Some recent rulings…

In New Jersey, driver/trainer Jacob Cutting was “sanctioned” for the presence of oxycodone and oxymorphone in his horse Paloma Ruiz at Freehold last February. The sanction: 7-day suspension. 7 days.

In Ohio, trainers Bill Rhoades and Herman Hagerman were busted for methamphetamine positives in their horses – Sheswildnfree and Dashintothebeach N, respectively – at Northfield in November. While each was suspended for a year, one must ask, where’s the death penalty (metaphorically speaking, of course)? It’s meth.

In West Virginia, a sample from 3-year-old Lucylou Who at Charles Town January 14 contained benzoylecgonine – the main metabolite of cocaine. Lucy’s trainer, Emanuel Geralis, declined split testing. In other words, guilty. The stewards, however, found “mitigating factors”: the small amount detected and Geralis’ relatively good record. So, they determined this was “inadvertent exposure,” with no penalties for the trainer. The horse, though, was disqualified – Lucy, shock, finished first by over six lengths – “to ensure the integrity of racing and to instill confidence in the betting public.” Unsaid (if truly inadvertent) was who exactly was doing coke around the horses.

And finally, in Louisiana, jockey Gerard Melancon was merely fined – no suspension – $500 for “striking his mount 11 times, 5 over the max” at Fair Grounds January 14. The “mount,” Easy Aces, came in 4th, “winning” 900 bucks in the process, so maybe it was all worth it (at least for the trainer and owner).

This is horseracing.

The following rulings at Freehold Raceway have been published by the NJ Racing Commission. (Although most of the violations are older, hearings were only just held.)

5-year-old Betziesbookinit tested positive for oxymorphone and oxycodone [opioids] on Nov 12, 2021. Trainer: Travion Jones.

12-year-old Victorydaze Wilwin tested positive for oxymorphone and oxycodone on Dec 11, 2021. Trainer: Joseph Martin.

8-year-old Kerrin Joseph A tested positive for oxymorphone and pregabalin [an anticonvulsant and analgesic] on Dec 11, 2021. Trainer: Travis Kolaczynski.

5-year-old Paloma Ruiz tested positive for oxymorphone and oxycodone on Feb 4, 2022. Trainer: Jacob Cutting.

5-year-old Turbochargedpete tested positive for oxymorphone on Nov 19, 2022. Trainer: Scott DiDomenico.

Each of the above was fined $1,000 and suspended for just seven days.

This is horseracing.

The stewards at Los Alamitos report that trainer (and owner in one case) Angela Aquino has been busted for doping not one but two of her horses with – caffeine. Not surprisingly, the horses in question, Debt Monger and Chay Up and Away, finished first in their respective August races, “earning” a combined $14K for Aquino in the process. Thus far, the only repercussions are disqualification and purse forfeiture. Aquino, by the way, still controls both and has raced them a combined 11 times since; in the case of DM, two of those races came just six days apart. A fine human being.

In addition, over just two days (Dec 10, 11), the following sick or injured horses were set to be raced by their people at LA, but were thwarted (“scratched”) by the track vet:

One Cool Dude, sick
Malakai Moxie, unsound
She Thinks Im Cute, sick
Jay Boy, sick
Project Logic, sick

Then, at the Los Al Thoroughbred meet, same thing (four days):

Navy Man, sick
Charlotte Harbor, injured
Turquoise Bikini, sick
Crypto Munny, sick
Angelcents, sick
Betito, sick

As previously reported, 3-year-old Miniconjou collapsed dead of “an apparent heart attack” immediately after the 11th race at Churchill June 11. Again, three years old.

Now, we learn that in his penultimate race, May 6 at Oaklawn, Mini ran on Class 2 (second worst kind) mepivacaine – an anesthetic. In its report filed just yesterday, the Arkansas Commission notes that “trainer Kelly Von Hemel availed his right to do a split sample and waived his right to a hearing.” In other words, guilty as charged. And all the Commission did was disqualify the now-dead horse and redistribute the purse money (Mini had “won” the race and $31K). No fine, no suspension.

(Not that it matters much, but sometime between those races Mini changed hands, with Thomas Amoss the trainer on death day.)

I write this not to imply there was a connection between the drug and Mini’s death (indeed the Kentucky Commission wrote: “no prohibited substances detected; no therapeutic medication detected above threshold concentrations”). Far from it. Fact is, adolescent racehorses collapse and die all the time, and they do, in my opinion, for the same reason they snap legs: their bodies are woefully unready for what they’re being forced to do. No, this is simply to underscore how this poor horse was abused prior to being killed – like, that is, every other casualty of this vile industry.

(Update: The following day, Arkansas did impose penalties on trainer Von Hemel: 15-day suspension, $500 fine. Still, for a Class 2 drugging, laughable.)