By Bill Finley
Saffie Joseph, Jr., the leading trainer at the current meet at Gulfstream Park, has been suspended for 15 days and fined $500 by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission after his trainee Artie's Princess (We Miss Artie) tested positive for the substance Gabapentin after her win in the GII Presque Isle Downs Masters S. on Sept. 19, 2022 at Presque Isle Downs.
The story was first reported by the Paulick Report.
According to the website Equinews.com, “Gabapentin has been used in horses for many years, and is often prescribed as adjunct therapy for horses with pain rising from laminitis, particularly as part of a multimodal approach to pain management.”
Joseph denied any wrongdoing and said he is appealing the ruling.
“I had never even heard of this medication and it was never used on that horse or any horse I've had,” he said. “We've never had it in the barn. I was completely shocked by this.”
According to a document from the Pennsylvania Racing Commission, which Joseph forwarded to the TDN, Artie's Princess was also tested the afternoon before the race and was negative “for the presence of foreign substances.” Joseph questioned how the same horse could test positive the next day when it had not had any further veterinary treatment.
“She was tested 24 hours before the race by the same Pennsylvania lab,” he said. “The horse was negative and was then positive the next day when no vet treated her. How is that possible? The proof is in the pudding.”
Joseph also said the horse tested positive at a level that should be considered below the recognized threshold level.
“The stewards had all the facts and they made a decision,” Joseph said. “They chose not to step up to the plate and did not make a decision based on the facts. I'm not denying what was there. But how did it get there? I don't know. If you follow the science and the studies that have been done, it shouldn't even be called a positive.”
Joseph asked for a split sample. The Texas A & M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed the positive finding.
Had he not appealed, Joseph's suspension would have run from June 5 through June 19, 2023.
The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission also ordered the disqualification of Artie's Princess and a redistribution of the purse. Café Society (Empire Maker) originally finished second in the race.
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