Trainer Saldana Suspended Two Years, Fined $25k After Losing Banned Substance Arbitration Hearing

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Reed Saldana, a Los Alamitos Race Course-based trainer who has been licensed since 2017, has been penalized with a two-year suspension and a $25,000 fine after a Dec. 6 Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) arbitration judgment found him to be in violation of a banned substance rule. This resulted from a positive test for diisopropylamine in one of his trainees, Ice Queen (Cairo Prince), who finished third in a Santa Anita Park starter-allowance on June 16.

Saldana is also on the hook for $12,000 toward HIWU's share of the arbitration costs that resulted from his request for a hearing.

Arbitrator Jeffrey Benz further wrote in his ruling that the connections of the mare (owner 5th Street Stables) must forfeit the disqualified $4,560 in purse winnings.

Saldana, 41, who rode as a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse jockey between 2007 and 2011 prior to his licensure as a trainer, did not engage an attorney for his hearing and could not be reached for comment prior to deadline for this story. It is unclear if he intends to appeal the arbitration result to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) administrative law judge, which is the next option for covered persons who wish to contest HIWU arbitration results.

Diisopropylamine is a vasodilator listed as a banned substance by HIWU, which means it can never be found in a covered racehorse. It lacks Food and Drug Administration approval.

Among Saldana's arguments presented at his Nov. 1 hearing were 1) That there was no proof he gave diisopropylamine to Ice Queen; 2) Hand sanitizer containing the prohibited substance was allegedly found and used in the test barn; 3) That there was allegedly accidental contamination by the test barn personnel; 4) That there were issues with the chain of custody during the testing process, and 5) That diisopropylamine is not a vasodilator but is a “secondary amine.”

According to the arbitrator's ruling, Saldana also submitted the following statement for consideration:

“The evidence HIWU has presented is very lacking. NO integrity, NO security, NO proof that the urine sample actually was collected properly, stored correctly or even transported securely. This urine sample MUST be INADMISSIBLE and case needs to be dismissed, to continue to proceed is just a travesty,” Saldana stated.

“We are in a country where we are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the evidence shows no proof of guilt. HIWU has failed to demonstrate Burden of Proof in this matter. HIWU has claimed that Diisopropylamine is a vasodilator when in fact by scientific proof it is not, it is an amine. These false claims and misclassification by [the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act] of Diisopropylamine have cost me my livelihood, has caused stress, emotional, monetary and repetitional damage that I can't ever get back, to continue would just be [an] injustice,” Saldana stated.

After taking testimony from both parties, the arbitrator sided with HIWU's recommended penalties for a first-time anti-doping “presence” finding. Benz noted the key factors in his decision.

“Mr. Saldana argues that alleged errors made in collecting and analyzing Ice Queen's Sample should result in its disqualification,” Benz wrote. “His allegations are vague and unparticularized. The only specific alleged deficiency in the sample collection or custody for Ice Queen was that the Nominated Person was prevented from seeing the collection of Ice Queen's urine…

“HIWU could certainly do a better job of ensuring that the written chain of custody documentation is clearer and that the labs are required to uniformly handle chain of custody issues and documentation,” the arbitrator continued. “Having said that, Mr. Saldana's obligation was to show that the irregularities in the chain of custody that he claims were present had some effect on the outcome of the testing and he was unable to make that showing…

“With respect to his allegation that Mr. Saldana's Nominated Person was prevented from entering the testing barn to observe Ice Queen pass urine, there is no specific requirement in this regard,” Benz wrote.

“In addition, Mr. Saldana's argument that Diisopropylamine is not a vasodilator by virtue of being a secondary amine is false,” Benz wrote.

“As explained by [Dr. Lara Maxwell, a veterinarian and pharmacology professor who testified on behalf of HIWU], drugs such as Diisopropylamine can be classified both in terms of their chemical structure and their pharmacological or medicinal effects on the body.

Diisopropylamine is classified as a secondary amine due to its chemical structure. It is also considered a vasodilator due to its general pharmacological effect, i.e., causing blood vessels or open or dilate. There is nothing inconsistent about the simultaneous application of both categories, which address entirely different properties of Diisopropylamine,” Benz wrote.

“Lastly, and despite the irrelevance of a substance's effects on the Covered Horse to any argument on liability, as addressed by Dr. Maxwell, Diisopropylamine is known to have a performance-enhancing potential in horses due to its status as a vasodilator, which expands blood vessels and 'temporarily decreases the work of the heart.'

“Mr. Saldana also advanced a theory that hand sanitizer used by the [testing personnel] could have caused the positive result found in the Sample because hand sanitizers often contain the prohibited substance found here,” the arbitrator continued. “He adduced no evidence on this point, and HIWU's evidence to the contrary was compelling.”

“First, the evidence was unrefuted that the hand sanitizer used in the testing barn and all relevant areas for the Sample's journey to the refrigerator and the next day to the laboratory did not contain the Diisopropylamine,” Benz wrote.

“Second, the evidence was unrefuted that the [personnel] did not use hand sanitizer and instead used surgical gloves when collecting samples.”

“Third, HIWU's expert Dr. Maxwell testified, on an unrefuted basis, that the active ingredient in hand sanitizer is ethanol and had the horse been contaminated with hand sanitizer not only would it have required a large amount of hand sanitizer to yield the levels of Diisopropylamine found here but ethanol would also have been found in the sample and it was not found here.”

“Accordingly, the Arbitrator finds that hand sanitizer contamination was simply not possible here, and certainly not at all likely,” Benz wrote.

Saldana's career training record is 88 wins and $2.5 million in earnings from 656 starts. His last entrant was on July 1, and through the first half of 2023 Saldana posted a 7-10-9 record from 61 starters.

The Thoroughbred Regulatory Rulings database maintained by The Jockey Club shows two prior drug-related entries for Saldana: A Class 4 phenylbutazone violation in a third-place horse that resulted in a $500 fine at Santa Anita in 2022, and a Class 3 clenbuterol positive that resulted in the disqualification of a winner (but no fine) in 2020 at Los Alamitos.

Saldana's suspension, unless overruled at the FTC level, will run through Aug. 5, 2025.

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