Lazarus: Forte's 500 Picograms Of Meloxicam Would Not Have Triggered 'Positive' Under HISA's ADMC Program - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Lazarus: Forte’s 500 Picograms Of Meloxicam Would Not Have Triggered ‘Positive’ Under HISA’s ADMC Program

Forte at Churchill Downs

HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus made an interesting comment regarding the disqualification of juvenile champion Forte in an interview with the Thoroughbred Daily News on Friday, the day before the 2023 Preakness Stakes.

Lazarus referenced a report in in which Steven Barker, a chemist, LSU professor, and expert witness for Forte's connections, indicated that 500 picograms (or 0.5 nanograms) of meloxicam was found in the colt's system after the running of the 2022 Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes. Lazarus told the TDN that amount would not have triggered a positive under HISA's Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program rules, which launched Monday, May 22.

“I'm not going to talk about Forte specifically, but what I will tell you is that HISA's screening limits from meloxicam track the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities' screening limits,” Lazarus told TDN. “Therefore, our screening limit is one nanogram per milliliter in blood and 10 nanograms per milliliter in hydrolyzed urine. If what has been reported–and I haven't verified this–but if that positive was [indeed] 500 picograms, that would be below our screening limit and would not ever be notified as a positive under HISA.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher has also stated that he believes the meloxicam positive is a result of contamination and that Forte had never been prescribed or administered the drug.

Lazarus addressed HISA's contamination policy as well: “HISA has an atypical findings policy with 27 substances listed, and if [one of those] substances are detected in a horse's system, it goes through a special process to determine whether or not it's contamination. That's reviewed by the scientific committee. If the committee determines that it is contamination, then it never even rises to a violation.

“There's another provision in our rules called contaminated product. In that situation, if it's not subject to the atypical findings policy, and it's above the screening limit, there would still be disqualification. But the trainer could argue that it was a contaminated product or there was contamination, and they have the opportunity to have their sanction reduced to zero if they can convince the arbitration panel that it was contamination.”

Just days after Forte was scratched as the favorite on the morning of the Kentucky Derby, the New York Times broke the news that the colt had a drug positive still pending from his juvenile season. The Times' Joe Drape reported that two sources close to the situation say the positive is from a post-race test taken after Forte's win in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga in September. Drape's sources indicated the substance in question was “used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation” but was not specifically named.

Adjudication of the positive dragged on; a spokesperson for the New York State Gaming Commission told Drape the delays were “sought by the trainer's counsel,” but Forte's connections later disputed that assertion.

Meanwhile, after his win in the Hopeful, Forte went on to capture the G1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, followed by the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, earning him the 2022 Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Colt.

Although he had been projected as the morning-line favorite in the G1 Kentucky Derby, Forte was scratched the morning of the race by Kentucky state veterinarians after his connections said he had been battling a foot bruise for several days. He was unable to race in the Preakness Stakes, because a veterinary scratch triggers an automatic entry to the vet's list for 14 days and requires a workout and blood test for removal from the list.

Forte is now reported to be targeting the G1 Belmont Stakes.

Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.

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