In Wake of His Horse’s Death, Rudy Rodriguez Fined for Illegal Drugging

On December 10, Sage Valley dropped dead of an “apparent cardiac arrest” in a race at Aqueduct. At five, he was only just reaching the tail-end of puberty. Turns out, there was a drug “violation,” which may or may not have contributed to the horse’s premature death. This week, Sage Valley’s trainer, Rudy Rodriguez, received the following “punishment” from the NYS Gaming Commission:

“You are fined $3000.00 because on December 10, 2014, the horse ‘Sage Valley’ that you trained competed in the 8th race at Aqueduct Racetrack after having been administered glycopyrrolate (e.g. robinul) within 96 hours of the scheduled post time of its race in violation of New York State Gaming Commission rule 4043.2 (g) (6) and 4043.4. Having waived your right of appeal the fine is reduced to $1500.00. This penalty is reflective of the findings from the investigation.”

Apparently, the vet, Greg Bennett, was fined the same amount. In a statement, Bennett said, “Rudy had quite a few horses coughing and snotting in the barn, and he was near them. I was under the assumption it was a 72-hour [drug]. It was an error in judgment on my part…” “Coughing and snotting” barn-mates.


By the way, Rudy Rodriguez is no stranger to the Commission, having just been fined and suspended in February for violations involving two different horses. In all, I count 13 suspensions in NY over the course of Rudy’s career. 13. And yet still allowed around horses. Surprised? Shouldn’t be – this is, after all, horseracing.

Subscribe and Get Notified of New Posts


  1. Rodriguez and his ilk are despicable and so is the business they operate in. An occasional paltry fine is the only consequence for criminal behavior while they are recognized for their outstanding number of wins !!
    What other business not only tolerates but “rewards” outright cheating and outrageous animal cruelty? This is a very sick, ugly game.

  2. In my opinion, the drug administered caused the cardiac arrest and therefore Rodriguez killed this horse, it’s as simple as that.
    “You are fined $3000.00 because on December 10, 2014, the horse ‘Sage Valley’ that you trained competed in the 8th race at Aqueduct Racetrack after having been administered glycopyrrolate (e.g. robinul) within 96 hours of the scheduled post time of its race in violation of New York State Gaming Commission rule 4043.2 (g) (6) and 4043.4. Having waived your right of appeal the fine is reduced to $1500.00. This penalty is reflective of the findings from the investigation.”

    Amazingly, in the above statement there is no disclosure that SAGE VALLEY died in a race on December 10, 2014. Very conveniently and, in my view, deliberately omitted by the New York Racing Commission. And a pathetic fine of $3,000 is reduced to $1,500?

    And of course it was AQUEDUCT again! The racetrack (in the beautiful city of New York) that you go to, to watch horses meet their deaths.

    RUDY RODRIGUEZ continues on with the business of abusing racehorses, despite the fact that he’s been found guilty of race violations against horses 13 times? Just goes to show that the Commission condones such cruelty and abuse of the racehorse, the racing industry’s much “loved” athletes.

    The following appears on the NYRA website
    “Ethics are very important to NYRA. NYRA urges you to please report ethics issues or concerns to NYRA’s Ethics Officer by email……”


    • Look and see who R.R. Trains for,who are his owners? Just one off the top of my head,presents an egregious conflict of interest. Micheal Dubb,he sits on the NYRA board of directors. How much more suspicious and shameful can one organization be.At least the Mafia has the decency to try to hide their indiscretions

  3. May I ask you to cite your sources substantiating your comment about 5 years old being the end of a horse’s puberty strongly indicating your belief horses are running at too young an age.

  4. The Paulick Report was just a wealth of information yesterday…there were several articles that were incriminating of the very industry Paulick supports and benefits from.

    Don’t miss this article, titled “Detection Of New Synthetic Drug Disturbing But Less Problematic Than Dermorphin”. Oh but don’t become too concerned…here, from the article:

    “The finding of the drug, called AH-7921, may be unsettling, but experts say the substance is nothing new, and it isn’t likely to become the next big thing with cheaters.” All right then. Nothing new. And not a favorite of the cheaters. Thank goodness.

    And you must check out the comments!…more self-incrimination! From Barry Irwin (founding member/president of Team Valor) regarding this new pain-killing and illegal drug: “Tip of the iceberg.”

  5. Thanks for the link, Joy. This is a disturbing article and the comments….

    The industry thinks nothing of pumping all sorts of drugs into them with absolutely no regard for the safety, health and well-being of the horse. Experimenting with substances like snake venom, frog secretion, jungle/elephant juice, Cobalt, to name just a few and now this AH-7921drug is the latest.

