Trainer Gets Posthumous Metformin Positive

David Howard | Jim McCue


On May 21, the Horse Racing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) reported on its website that the filly Devil Pays in Gold (Uncle Lino) tested positive for the banned substance Metformin in a race contested on Mar. 8 at Laurel.

However, the ruling does not list a trainer, and for good reason. David Howard was listed as the trainer for the race, but he passed away seven days later, dying of a heart attack at age 45. He would not have known at the time that Devil Pays in Gold had tested positive.

“David Howard was the trainer of record when Devil Pays in Gold tested positive for metformin,” said HIWU's director of communications and outreach Alexa Ravit in an email. “Howard passed away later that month. Thus, the only potential sanctions for this case are the disqualification of race results and a period of ineligibility for the horse, which has already been completed.”

Metformin is used by humans to control Type 2 diabetes and is among the most widely prescribed drugs on the market. In several of the HWU cases involving Metformin, the connections have insisted that the positive was the result of environmental contamination.

Two weeks after Howard's passing, Devil Pays in Gold showed up in the Laurel entries racing for trainer Kieron Magee. She won the allowance race by 1 3/4 lengths for her new trainer. She has not run since the March 29 race.

According to the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association's newsletter, Howard was introduced to the racing industry by Magee, and then worked with horses in the barn of Amanda Rawlings before he obtained his trainer's license in 2021. On the same day that he passed away, he won a $12,500 claimer at Laurel with Thencomemorning (Friesan Fire) and, with the last horse he would send out, finished fifth in a maiden special weight race with Goldrush Hottie (Golden Lad).

Howard had 28 career winners from 250 starters.

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