By Bill Finley
The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission and the owners of Miss Inclusive (Include) have reached a compromise that has put an end to a controversy that arose after the filly tested positive for Clenbuterol following the running of the 2016 Parx Oaks and has resulted in there being two official winners of the $100,000 race.
The story was first reported by the Daily Racing Form.
Miss Inclusive crossed the wire a half-length in front of Eighth Wonder (Pioneerof the Nile) but was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for the drug. Miss Inclusive was one of three horses trained by John Servis that tested positive for Clenbuterol last spring. According to Servis's lawyer, Adrian King, there were no traces of the medication at all in the urine samples of the horses and Servis has said that he followed every protocol regarding withdrawal times. The positive tests were based on findings from blood tests and King said the levels found in those tests were below the threshold levels recommended by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
With evidence suggesting that Servis likely did not do anything wrong, the trainer and co-owner Dr. Lou Bucky contested the positives. They dropped their case after the commission agreed to reinstate Miss Inclusive as the winner of the race for record-keeping purposes, which will reinstate the “black type” on the filly's record. However, they still had to forego the winner's $60,000 share of the purse. The race now has co-winners, Miss Inclusive and Eighth Wonder.
The commission also amended its ruling regarding Servis, who was originally suspended 15 days. The suspension has been dropped and replaced with an $8,000 fine. Servis is also the co-owner of Miss Inclusive.
It is legal to train horses on Clenbuterol but the drug must be withdrawn within a reasonable time frame before a horse races.
“Mr. Servis respects and is fully supportive of the State Horse Racing Commission's role in ensuring the integrity of racing in Pennsylvania,” King said. “With all relevant circumstances taken into account, the SHRC's Amended Rulings represent a reasoned and justified compromise that includes disqualifications, fines and monetary penalties. It should be noted that the Amended Rulings are transmitted at a time when the horse racing industry is wrestling with the issue of increasingly more sensitive testing equipment being able to detect trace levels of permitted therapeutic substances that have no performance enhancing effects whatsoever. Mr. Servis is pleased with the fair and reasonable approach taken by the SHRC in these matters.”
Phone calls placed to the Pennsylvania Racing Commission were not returned yesterday.
Bucky, who races under the name of Main Line Racing Stable, had mixed feelings about the ruling.
“Our counsel said there has to be some comprise here and they were creative and came up with a reasonable compromise,” Bucky said. “Nonetheless, I think John Servis was penalized unfairly and Main Line Racing got hammered because our horse lost financially and there were a lot of legal costs involved. But we strongly believed this needed to be fixed and that's why didn't push this any further.”
Bucky acknowledged that regaining the black type for the now 4-year-old filly was an important factor. She has not won a stakes race since the Parx Oaks.
“Obviously, maintaining the black type will help a wonderful filly's residual value,” Bucky said.
Though the settlement ended this particular controversy, King said the Pennsylvania Racing Commission needs to rethink how it determines whether or not a horse has failed a drug test.
“The bigger issue is that they set the threshold level at zero,” King said. “How many years ago did they do that? The problem is that since that time the testing equipment has become so much more sensitive. In our opinion, zero is not a reasonable level. If the amount found in a test is so little that no one can reasonably conclude that it affected a horse's performance, then why are they still disqualifying horses for this? It ruins people's reputations, hurts racing's image and costs people money.”