    The racing industry has no shame.

  6. In the vein of this piece – “punishment” for breaking racing’s “rules” – take a look at what Ramon Preciado does when HE is “disciplined” for positive tests…he appeals the ejection (from Parx), receives a stay and then SUES. I just cannot fathom the arrogant entitlement of these abusers. From the PR, titled “Six Preciado Horses Disqualified From Parx Victories After Testing Positive For Clenbuterol”; “Preciado appealed the ejection and received a stay of the order three days later. On April 26, Preciado sued both Walter Remmert, executive director of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, and Sam Elliott, the Parx Racing racing secretary, saying his due process rights were violated.”

    And what about the HORSES’ rights?

    As always, don’t miss the comments. I am nearly always amazed at the dirt these racing lovers reveal.

    • I am not surprised something like this would happen Joy. As always these trainers will do just about anything to shift responsibility away from themselves. This guy is disgusting and of course he doesn’t care about the horses who are voiceless in all of this because he is a selfish, greedy animal abuser. He and many others should be banned for life and never allowed to touch another horse.
      This is why the horse racing industry has to end. Too many innocent horses being abused and slaughtered for greed.

    • Joy, love your accurate comment “arrogant entitlement,” and it’s on full display throughout the industry from bottom to top.
      After the arrogant entitlement, the irresponsibility often follows.
      These 2 factors alone results in racehorses dying in the dirt or being physically/mentally maimed beyond help.
      This has to be one of the most extreme animal abuse industries currently operating with total impunity most of the times.
      This industry is a cruelty circus, and a death camp for the racehorses who have more class in one inch of their hoof than most of the connections who support, and participate in this despicable abyss of endless pain, and suffering for these majestic, and sentiment beings.

  7. Speaking of pain and suffering,there was a horse on the NYRA circuit Owned by Bill Parcell’s and trained byGary Sciacca,his name was SARATOGA SNACKS.This horse was being forced to race on two previous fractured legs (LEFT FRONT and RIGHT FRONT) and the horse I’m assuming was in pain because he could not walk after his races.I had reported this (what I consider animal abuse) Mr. Byrne at the New York Gaming Commission,and I knew there was little concern because he seemed very protective of Gary Sciacca and defended him .I also asked Mr. Byrne ,SARATOGA SNACKS broke down twice ,vanned off , HOW DID SARATOGA SNACK’S avoid the VET’S LIST on each of these separate occassion’s. Guess What? Mr. Byrne had no answer.This notification took place in May 2015 .SARATOGA SNACK’S raced through May 2016 ,when he was entered and scratched,I haven’t seen him since.I hope Sciacca is not bringing back a third time he needed six month’s off for each previous break,he’s only got two leg’s left.Where is SARATOGA SNACK’S ? Was he retired,Is he coming back,or was he EUTHENIZED? I believe it was Bill Mott who said SARATOGA SNACK’ should be retired and that was two year’s ago I could be mistaken,I don’t think so. where is SARATOGA SNACK’S? What happened,if there was a lack of transparency when he got injured what’s going to happen if it’s worse,especially after NY Gaming Commission was notified.This could potentially be a despicable cover up,I hope not !

