Monte Gelrod Latest Parx Trainer to Have Cobalt Positive

Monte Gelrod | Equi-Photo

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Parx-based trainer Monte Gelrod has been notified by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) that a horse he trains named Ratified (Constitution) tested positive for Cobalt after racing Feb. 19 at Parx. His suspension has been put on hold while HIWU awaits the results of a B sample test. If the B sample also shows the presence of Cobalt, Gelrod faces a suspension of up to two years.

Gelrod's positive was the second recorded at Parx in a short period of time. On Feb. 6, the Patricia Farro-trained Deplane (He's Had Enough) tested positive for the banned substance after winning a $7,500 claimer. As is the case with Gelrod, Farro has continued to train while HIWU awaits the results of the B sample.

Since HIWU took over the role of drug testing and issuing punishments against offending trainers, there have been three positives for Cobalt. The third trainer involved is Mario A. Dominguez, who had a horse test positive following a May 24 race, one that also took place at Parx. Dominguez's case has been resolved and he has received a two-year suspension.

Cobalt has been proven to stimulate the production of EPO and red blood cells in mammals which explains why some have turned to it as a potential performance-enhancer in horses. With greater blood cell production comes better endurance and decreased muscle fatigue.

Gelrod is a relative newcomer when it comes to Thoroughbred racing. Gelrod was a close associate of top Standardbred trainer Bill Robinson, who was banned at Woodbine Entertainment Group's tracks for more than 11 years for repeated drug violations. Gelrod trained Standardbreds on his own from 1991 to 2015 and won 676 races. According to a 2003 story in the Daily Racing Form, he received a five-year suspension in New Jersey after a fourth positive for milkshaking. He began training Thoroughbreds in 2023 and has amassed a career record of 4-for-20.

The case of Farro includes an unusual twist. The horse was claimed out of the race in which he tested positive by trainer Harold Wyner for owner John Fanelli and Longball Stables. HISA rules allow two business days for new owners to consider returning claimed horses to the previous connections after an alleged drug violation. Fanelli and Longball decided to keep the horse even though the horse itself is under a six-month suspension, the result of the Cobalt finding. The new owners ran him back Feb. 14, before the Cobalt positive was made public. He finished third in that race and the owners had to return the $4,928 they picked up in purse earnings because the horse should have been declared ineligible to run in the race.

Farro did not return a call from the TDN seeking comment.

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