By Ron Mitchell
A circuit court judge has reversed the one-year suspension imposed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on trainer Daniel Werre for a positive medication test at Turfway Park in December 2012.
Werre, who obtained his trainer’s license in 2011, was suspended April 3, 2014, after the KHRC upheld the stewards’ initial suspension and a $5,000 fine as a result of a post-race positive test on Voodoo Doctor, winner of the ninth race at Turfway on Dec. 7, 2012, which showed the presence of the medication Levamisole, a Class A prohibited substance under Kentucky regulations.
According to the court records, Levamisole was reclassified from a Class B substance to Class A drug on or about Sept. 4, 2012, and the Dec. 18, 2012, initial report from the KHRC identifying the positive in Voodoo Doctor described it as a Class B substance. A second report on Dec. 21 was identical to the first, with the exception Levamisole was classified as a Class A.
Werre and his attorney, Mike Meuser of Lexington, petitioned the Franklin Circuit Court to review the ruling, contending that the commission had failed to take into consideration mitigating circumstances, had improperly classified Levamisole as a Class A prohibited substance, and failed to demonstrate the propriety of the penalty imposed.
Werre claimed the Levamisole was intended for another horse in his barn, Between the Lines, who had been properly prescribed the therapeutic medication and was located in the stall adjacent to the one where Voodoo Doctor was located. According to the court record, Werre believed the positive test likely resulted from some of the feed for Between the Lines that contained the Levamisole accidentally contaminating Voodoo Doctor’s feed.
In his ruling, Judge Phillip Shepherd noted the Uniform Drug, Medication, and Substance Classification Schedule for Kentucky racing defines Class A substances as “drugs that have no legitimate therapeutic indication in the equine athlete and have not been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Levamisole has a therapeutic use and is FDA approved.”
Shepherd said the court is not convinced “by the KHRC’s argument that the portion of the schedule defining a Class A substance is ‘prefatory’ or ‘descriptive’ language” and that the classification of Levamisole as a Class A substance is “arbitrary and capricious.”
The judge said that at the administrative hearing for Werre, the KHRC “only offered testimony regarding the alleged stimulatory effect of Levamisole in humans. Such evidence is insufficient to support a finding that Levamisole has a stimulatory effect in horses or to prove that it has an effect on the central nervous system.”
Shepherd said the improper classification of Levamisole as a Class A substance, the fact that the medication was legally present in the barn for use on another horse, the small amount of the medication in the post-race test indicating accidental administration, and Werre’s record of having no prior medication positives, all add up to mitigating circumstances that the KHRC failed to take into consideration when penalizing the trainer and “were an abuse of discretion.”
Finally, Shepherd agreed with Meuser’s contention that the KHRC had not met “its burden of showing the propriety of the one-year suspension of Mr. Were’s trainer’s license.”
A KHRC spokesman said the decision is being reviewed and no decision has been made on whether to appeal.
According to OwnerView.com, since 2013, Werre has been represented by three winners from 33 starters.