By T. D. Thornton
A positive test for the Class B substance cannabidiol (CBD) in a filly who broke her maiden last summer at Ellis Park has resulted in a 30-day suspension and $500 fine for trainer W. Bret Calhoun.
Citing mitigating circumstances (“number of violations in relation to overall record”), the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) wrote in an Apr. 14 ruling that Calhoun would only have to serve ten days of his penalty between Apr. 14 and 23. The remainder of his suspension will be 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.”
Calhoun had waived his right to a formal hearing before the Ellis board of stewards, according to the ruling.
The owner, Allied Racing Stable, LLC (Chester Thomas) must also forfeit the winning share of the purse earned by the now-disqualified Touch Blue (Touch Gold), who was a 3-1 victress making her third lifetime start in a July 6, 2019, $7,500 maiden-claiming turf sprint. She subsequently won again at Remington Park, but has not raced again since that Oct. 25 NW2L score.
CBD is the second-most prevalent active ingredient in marijuana, but it is not a psychoactive component and it does not cause a high. In medical use, pure cannabidiol is widely known and administered as CBD oil, and it is often derived from the hemp plant instead of the marijuana plant.
Although the federal government considers CBD to be illegal and in the same class as marijuana, the prohibition is generally not enforced and CBD oil is widely available in all 50 states under varying degrees of legality. It is often used fo–but not definitively proven to aid–inflammation, anxiety and sleep difficulties in people.
According to the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
When the KHRC established a penalty classification for CBD in December 2018, Dr. Mary Scollay, then the KHRC's equine medical director, told the Lexington Herald-Leader, “It's a prohibited substance. There's no scientific evidence for use in horses” even though internet sites are “aggressively marketing it” for equine use.
Calhoun and Allied Racing Stable partnered to win the $200,000 Oaklawn S. last Saturday with 46-1 upsetter Mr. Big News (Giant's Causeway).