By Bill Finley
After a hearing before an arbitral body, trainer Jeffrey Poole has been hit with a 22-month suspension by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) after it was alleged that Poole possessed the banned substance Levothyroxine. He was also fined $10,000 and ordered to make a payment of $8,000 to cover arbitration costs.
Poole did not have a horse test positive for the substance.
Levothyroxine, commonly known by the trade name Thyro-L, is a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring hormone thyroxine.
Thyroxine is produced by the thyroid and works with the brain to control metabolism. It can be prescribed to older horses to correct hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid is underactive and the horse has an unusually slow metabolism. However, its use has raised concerns about potential risks that may come with artificially boosting the metabolism of a horse who doesn't need it and its use has been banned in some jurisdictions. Thyroxine overuse in racehorses was in the news in 2013 when the California Horse Racing Board launched an investigation into the sudden deaths of seven horses trained by Bob Baffert. Baffert told investigators at the time that he had horses in his care on thyroxine.
Once Poole was found to be in possession of the substance on June 2, he was provisionally banned by HIWU. His suspension was the first handed down by HIWU since it took over drug testing and the enforcement of penalties and suspensions on May 22. Poole's case is also the first to go through the arbitration process. Cases involving Anti-Doping Rules violations cases are heard by an Arbitral Body known as JAMS. Founded in 1979, JAMS describes itself as “the world's largest private alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider.”
Trainers who have been charged with violations on the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's list of banned substances face suspensions of up to two years. The 22-month suspension is the longest suspension handed out by HISA/HIWU thus far.
According to Equibase, Poole has been training off and on since 1989. He is 50-for-459 during his career and 3-for-41 in 2023. According to the Jockey Club's Thoroughbred Regulatory Ruling's website, Poole has no prior suspensions or fines on his record.
When reached by the TDN Poole declined to comment. At deadline for this story, his attorney Brad Beilly had not returned a hone calling seeking a comment.