Asmussen suspended six months

The Louisiana Racing Commission on Friday upheld a ruling that suspends Steve Asmussen, the second leading trainer in North America, for six months for a medication infraction at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La. The suspension is scheduled to begin on July 10.
Asmussen has a 30-day window to decide if he wants to appeal the decision in court.

The ruling stems from a March 24 race in which the Asmussen-trained No End in Sight tested positive for the Class 2 drug Mepivicaine, a local anesthetic. Class 2 medications are defined by the Association of Racing Commissioners International as drugs that have the potential to affect performance. Local anesthetics are included in this class because of their potential use as nerve-blocking agents, according to the ARCI.

The medication infraction at Evangeline was one of two Asmussen had in March. The other was for an Acepromazine positive in New Mexico. Asmussen has appealed that ruling, and will have a hearing in August.

No End in Sight finished eighth in the optional claimer at Evangeline, and a ruling was issued on May 18. In addition to the suspension, Asmussen was fined $2,500 by the commission on Friday, said Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission.

"Since there was no purse involved, there were no redistribution issues," Gardiner said.

Asmussen said he attended the meeting, which was held at a hotel in New Orleans.

"Whether I agree with their findings or not is irrelevant at this point, and at this stage I'm informing the owners of the situation that we're in and will attempt to move forward, Asmussen said.

Asmussen ranks second among all North American trainers in wins and earnings in 2006. Through Friday, he had won 216 races for stable earnings of $6,815,636. Asmussen has divisions of his stable at five tracks: Arlington Park in Illinois, Belmont Park in New York, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, Lone Star Park in Texas, and Louisiana Downs in Louisiana.

The Sunland Park board of stewards in New Mexico issued a ruling that suspended Asmussen six months, fined him $1,500, and called for a loss of purse after Boots are Walking tested positive for the Class 3 drug Acepromazine, a commonly used tranquilizer, in a $50,000 stakes he won March 4. Asmussen was granted a stay in June, and will have a hearing Aug. 30. Class 3 drugs are defined by the ARCI as drugs that may or may not have generally accepted medical use in horses and have less potential to affect performance than Class 2 drugs.

Following the New Mexico hearing, the hearing officer will make a recommendation to the commission, said Rosemary Leeder, an official with the New Mexico Racing Commission. The officer has 30 days to make that recommendation, and the item will then be placed on the agenda for consideration by the commission. The matter could come before the commission in September or October, said Leeder.