By Bill Finley
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has begun serving a 15-day suspension handed down by the Ohio Racing Commission after a horse he trained tested positive for the prohibited medication hydrochlorothiazide. The suspension began Feb. 6 and runs through Feb. 20. McGaughey was also fined $500.
The test came from a Sept. 9, 2019 race at Belterra Park and with the mare Tactical Affair (Tapit). Tactical Affair, who is owned by Phipps Stable, won the Sept. 9 allowance race, but has been disqualified and placed last.
According to Bill Crawford, the executive director of the Ohio State Racing Commission, McGaughey, after receiving news of the positive, appealed, requested a split sample and that DNA testing on the sample also be done. Once the split sample also revealed the presence of the drug, McGaughey dropped his appeal.
Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic and is used in humans to combat high blood pressure.
McGaughey told the Paulick Report that he had no knowledge of how the drug got into the horse's system.
“Basically, it was a stable mistake,” McGaughey said. “I'm taking the blame for it and doing my days. Obviously, we weren't trying to give anything to the horse. It's one of those things that happens.”
During his suspension, McGaughey's horses will run under the name of his assistant trainer, Robert Medina.
McGaughey has a spotless reputation within the industry and he, along with he Phipps family, has often called on the sport to tighten its rules regarding drugs. The thoroughbredrulings.com website lists McGaughey with only two infractions since 2014, neither of which involved drug positives and resulted in small fines.