Pennsylvania Commission Denies Vazquez Appeal, Votes To Request Lasix Exemption From HISA - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Pennsylvania Commission Denies Vazquez Appeal, Votes To Request Lasix Exemption From HISA

At a regularly-scheduled meeting of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission on Sept. 27, commissioners voted to deny an appeal from trainer Juan Vazquez of a suspension that would run through 2025.

The vote was unanimous by the commissioners present, save for one abstention. Commissioner Russell Jones abstained from the vote and also abstained from the commission's hearing of Vazquez' appeal, citing potential conflict of interest since the incident in question took place at Parx. The appeal before the commission which concluded on Sept. 13 when both parties submitted post-hearing briefs and closing arguments.

Vazquez saw his owner and trainer licenses suspended this summer after stewards say he “was grossly negligent, cruel and abusive” in the death of runner Shining Colors, who they say he shipped from Belmont Park to Parx without proper care as the horse suffered from a severe case of laminitis. The mare was later euthanized. The suspension is due to run through the remaining balance of both licenses.

When asked whether Vazquez would appeal the decision to the courts, attorney Alan Pincus told the Paulick Report that “nothing has been decided.”

Elsewhere on the agenda, the commission considered and approved a request for an exemption from the upcoming changes to furosemide rules under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority. Pennsylvania already prohibits same-day furosemide use in 2-year-old races and stakes races, in line with many other racing jurisdictions. Commissioners were told this week that the new national anti-doping and medication rules that are expected to go into effect Jan. 1 will likely prohibit same-day furosemide use in all Thoroughbred races, but that states could ask for a three-year exemption to that rule change. States granted an exemption would continue to proceed under their existing rules, and in that time the Pennsylvania commission plans to study the effect on horses of not giving furosemide on race day.

The request was approved unanimously, with Sal De Bunda abstaining. The commission will file its request with the Authority in the coming days.

In related news, Director of Thoroughbred Racing Tom Chuckas told the commission he expects he will be given the Authority's assessment of anti-doping and medication control costs on Oct. 1.

Chuckas also provided further details on the enforcement activity conducted on Pennsylvania Derby day. Pennsylvania commission staff received assistance from the Organization of Racing Investigators. The team combined to conduct 138 vehicle searches at the stable gate, finding one trainer with ten loaded syringes and needles that are still being analyzed. One jockey was found with two buzzers and another was found with a small amount of marijuana. One owner was found with a gun and marijuana. Four barns were searched, resulting in the finding that one trainer had loaded syringes and needles, and another had five expired medications.

Three of those findings resulted in summary suspensions from the stewards, which were detailed in this release from ORI earlier this week.

Further, Chuckas made note of the use of the state's integrity hotline which launched in March. So far it has received 77 calls, resulting in 72 closed cases and five ongoing investigations.

Between Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing this year, Chuckas said the state has pulled 818 out-of-competition drug testing samples.

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