By: David Grening
Trainer Gary Contessa on Monday began serving a seven-day suspension for a drug violation incurred nearly two years ago at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Contessa-trained Jeremy’s Song, who finished second in a maiden race March 8, 2014, was found to have had 2.3 nanograms of cocaine in his system, according to Contessa. Jeremy’s Song was not disqualified from second, nor was there a redistribution of any purse money earned.
But after negotiations with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Contessa received a one-week suspension and a $500 fine.
Contessa believes the cocaine positive was a result of “environmental contamination.” He said that one veterinarian told him that a level this low would not even be called a positive in 17 states.
“I had 2.3 nanograms in a 1,400-pound racehorse, and two years later they want me to do seven days and a $500 fine with no redistribution of purse,” Contessa said. “I just had my knee replaced. I’m 16 days in, I can get a lot of support and a lot of work done on my knee, and I’ll just work on being healthy when I come back.”
On Monday at Laurel, two horses Contessa trains ran under the name of his New York assistant, John Campo Jr.
At Aqueduct, horses from Contessa’s stable will run in the name of Kim Laudati, who worked for Contessa for about 10 years.