New, legal drug causing confusion, suspensions

On Horse Racing

November 29, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The first finding of clenbuterol in thoroughbred racing in Maryland has resulted in a 15-day suspension for trainer John E. Salzman Sr.

The drug was discovered in Dark Dilemma after his second-place finish Nov. 13 in the second race at Laurel Park. Salzman's temporary ban from the backstretch by the stewards began Friday.

Based at Laurel Park, the veteran trainer said he administered the drug to Dark Dilemma according to the guidelines established by Maryland veterinarians -- seven days before race day. Still, clenbuterol turned up in the 5-year-old gelding's post-race drug test.

"I wish I could say I messed up and gave it closer," Salzman said. "But I did what was recommended. I know some horse's metabolisms are different from others. Maybe that's the reason. I really don't know."

Clenbuterol has become one of the most controversial aspects of horse racing at a time when racing is trying to reach out to new fans. It is a bronchodilator that helps clear a horse's lungs of mucus; it helps horses with respiratory diseases breathe.

Since May 11, when clenbuterol was legalized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it has become a tangled mess. In the first place, it is legal during training but not during racing.

Salzman said Dark Dilemma had a lung infection. So he consulted with a veterinarian and treated the horse with clenbuterol. The treatments ended seven days before Dark Dilemma raced, the trainer said. The lung infection cleared up, but the clenbuterol had not cleared the horse's system.

Exacerbating the problem is that states differ in how they test for clenbuterol. They offer varying guidelines for how soon before a race to administer it. And they dish out widely disparate penalties for clenbuterol positives.

"They're going to have to get their act together up and down the East Coast," Salzman said.

The disparities may become shockingly evident in the next few days. Dale Mills, another Laurel-based trainer, is awaiting his penalty for Testafly's clenbuterol positive after finishing third behind Skip Away three months ago in the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park.

After numerous delays, New Jersey stewards conducted a hearing on Mills' case 12 days ago. And still they have not issued a ruling, leaving Mills to wonder what fate awaits him.

New Jersey treats drug offenders much more severely than most states, including Maryland. Whereas Salzman got 15 days, Mills is likely to get 30, 45, 90, maybe more.

Where's the fairness in that?

Gift suggestion

Now that we've entered the Christmas shopping season, let me recommend a gift for horse and racing lovers: "Four Seasons Of Racing," a book of 253 photographs by Barbara D. Livingston.

An Eclipse Award-winning photographer, Livingston resides in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where she began visiting horse farms as a girl. She has photographed horses professionally for 25 years. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Newsweek, People and The Blood-Horse.

As its title implies, "Four Seasons Of Racing" takes the viewer through each season at various spots across the country, including Pimlico, Northview Stallion Station and Country Life Farm in Maryland. It contains such photographs as a newborn foal's first breaths, a foggy-morning workout at Saratoga and horses romping through freshly fallen snow.

You can order the book for $39.95 through The Blood-Horse magazine at 800-582-5604.

New on the farms

Richard L. Golden, the owner of Sycamore Farm in Chesapeake City, purchased the 4-year-old filly Justadarling for $400,000 at the recent Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Justadarling is a daughter of Afleet and the broodmare Adarling, by Alleged. She has won stakes on dirt and turf. Golden said she will be bred after the new year to Polish Numbers, who stands at Northview Stallion Station, of which Golden is president.

In other breeding news, Country Life Farm has added Storm Broker to its stallion roster. Mike Pons, business manager of the farm, said Storm Broker, 4, will be the only stakes-winning son of Storm Cat standing in the region.

"He's a good-looking horse who can run out of the hottest sire in the world," Pons said.

The dam of Storm Broker is Buy the Firm, a stakes-winning mare whose yearling daughter by Danzig recently sold for $950,000. Storm Broker will stand for $4,000.

He joins a growing list of new or relocated stallions in the state: Alster and Green Alligator at Elberton Hill Farm, Awad and Partner's Hero at Northview Stallion Station, Haymaker at Murmur Farm, Larrupin' at Green Willow Farms, Lord Concorde at Worthington Farms, Ops Smile and Swear By Dixie at Bonita Farm, Same Day Delivery at Kris-Nic Farm, and Word Band and Zignew at William's Grove Farm.

Horsemen's dinner

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association annual Christmas party and awards presentations will begin at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Laurel Park clubhouse. You can buy tickets for $25 at the door.

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