By: Ray Paulick
The owner-trainer license of Mark Powell has been suspended five years by Delaware Park stewards for “refusing to cooperate with an official of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission and other racing officials” on Aug. 28, 2018. The Oct. 13 ruling also notes that Powell has been fined $2,500.
The penalties stem from an attempt by Arabian Horse Association, Arabian Jockey Club and state officials to take DNA samples of some of Powell’s horses, according to John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware commission.
“He said, ‘Where is your warrant? You’re not testing my horses,’” Wayne said. “I told him, ‘I’ll get a warrant.’”
The Delaware Department of Justice issued an administrative search warrant, but Powell attempted to leave the Delaware Park grounds with his horses before it could be served, Wayne said. Powell’s trailer was blocked by a vehicle so he couldn’t exit the track and Delaware State Police served the warrant.
Samples were taken and the results are back, Wayne said. Powell has 45 days to challenge the results before they can be made public, according to Arabian Horse Association rules.
Attorney Alan Pincus, who represented Powell at the Oct. 12 hearing, said the length of the suspension was unprecedented. “It’s outrageous,” Pincus said, “This punishment is a pretense for other stuff; they have pre-judged him to be guilty of something they haven’t charged him with.”
Pincus said officials wanted the DNA samples “because of rampant rumors about a certain horse. They want to prove it’s not the horse he said it is.”
The attorney said Powell was trying to remove his horses after being told by Delaware Park officials to leave.
“They’re telling him to get out, then they won’t let him leave,” Pincus said. “That warrants five years?”
Powell has trained 57 winners from 426 lifetime starters, according to Equibase’s Arabian racing statistics. Among the best horses he’s owned is Arabian champion So Big Is Better, who won the first-ever Arabaian race at Santa Anita on the Breeders’ Cup Friday program in 2013, taking the Grade 1 President of United Arab Emirates Cup.
Powell has won 7-of-73 starts this year.
The suspension runs from Oct. 13, 2018 through Oct. 12, 2023.