By: Matt Hegarty
Kellyn Gorder, who has trained 36 winners from 227 starters this year, began a 60-day suspension Sunday, nearly two years after a horse he trained tested positive for methamphetamine following a race at Churchill Downs.
Gorder, 49, began serving the suspension as a result of a settlement agreement negotiated with stewards that was approved several months ago by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Gorder was initially suspended 14 months for the positive test and the discovery of a syringe during a related search of his barn conducted by commission personnel, but the suspension was stayed during Gorder’s appeal.
The Class A medication violation was reduced to a Class B violation in the settlement. The reduction was agreed to by the stewards after further testing of the sample determined that the methamphetamine was an ingredient of a popular over-the-counter medication, rather than a powerful street form of the drug, according to Barbara Borden, the chief Kentucky state steward.
Gorder is required to divest himself of all financial connections to his horses during the term of the suspension. Borden said stewards reviewed and approved all transfers of the horses, and noted that many of the horses trained by Gorder have been sent to farms for lay-ups.
“We’re satisfied with the arrangements that have been made,” Borden said.
Gorder said Monday morning that he had 18 horses when he began divesting them. Four are now being trained by John Ortiz, his former assistant who took out his trainer’s license several months ago and has been claiming horses recently in Kentucky.
Gorder said that he had 50 to 60 horses in his barn at the time his horse tested positive two years ago.
“It’s definitely had a big effect on my business,” he said.
“I’m not happy to be sitting out 60 days, but I want to get this over with and start 2017 fresh,” he said.
Gorder started approximately 300 horses a year from 2012 to 2015, with purse earnings each year of approximately $2 million. He is a former jockey who has also broken yearlings. He turned to training full time in 2007.
The syringe that was found during the barn search was left over from an antibiotic treatment that Gorder administered to one his horses, he said. The search also turned up several bottles of unlabeled medications, but testing determined that the medications were therapeutic drugs. It is a violation of state racing rules for trainers to possess hypodermic needles.