By: Jim Dunleavy
Richard’s Boy was placed first in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National on June 3 after the stewards disqualified Bold Thunder for fouling him in the stretch. Now, Richard’s Boy has a drug positive and Bold Thunder could be reinstated as the winner.
Richard’s Boy is based at San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California with trainer Peter Miller. In his start prior to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup, Richard’s Boy won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico. In March, he finished fifth, beaten only 2 1/2 lengths, in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai.
Miller said he was recently notified that Richard’s Boy had tested positive for a trace level of methamphetamine. He has exercised his right to have a split sample tested. A written ruling on the positive has not yet been issued, pending the results of the split sample.
The medication violation is out of character for Miller, who said he has not had a positive test for a prohibited drug since he began training in 1987. Miller, through Monday, had 831 wins from 4,603 starters.
A 50-year-old native of Los Angeles, Miller is the leading trainer at the Santa Anita spring meet, which concludes July 4. He was second in the standings at the Santa Anita winter meet. He has won or shared seven other meet titles in Southern California since 2014.
“This is my first positive, it’s surprising and disappointing,” Miller said. “I don’t know what happened, but I know what didn’t happen. Neither me nor my crew administered this drug.”
Miller said the positive could be the result of contamination.
“Drugs are a societal problem nationwide, and I don’t think racing boards know how to deal with it,” Miller said. “But they need to come to grips with it. When you run a horse he comes in contact with a lot of people – the assistant starters, the pony people, blacksmiths, the identifier. This situation has me scared, I’ll tell you that.”
Both Richard’s Boy and Bold Thunder are entered in the Grade 3 Parx Dash on Saturday. Miller said after learning of the drug positive, he initially did not intend to return to Pennsylvania.
“My owner said, ‘You haven’t done anything wrong, we should go.’ “ Miller said. “I’m supposed to be safe. The track has agreed to provide 24/7 security for my horse. I tested him this week, and he tested clean, so we’re coming back to Pennsylvania.”
Bold Thunder will carry 124 pounds in the Parx Dash, even though the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup was his first start of the year and he is officially winless in 2017. Going by his past performances and the conditions of the race, he should get in at 119.
Sam Elliott, director of racing at Parx, said he had no choice but to give Bold Thunder 124.
“The Penn National stewards have informed the Parx stewards there is a dispute between the top two finishers in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup and that both have to be treated as winners for this race,” Elliott said.
Tom Chuckas, executive director of the Pennsylvania Racing Commission, did not return phone calls Monday or Tuesday regarding Richard’s Boy’s positive test.
The stewards at Parx Racing are under instructions not to speak with the media at any time. The Penn National stewards could not be reached for comment because the track was dark.