shipped to a lab in Denver.

Don Randall, a member of the Lions Club and former trainer and Utah Racing Commissioner, said the results were received Monday and a hearing was conducted Wednesday where trainers Bret Vickery (Ivory Knight and Margaritas and Coronas) and Layne Sprouse (RGR Jungle Jock) were fined $200 per guilty horse.

"They were good about it," Randall said when asked how the trainers reacted.

Randall added Utah has some of the strictest rules when it comes to horse racing, adding that some supplements that might be legal in other states are illegal in Utah.

One of the legal supplements is Phenylbutazone, which is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug, and Furosemide, which is used to help horses avoid bleeding through the nose in races.

"You're not allowed much of anything," Randall said. "There's no tolerance on anything else."

Randall didn't elaborate on what was found in the horses, but fellow trainer Jason Palmer said that Ivory Knight was found with the drug Clenbuterol - a stimulant that helps in oxygen transportation.

"Regardless of what the drugs were, the reality is they got caught cheating," Palmer said.

Vickery admitted he was shocked to find out that his horses had failed the drug test.

"It's an unfortunate incident. It's just a black eye on the whole industry," he said. "I'm shocked by the situation. ... I don't want to elaborate. It's not good news."

Vickery's two other horses who won during the trials - Feature Miss Fame and Buzzed on Coronas - tested clean.

As for how the drugs could have found their way into the horses' bloodstream, Vickery was terse, stating, "Honestly, I think somebody got to them."

As for RGR Jungle Jock, Randall said Sprouse gave his horse a shot in the ankle to help it heal faster, and Sprouse thought the steroid would have cycled out before race day.

"They thought it was far enough that it'd be out of the system," Randall said. "They knew what happened."

Palmer, who had one horse race in the trials, was upset with the positive results, stating that doping stories need to be made public to raise awareness for both horse and rider safety.

He said there is inherent danger when giving a horse steroids because the heart can explode or a leg can give out, putting the rider in danger of being crushed by the large animal.

"There is no regard for a rider's life. There's no regard for a horse's life," Palmer said. "What frustrates me is that a horse doesn't have a choice because he takes in whatever he's fed.

"It's a horrific experience when you crash on a horse like that because you had no idea it was coming and you can't do anything about it."

Palmer, whose horse Tac it With Courage placed fifth in the race that Ivory Knight won, added that the late alternates are also at a disadvantage because they were always under the impression that the horses weren't going to race unless a horse was scratched.

Randall, however, said there shouldn't be an issue since the alternates - Buzzed on Coronas and DID Special Chic - in the Futurity are both Vickery's, and Mark Skeen's Bar Closer should be ready for Saturday's races.

"We lost two (in the Futurity) and two went in," Randall said.

As for RGR Jungle Jock, Randall said Sprouse gave his horse a shot in the ankle to help it heal faster, and Sprouse thought the steroid would have cycled out before race day.

"They thought it was far enough that it'd be out of the system," Randall said. "They knew what happened."

Palmer, who had one horse race in the trials, was upset with the positive results, stating that doping stories need to be made public to raise awareness for both horse and rider safety.

He said there is inherent danger when giving a horse steroids because the heart can explode or a leg can give out, putting the rider in danger of being crushed by the large animal.

"There is no regard for a rider's life. There's no regard for a horse's life," Palmer said. "What frustrates me is that a horse doesn't have a choice because he takes in whatever he's fed.

"It's a horrific experience when you crash on a horse like that because you had no idea it was coming and you can't do anything about it."

Palmer, whose horse Tac it With Courage placed fifth in the race that Ivory Knight won, added that the late alternates are also at a disadvantage because they were always under the impression that the horses weren't going to race unless a horse was scratched.

Randall, however, said there shouldn't be an issue since the alternates - Buzzed on Coronas and DID Special Chic - in the Futurity are both Vickery's, and Mark Skeen's Bar Closer should be ready for Saturday's races.

"We lost two (in the Futurity) and two went in," Randall said.





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