By T. D. Thornton
Trainer Steve Asmussen will be appealing two Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) rulings for acepromazine positives dating to 2018 that were handed down this week.
That means North America’s current second-winningest trainer has been granted a stay of the 90 days in suspensions and $3,500 in fines that were meted out as penalties.
“I got a call [Tuesday] night from Clark Brewster, his attorney, which indicated to me that they were going to appeal it,” Marc Guilfoil, the KHRC executive director, told TDN Wednesday afternoon. “They asked for a stay and were granted a stay.”
Acepromazine, a tranquilizer, is listed as a Drug/Penalty Class 3B on the Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances list maintained by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI). The KHRC threshold limit for acepromazine is 10 ng/ml in urine.
According to the two KHRC stewards’ rulings, Asmussen was suspended 30 days and fined $1,000 after acepromazine metabolites that tested at 76 ng/ml were detected in the urine of 7-10 favorite Thousand Percent (Goldencents), who won the second race, a $50,000 maiden claimer, at Churchill Downs on June 28, 2018.
On Oct. 25, 2018, when Boldor (Munnings) won his 2-year-old debut at 4-1 in a Keeneland Race Course MSW, his urine tested positive at 17.7 ng/ml for acepromazine metabolites. The KHRC ruling considered this positive a second offense, and accordingly upped Asmussen’s penalties for this infraction to 60 days and a $2,500 fine.
But the rulings also explained that Asmussen was to have the larger of his two suspensions sliced in half, by means of 30 days being “stayed on the condition that no Class A or Class B medication violation occurs in any racing jurisdiction within 365 days from the date of this ruling.” In addition, the rulings said Asmussen would be allowed to serve his two 30-day suspensions concurrently (Dec. 20-Jan. 18).
Now Asmussen won’t have to sit out any suspension days or pay any fines pending the adjudication of his appeal. Guilfoil added that the hearing date is in the process of being scheduled.
Asmussen currently ranks both second in North American wins (407) and purse earnings ($26.3 million) for 2019.