    • Thanks for sharing this story Steven.
      This story is so sad, and so typical of many racehorses (like SARATOGA SNACK) who are training, and racing on multiple serious pre-existing injuries such as fractures.
      This exemplifies the need for MANDATORY release of vet records for all racehorses who are training, and racing on a track.
      They have nobody watching out for them when vet records are being kept secret. If they cared so much about the racehorses then this change would have been implemented a long time ago.
      By not releasing vet records, they are protecting the ongoing doping, cruelty, and abuse.
      In a country where small animal vets insist on reviewing previous medical records to ensure the ongoing continuity and non-duplication of treatment – this industry denies even the basic care to these racehorses.
      The racehorses have little or no NEUTRAL oversight – little or no protection from the ongoing abuse and/or repetitive invasive procedures. There’s no continuity of care when changing hands.
      This is all contrary to this image they portray or the delusion that they perpetuate.
      This is precisely why the industry fights hard to ensure that the medical records are not released because, by golly, there are such a high rate of racehorses running with previous serious issues that wouldn’t even allow for a companion horse let alone a racehorse!
      Chris Tuttle stabled next to me at the Ft. Erie racetrack in 2001 was running racehorses with BROKEN KNEES while denying them hay! He thought it was funny, and was backed up by high level members of the government and racing officials. Some of them owned horses in his racing stable. He could do no wrong. They permitted this to go on full well knowing the extent of the cruelty taking place right beside me. I can’t count the number of times I complained, but that’s where my troubles began.
      His vet, Dr. Gay, from Buffalo NY was openly administering EPO to Tuttle’s racehorses.
      They were known to go to the Kill Auctions, pick up a horse for $200, needle it with EPO and win lots of money. These horses were BURNED OUT after 3 races at which time they would dump them. It was a never ending turnstile of crippled, and broken horses.
      The HBPA knew about it, and DEFENDED him!
      So the abuse is so accepted that it continues to this day under the delusion that they are taking care of the horses.
      I was a previous Trainer and I can tell you that there are certain Trainers who literally get away with murder. That’s what I call it only the victim is a racehorse instead of a person.
      This industry is so corrupt that they let these Trainers get away with it as long as they continue to be silent while they use, abuse, dope, maim, and kill racehorses. This is necessary in order to fill races, and bring money into the wagering windows.
      It’s no stretch to say that racehorses are dying for $2 bets.
      The industry doesn’t want to change one iota.
      The truth of the matter is they can’t change because the fundamental business model is the exploitation of a racehorse for profit.
      With profit being the main goal, the racehorse becomes a pawn in a Russian Roulette game of endless doping to mask problems to maiming to dying.
      I’m so sad to say that this is one cover-up of many.
      I saw so much going on, so many cover-ups going on in the stable areas of all racetracks, and at prestigious training centers.
      I found out, rather quickly, that a Trainer must remain silent, uphold the ongoing cruelty, and abuse in order to stay in the game.
      That’s why I don’t support anybody who participates in this industry at any level.

  8. One of the side effects of Rubinol is cardiac arrhythmia ( irregular heart beats ) which could very well cause the horse to drop dead especially with the demands put on his heart while racing.
    The vet. should never have given that drug to the horse especially before a race. He and Rudy got away much too lightly…..but then they all do .
    Shame on all the commissions and their blatant lack of serious concern for integrity and the welfare of the horse.

  9. One of the most egregious and abusive acts of animal cruelty,came from the owner/trainer combination of HALL OF FAME FOOTBALL COACH BILL PARCELLS and Trainer GARY SCIACCA in my humble opinion they ABUSED the hell and drained every last ounce of blood and penny they could out of the hard trying horse SARATOGA SNACKS. In my opinion these two hacks did not deserve to have a horse like SARATOGA SNACKS. These two forced this horse to race on two previously fractured legs and continued to do so even though the poor horse could not walk after his races . All for the money? On two separate occassion’s this horse broke down on the training track in the morning and after being off six months after each fracture he was forced to race again . And after each fracture Parcell’s ,Sciacca and the New York State Gaming Commission managed to keep this information on these two fractured front legs out of their Equine Death and Injury Database . Didn’t NYRA organize a SPECIAL TASK FORCE to oversee this situation .What does NYRA and HILLARY CLINTON have in common ? I had explained this horrible (in my opinion)a torture chamber for this horse situation to Mr. TERRY BYRNE of the NYS GAMING COMM. and though I did not expect any better he defended these two hacks. MR. BRYNE I believe is the field officer in charge of what I consider crime against a helpless,defenseless animal these TWO CLOWNS are TYPICAL BULLIES. Is there going to be a cover up between the Gaming Comm.,Parcell’s and Sciacca when SARATOGA SNACK’S breaks down again because you know and everybody reading know’s this horse will eventually meet a nasty violent death .It will happen there is no question in my mind ,are these people intentionally trying to break this down .If not ,could’a fooled me . If he has to EUTHENIZED do you really think that information will available in the NYS GAMING COMM. DATABASE ? I do not think it will be available.When he broke his legs there was no entry , if he die’s due to EUTHENIZATION there ain’t NO MOTHERF…… WAY it’s going to ENTERED in the NYS EQUINE DEATH and INJURY DATABASE ! These THREE in my opinion should be prosecuted and booted from the horse business and if they or caught having anything to do with horse’s ,MAJOR FINES and JAIL TIME, this really should be looked into . There’s ONE SMALL problem they POLICE THEMSELVES!

  10. What seems to be the problem with racing officials? Reduced fine and horse dead, whether drug caused death or not, when are you, yes you racing officials going to stand up and say enough is enough? The poor horse can’t. Why can’t you stop with the little petty smack on the wrist fines and induct stronger penalty? Like 3 strikes you’re gone. Actually should be 2 imo. If weren’t for the horses, where would you be?

  11. One of Rudy Rodriguez’s horses just died at Belmont today. On the track. Deft. This is 2 dead horses in claiming races so far at Belmont since it opened. Whenever a horse self destructs, I always look up the trainers criminal record and any articles about him.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: