By: Jim Dunleavy
In a Pennsylvania Racing Commission ruling dated Oct. 26, the Penn National board of stewards fined trainer Peter Miller $1,500 for his horse Richard’s Boy testing positive for methamphetamine following the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup on June 3.
Richard’s Boy finished second by a head to Bold Thunder in the five-furlong turf sprint, but was placed first by the stewards, who disqualified Bold Thunder to second for ducking out in midstretch.
In September, when a split sample confirmed the presence of methamphetamine in Richard’s Boy, the stewards disqualified him from the purse money in the Governor’s Cup. The stewards awarded the $114,800 winner’s share to Bold Thunder and moved up the other runners in the race one position.
Miller, 51, has won or tied for numerous training titles in Southern California. He has a clean record in respect to medication positives and blamed outside contamination for the positive.
“It was a trace amount and couldn’t have affected the horse’s performance,” Miller said. “I’m just glad the Penn National stewards used common sense in their decision and acted accordingly. I feel exonerated.”
The ruling states that the stewards took into consideration “mitigating circumstances with one being that a stable employee who shipped with the horse tested positive for methamphetamine.”
Miller said when he was notified of the positive several weeks after the race he had both of his employees who traveled with Richard’s Boy drug tested.
“I took both my employees to a testing clinic for hair analysis,” he said. “One tested clean and the other was positive. He has since been terminated.”
Miller is at least the fourth trainer in recent months to be fined but not suspended following a positive test on the East Coast that was deemed to be the result of environmental contamination.
Earlier this month, trainers Jorge Navarro and Joe Sharp were fined by the New Jersey Racing Commission for positive tests at Monmouth Park. Navarro was fined $2,500 after one of horses tested positive for cocaine and Sharp was fined $1,500 for a methamphetamine positive.
In September, trainer Dale Capuano was held blameless for a positive test for cocaine in one of his horses at Laurel Park. The mitigating circumstances in that case involved a groom with a drug history who refused to take a drug test when ordered by the Maryland Racing Commission.
All of the horses in question have been disqualified from the purse money in their respective races.
Navarro and Sharp are appealing the penalties levied against them.
“This is going to be an ongoing issue in horseracing,” Miller said. “It’s a societal issue with drugs and minute amounts will test as a positive. We’re going to see more of these contamination positives moving forward.”
Miller has Richard’s Boy entered in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and Roy H entered in the BC Sprint on Saturday at Del Mar, where he is a four-time leading trainer.