$5K Multiple Medication Fine For Miller

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Peter Miller | Horsephotos

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Trainer Peter Miller has been fined $5,000 and assessed one half (1/2) point in accordance with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) multiple medication violations rule as a result of Mr. Dougie Fresh (Ghostzapper) testing positive for phenylbutazone after working at San Luis Rey Downs on Sept. 13, according to a Los Alamitos board of stewards ruling Sunday.

Phenylbutazone–more commonly referred to as just “bute”–is a class 4, category C drug. This constituted Miller's third class 4 medication violation in California in 365 days.

On Sept. 2, Miller was fined $1,500 and assessed one half point in accordance with the CHRB's multiple medication violations rule as a consequence of Mo Forza (Uncle Mo) testing positive for phenylbutazone after working at San Luis Rey Downs June 19, 2021.

Mo Forza subsequently won a brace of GII races at Del Mar and Santa Anita–the Del Mar Mile S. and the City of Hope Mile S.

On April 10, Miller was fined $500 after Hembree (Proud Citizen) tested positive for Isoflupredone, a 4C penalty regulated drug, after winning the seventh race at Santa Anita Park Jan. 1.

When asked about the three class 4 medication violations this year, Miller pointed to California's relatively recently instituted out of competition medication regulations.

“Two of the violations were in morning workouts, that wouldn't have been violations in any other state in the country,” he wrote.

Last month, Miller announced that he was taking a hiatus from training, in order to spend “more time with his family, focus on overall health and wellness, and pursue other interests.”

The hiatus, which according to a press release started Nov. 29, is expected to leave the everyday running of the barn in the hands of his assistant, Ruben Alvarado. Miller, however, will still maintain an advisory position along with his role as an owner, the release stated.

According to Equibase, Miller has no horses entered under his name. He did, however, claim Manhattan Up (Into Mischief) out of the Robertino Diodoro barn for $50,000 at Oaklawn Park on Sunday. Miller is listed as the new trainer.

For the past three years–and in light of the 2019 Santa Anita welfare crisis–the state's regulatory agency has markedly tightened the rules surrounding equine safety, placing an emphasis on the role of trainer responsibility.

As such, speculation had been mounting for some time that Miller has been the target of increased regulatory scrutiny due to five horses in his care suffering catastrophic injuries during 2021–the highest number of any single trainer in California this year.

Miller addressed those rumors in the press release, stating that his decision had not been triggered by any outside regulatory pressure.

As per the Oaklawn claim, Miller wrote in his text, “We are sending a string to Arkansas but will run under an assistant.”

Miller also addressed via text the equine fatalities he has incurred during a 12-month period. He wrote that the fatalities were “100% unavoidable,” which included three horses that incurred catastrophic shoulder injuries after layoffs. These specific injuries are often difficult to diagnose.

“Perfectly sound horses and my first and only heart attack in 35 years training,” he wrote, pointing also to Rustic Canyon (Unusual Heat), a 6-year-old gelding who suffered a sudden cardiac death during training at San Luis Rey on Feb. 26.

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