Breeders Classic winner disqualified

January 14, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The winning horse of last year's West Virginia Breeders Classic at Charles Town Races was disqualified Friday and its trainer was suspended, according to the Board of Stewards.

The Breeders Classics, which carries the largest racing purse in the state, drew about 5,000 people Oct. 10.

The winning horse of the featured race, A Huevo, broke a 26-year-old record that day. But state racing officials held up the $150,000 purse pending the outcome of an investigation into whether the horse was aided by illegal drugs.

A Huevo tested positive for Clenbuterol, a drug which opens up the nasal passages. The three-member Board of Stewards, an arm of the West Virginia Racing Commission, determined that trainer Michael W. Dickinson violated state rules. His 30-day suspension takes effect Monday.

Dickinson did not return telephone calls seeking comment Friday.

As a result of the board's ruling, Dickinson is denied all rights and privileges at all West Virginia racetracks until Feb. 15. Most tracks throughout the country also will recognize the suspension, according to racing officials.


The ruling does not affect bets placed on the race, said Rodney Peters, the presiding state steward at Charles Town.

The $150,000 purse from the race, which was held up pending the investigation, will be distributed among the remaining horses in the following order: Rebelious Dreamer, In Front By Two, Me No Sissy, Bold Dreamer, Taylor Two and Fun With Frank.

Peters said all winning horses undergo blood and urine tests.

"I can't say that they're common. With all the horses, and all of the races that we run, it happens occasionally," he said.

Dick Watson, president of the Charles Town division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, recalled only one other suspension for drug violations at the track within the last year.

"Am I surprised? No," he said. "That is a standard ruling for a Clenbuterol violation."

Watson said bronchial dilators like Clenbuterol are commonly used when training race horses. Rules regarding their use in competition vary among different jurisdictions.

Kentucky, for instance, requires the drugs be discontinued three days before a race, but allows trace amounts.

West Virginia allows no amount, he said.

It can become confusing for trainers both because of the varying rules and because different horses respond differently to drugs, Watson said.

"Sometimes, horses metabolize a little slower and so you end up with a positive when you thought you were all right," he said.

Dickinson presented no witnesses during the three-hour hearing Wednesday, Peters said.

Dickinson has signaled his intent to appeal his suspension to the West Virginia Racing Commission but has not yet filed a formal appeal, according to Lois Graham, executive secretary with the commission.

Dickinson has 20 days from the date of suspension to file an appeal, Graham said.

The appeal would be heard by a panel of three racing commissioners from different parts of the state. A hearing date would be scheduled within 30 days of the appeal, and the decision would be made between 10 and 30 days of the hearing, Graham said.

In order to stop the suspension from taking effect, Dickinson would need to seek an injunction in Circuit Court.

"We do not have automatic stays," Graham said.

An appeals hearing probably would take place at Charles Town, Peters said.

During an appeal, Dickinson and his attorney would be able to present their defense.

Sam Huff, president of the Breeders Classics, has said this is the first time in the 13 years of the Breeders Classics the purse was held up due to an investigation. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

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