By: Frank Angst
While Pennsylvania gets its new racing commission in place, multiple graded stakes-winning trainer Ramon Preciado—accused of six clenbuterol positives in March and April at Parx Racing—continues to win races.
Running under a temporary restraining order that lifted a decision by Parx to halt Preciado from entering horses, Preciado saddled Rag Time Stables’Kid Kelly to victory in a claiming race May 23 at Parx. Kid Kelly secured $17,640 with his two-length win and gave Preciado his 20th win this year at Parx, tied for fourth in the trainer standings.
On May 28-29 Preciado has six more horses entered at Parx, which in April attempted to ban him following several clenbuterol positives. According to records acquired from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, undner which the racing commission falls, Preciado had six horses test positive for clenbuterol—all winners.
The Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory, official chemist of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, determined that Poderosa, who raced March 1; Christmas Charm, March 20;Avarita, March 28; Broad Lover, April 11; Atizapan, April 11; and No Returns, April 12 all tested positive for clenbuterol. The Paulick Reportfirst reported the string of clenbuterol positives.
Following the half-dozen positives, Parx on April 15 ejected Preciado for three years. But the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania filed a temporary restraining order May 13 that allows Preciado to continue racing at the track until the PHRC issues its decision.
Preciado is appealing the six positives and two clenbuterol positives from 2015. He said he will prove at those hearings that a disgruntled employee sabotaged his horses by giving them clenbuterol without his knowledge.
“No matter how many cameras you put up, or precautions you take, the fact is employees still go into the stalls of these horses,” said Preciado’s attorney Alan Pincus.
The temporary restraining order could allow Preciado to continue to compete at Parx for some time because racing regulation in the Keystone State is being reconstituted and the nine members of the new Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission are not scheduled to meet until June 29. A July 1 hearing on the decision by Parx Racing to eject Preciado for three years.
The Pennsylvania lab noted that the winners who tested positive for clenbuterol would each be disqualified and purse money would be redistributed. The report notes that stewards, Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission investigators, and the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau continue to investigate the cases.
With Pennsylvania reshaping its racing regulatory structure, the state also has not completed adoption of the multiple medication violation penalty system called for under the National Uniform Medication Program. In January the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission upheld a decision by its board of stewards to suspend Preciado 21 days and fine him $1,500 for a pair of 2015 clenbuterol positives at Delaware Park.
With the two rulings being final, Preciado was assigned four points on the multiple medication violations list. As a Class B substance, the two points from each clenbuterol positive will remain in place for three years. Under the guidelines, any further violation in a racing state that has the MMV penalty system in place would call for at least a 30-day suspension.
Pennsylvania has not put in place the MMV platform but the state has put in place the program’s controlled therapeutic substances list, which allows clenbuterol to be used as a bronchodilator. But it carries a 14-day withdrawal time because of its potential to deliver anabolic effects when abused.
In 2015 the PHRC fined Preciado twice for clenbuterol positives and once for a dimethylsulfoxide positive. He was suspended 90 days for the first clenbuterol positive and 120 for the second but he is appealing both of those stewards’ decisions to the racing commission. The stewards have not yet assigned sanctions for the six most recent clenbuterol positives, beyond the disqualifications and loss of purse money.
Pincus said racing commission staff has interviewed the employee Preciado believes sabatoged him but they have not provided any details from those interviews.