LEXINGTON, Ky. – Steve Asmussen will receive a stay of a 30-day suspension recently handed down by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for two positives for a regulated sedative while he appeals the penalty, according to the commission’s executive director.
Marc Guilfoil, the KHRC’s executive director, said on Wednesday morning that he informed Asmussen’s attorney during a phone call on Tuesday night that a stay will be granted. The commission typically grants stays of penalties for violations that do not involve drugs that have no clear medical purposes for a horse.
Asmussen, who is based in Kentucky but has operations in several states, was set to serve the 30-day suspension beginning on Dec. 20, running through Jan. 18 of next year. He was also fined a total of $3,500 for the two overages, according to rulings, and both horses were disqualified from their races, with the purses redistributed.
The two positives were detected in horses that won races in Kentucky last year, on June 28 at Churchill Downs and Oct. 25 at Keeneland. The tests revealed the presence of metabolites of acepromazine, a sedative that is commonly used to calm horses for travel purposes, the administration of injections, and shoeing.
The threshold for the drug is 10 nanograms per milliliter. In the case involving the June 28 race, Thousand Percent tested for a level of 76 nanograms per milliliter, according to the KHRC ruling. After the Oct. 25 race, Boldor tested positive for a level of 17 nanograms per milliliter.
Clark Brewster, Asmussen’s attorney, said on Wednesday that protocols in Asmussen’s barn indicated that the acepromazine could not have been administered within “eight or nine days” of the races that the horses ran in. He also said that the acepromazine was administered orally, and that the metabolite detected in the post-race tests, which is called 2-1-Hydroxyethyl Promazine Sulfoxide (HEPS), could linger in a horse’s system for much longer than the 48-hour withdrawal guideline published by the KHRC.
“This is a metabolite that is incredibly resilient and aberrational,” Brewster said. “It could linger for a month or more.”
Brewster also said that the KHRC’s rules do not contain a specific reference to the HEPS metabolite as the foundation for a penalty, but rather simply refer to acepromazine, which was not detected in either of the samples.
Brewster said that Asmussen could have accepted the penalty but he felt that Kentucky regulators needed to take a closer look at how acepromazine is regulated to prevent similar cases in the future.
“He could have worked something out here, but we really think this is something that needs to be looked at,” Brewster said.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.