By: Matt Hegarty
New Mexico has barred three Quarter Horse trainers who were recently suspended by the Texas Racing Commission for Class 1 racing positives, including the trainer of an early favorite for the upcoming All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in the state.
Ismael Trejo, the executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, said he notified trainer Judd Kearl on Monday that the commission was honoring the Texas suspensions under the state’s reciprocity doctrine, which requires racing commissions to recognize rulings in other states.
Kearl, who saddled the winners of the Rainbow Derby and Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso just days after being notified of five positives for the prohibited medication nomifensine, an anti-depressant that has not been available commercially in the U.S. for 30 years, is based at Ruidoso. The positives occurred in races at Sam Houston Race Park and Retama Park in late May and June, according to Texas Racing Commission records.
Stewards at the Texas Racing Commission issued summary suspensions for Kearl and two other trainers on Monday, citing “circumstances [that] strongly indicate a scheme to cheat and also indicate that the drug was intentionally administered.” The other two trainers are Jose Sanchez, who had two positives for the same drug, and Brian Stroud, with one positive.
Robert Elrod, the public information officer for the Texas Racing Commission, said the suspensions will remain in place “at least” until hearings can be held with the trainers. Hearings had been scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, but have been delayed after attorneys for the trainers requested a continuance.
Elrod also said that the trainers’ attorneys have indicated they will seek a stay of the suspensions. That would be especially important to Kearl, who trains Eagle Jazz, one of the early favorites for the $3 million All American Futurity, scheduled for Sept. 4. Trials for the Futurity are scheduled for Aug. 18-19 at Ruidoso.
Darrell Vienna, an attorney based in California who is representing Kearl and Sanchez, said that he would seek a stay from the suspension, calling the penalty “unprecedented” in Texas.
“I can find no previous issuance of a summary suspension of a trainer for a medication violation [in Texas],” Vienna, a former trainer, said on Tuesday morning. “The summary suspension requires proof of administration of a prohibited substance,” which the commission lacks despite the post-race tests indicating the presence of the drug, Vienna said.
It is not clear if Kearl has been ordered off the grounds at Ruidoso. Ruidoso Downs is dark on Tuesday, and no one in the racing office answered the phone. Vienna said he did not know if the track had ordered Kearl to leave the grounds.