By: Mary Rampellini
Heza Streakin Legacy qualified for the $3 million All American Quarter Horse Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, but was not allowed to be entered back in the finale by the stewards on Friday because of a positive hair test for clenbuterol during an out of competition testing program in New Mexico.
“It’s kind of something unprecedented,” said Izzy Trejo, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission.
Heza Streakin Legacy was the second fastest qualifier on the first day of trials for the All American, which will be run on Sept. 4. There were a total of 28 trials held between Aug. 18-19 and the five fastest qualifiers from each program earned a chance at the finale. The spot in the gate Heza Streakin Legacy had was opened to Dash For Stone, the sixth fastest qualifier on the first day of trials.
“We decided the best thing to do for Quarter Horse racing was to have a 10-horse field for the world’s richest [Quarter Horse] race,” said Trejo.
A message for Albert Franco, who trains Heza Streakin Legacy, could not be left due to an oversubscribed voicemail box. A text was sent to the same phone number, but there was no immediate reply Saturday night. Trejo said Franco and Heza Streakin Legacy’s owner, M.C. Ybarra Jr., face no sanctions under the out of competition program. Heza Streakin Legacy, however, was placed on the stewards’ list for 60 days because of the positive hair test, and will be tested again before he can come off the list, which makes a horse ineligible to start. Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator and in a post-race testing program ranks as a Class 3 drug violation.
Heza Streakin Legacy, who won his trial race, has not been disqualified from that win or its purse, said Trejo. The results of the positive hair test were in prior to the trial, but the horse’s connections had a temporary restraining order that enabled the horse to run Aug. 18, the same afternoon the commission had a hearing seeking to dissolve the temporary restraining order because the agency was not informed of the court proceedings, according to Trejo.
Entries for the All American were taken on Friday, the same day the connections of Heza Streakin Legacy petitioned for an emergency court hearing that may have enabled the horse to be entered. By early afternoon the judge had upheld the decision that dissolved the original temporary restraining order, but the stewards that morning had denied the entry based on the original court ruling that returned the horse to the stewards’ list.
Entries for the All American are taken on a different date than the post position draw, which has not yet been held. Trejo said more than 100 hair tests were performed on leading contenders for the All American Futurity, whether before the trials, or when results of qualifiers were official if those individuals had not been previously tested. The same approach was taken for the All American Derby, and there were no issues with that race, said Trejo.
“Our goal prior to the All American [races] was to have 10 clean horses for the Futurity and the Derby,” said Trejo.