By: Matt Hegarty
The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has notified trainer Jorge Navarro that a horse he trained tested positive for cocaine after a race at Tampa Bay Downs in February, and Navarro said he plans to contest the finding.
In an administrative complaint dated March 16, the division said that Navarro’s Minecraft, a 7-year-old gelding, tested positive for cocaine following a second-place finish in a $5,000 claiming race on Feb. 8. Minecraft was claimed in the race by trainer Dennis Ward for owner Ridenjac Racing.
Navarro said Wednesday that he was notified of the positive two weeks ago, and since then, he has tested all of his employees and that “they all tested clean for cocaine.” He said he has “no idea” why the cocaine showed up in the post-race test, and he has instructed his attorney, Bradford Beilly, to contest the finding.
“I don’t do cocaine, my horses don’t go out and party, so why would cocaine show up in my horses?” Navarro said. “This is nuts.”
Navarro is based at Gulfstream Park this year. From 2014-16, he racked up more than 400 wins. This year, he has 31 wins from 150 starts.
Cocaine is a Class 1 drug, meaning a positive test for the substance carries the industry’s highest penalties. However, the drug is also a known contaminant, and Navarro’s attorney is likely to argue that the positive was produced by accidental contamination.
“My attorney said the concentration was so low that a pilot would be legally allowed to fly with it,” he said. “How can I explain that? My attorney is on top of it.”