The trainer of Eight Belles, the filly who died on the track at the Kentucky Derby -- finds himself on the defensive after his horse tested positive for Clen. To the New York Times:
Two of the most outspoken critics on the use of drugs in horse racing recently had a colt of their own fail a drug test, a result that they are saying was sabotage. Larry Jones, who trained the late filly Eight Belles, and Jim Squires, the breeder of the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, were notified Tuesday that Stones River had tested positive for illegal levels of clenbuterol, a bronchodilator that helps burn fat and promote muscle growth, after a race June 8 at Delaware Park.
Jones trains Stones River for Squires, who races under the name Two Bucks Stable. Stones River romped to a nine-and-a-quarter-length victory in a 1-mile 70-yard allowance race, paying $7.40 for a $2 bet to win.
Jones has long called for limits on the use of steroids and race-day medications in horses, and he endured severe criticism after Eight Belles was euthanized on the track after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby. In more than 25 years of training horses, Jones had never had a violation, including any for drugs, according to the Racing Commissioners International database.
Both owner and trainer posted a long history of clean horses; they were also outspoken critics of steroid use in horses.
Squires, a former member of the Kentucky Racing Commission, also has a clean record and has called for more vigorous, uniform regulation of therapeutic drugs like clenbuterol, as well as for steroids. Squires has written on the subject in several articles for The New York Times.
Squires said that the positive test came amid intense scrutiny of industry practices during the recently concluded Triple Crown season, beginning with the death of Eight Belles and continuing with the acknowledgment by Rick Dutrow, the trainer of Big Brown, who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, that his colt had received the anabolic steroid Winstrol. These events helped spur a Congressional hearing Thursday, when members told industry leaders to clean up their sport or the federal government would.
Sabotage? Deliberately poisoned? Perhaps. Nasty business.
“That a Two Bucks Stable horse in his care has become the first drug positive in his career in the highly charged atmosphere during the week of a congressional investigation focusing on drugs and safety in horse racing is highly suspicious,” Squires said in a written statement. “It reeks of a deliberate effort to impugn our credibility on the subject of drugs and damage the reputation of a highly successful trainer who has been unfairly and mistakenly blamed by a few critics outside the industry for the death of Eight Belles.”
Jones is the leading trainer at Delaware Park and is ranked No. 11 nationally with purse earnings of more than $3.1 million. Last year at Delaware Park, a small sponge was found in the nose of one of his horses in what the state police described as an attempt to fix a race. The horse, a 2-year-old filly, finished third as the 4-5 favorite.
Jones noticed mucus coming from the filly’s nose two days later. He sent her to the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., and, after antibiotics failed to improve the condition, veterinarians operated and found the sponge with uniform holes stuffed in her nose. The case remains unsolved.