One Horse, Two Scandals

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Not that the horse had a choice, but Masochistic now holds the dubious distinction of being the center of not one, but two racing scandals.

BloodHorse headlines this week documented the recommendation by the California Horse Racing Board Dec. 19 that Santa Anita Park stewards disqualify Masochistic from his runner-up finish in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5, following a positive post-race test for the anabolic steroid stanozolol (or its metabolite). The action would result in forfeiture of the $255,000 purse for owners William Shamlian's Los Pollos Hermanos Racing and Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stable and likely sanctions for trainer Ron Ellis.

Ellis said the final pre-race test indicated the stanozolol had not cleared Masochsitic's system but he still opted to start him, believing the level was minute enough that it would clear by race day.

Besides scrutiny of the trainer's actions, attention should be paid to the CHRB policy, which is not in agreement with the current model rule for horses on a vet's list for medication reasons. California policy requires horses to be on the list for 60 days if they are administered an anabolic steroid. That 60 days does not seem like enough time to accomplish the desired goal of keeping anabolic steroids out of racing.

Also, the current model rule, not in place in California, is a better standard, as it requires a horse to test below the threshold level before allowing race entry. The threshold level for stanozolol is 0.

Beyond that, according to CHRB officials, California privacy rules didn't allow the CHRB's equine medical director, Dr. Rick Arthur, to communicate to anyone but the trainer of the horse that tested positive for stanozolol in its final pre-race test. To ensure integrity, the equine medical director should have the ability to raise any medication concerns to stewards, the track, and Breeders' Cup officials as necessary.

Perhaps the upcoming stewards' hearing on the matter scheduled Dec. 30 at Santa Anita will shed more light.

Going forward, the Association of Racing Commissioners International board approved new out-of-competition testing rules that would require a horse be out six months following an anabolic steroid administration. If adopted by California and other states, that change would more effectively keep anabolic steroids out of racing.

Before this black eye on the sport, Masochistic was previously involved in what at least one Kentucky Horse Racing Commissioner believed was a betting coup on Kentucky Derby day 2014.

Then owned by Los Pollos Hermanos Racing and A.C. Avila's Santa Ines Stable and trained by Avila, Masochistic finished fifth in his March 2014 debut at Santa Anita, where he tested positive for the sedative acepromazine and his jockey, Omar Berrio, was investigated for stiffing. In his next start, Masochistic rolled to a 14-length maiden victory on the Derby day undercard at Churchill Downs.
Then Kentucky commissioner Ned Bonnie thought the connections may have purposely thrown the first race then--taking advantage of the larger Derby day pools--executed a betting coup. Listed at long morning-line odds Derby day, Masochistic went off at 2-1 and returned $6.20 to win.

While $6.20 to win may not sound like much, to Bonnie's thinking, if large wagers had been made on Masochistic to win on a routine race day in Southern California, he may have gone off at 3-5. Running on the Derby undercard allowed for a bigger score.

Ultimately, Kentucky decided the problem fell in California's lap. The CHRB suspended Avila 60 days for the medication violation and fined him $10,000. Berrio was not sanctioned.

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