By: Matt Hegarty
There wasn’t a dead heat, but the 2016 Parx Oaks will have two winners.
In a highly unusual settlement between trainer John Servis and Pennsylvania regulators, both Miss Inclusive, who was first across the wire, and Eighth Wonder, the second-place finisher, will be listed as the winners of the May 7 Parx Oaks last year at Parx Racing. Miss Inclusive, however, will not receive a share of the purse because Miss Inclusive, trained by Servis, tested positive for clenbuterol, a regulated medication.
Miss Inclusive was initially disqualified from the Oaks and Servis was handed a 15-day suspension, a penalty that also reflected two other positives for clenbuterol in horses trained by Servis in April. However, in a ruling dealing with all three positives that was issued Friday and finalized over the weekend, Servis will instead be fined $8,000, the 15-day suspension will be rescinded, and Miss Inclusive will earn a black-type win without receiving a share of the $100,000 purse.
Adrian King, Servis’s attorney, said that the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission agreed to the amended rulings after Servis’s legal team argued that all three positives were at concentrations below threshold levels recommended by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, a national advisory group that conducts research and issues guidelines to racing commissions on medication policies.
“Mr. Servis is pleased with the fair and reasonable approach taken by the [racing commission] in these matters,” King said.
King also said that urine samples for all three horses tested negative for clenbuterol, an indication that the concentrations were lower than the testing limits for the equipment at the racing commission’s laboratory. He further argued that the drug could have “no positive effect on horse performance.”
Servis, who has not had a medication positive since 2008, said in an interview Saturday that he followed all the recommended protocols for the use of clenbuterol with the three horses, but that the tests came back positive anyway.
Clenbuterol is a bronchial dilator, but regular use of the drug can have muscle-building effects akin to anabolic steroids. Those effects have spurred regulators to crack down on the use of the drug by implementing testing standards that seek to prohibit administrations closer than 15 days before a race.
Tom Chuckas, the director for the Bureau of Thoroughbred Racing at the commission, did not return phone calls.
Servis said in the Saturday interview that he no longer administers the medication to any of his horses. The other two horses who tested positive, Hearty Jones and Someday Jones, were disqualified from their races.
“I don’t have it in the barn anywhere,” he said. “I can’t take that chance.”
King said that the owners of Eighth Wonder were consulted during the settlement negotiations to see if they would raise any objections to sharing the win with Miss Inclusive. They did not raise any objection as long as Eighth Wonder received the winner’s share of the purse, King said.