A new horse-racing scandal to ponder over your morning coffee, this one touching one of quarter-horse racing’s biggest events:
RUIDOSO DOWNS, N.M. (AP) — The winner of the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs last month has tested positive for caffeine, officials with the New Mexico Racing Commission say.
That could jeopardize the $1 million purse won by the owner of Stolis Winner, the Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday in a copyright story. If the finding is upheld, Jerry Windham of College Station, Texas, could be required to return the purse.
New Mexico racing regulations do not allow any amount of caffeine in race horses, said the Racing Commission’s executive director, Julian Luna. He said urine from all 10 horses in the futurity were tested after the race, and only Stolis Winner turned up positive.
Notices for a Nov. 15 hearing on the matter were sent out this week, Luna said. Because New Mexico has a trainer responsibility rule, racing stewards notified trainer Heath Taylor to appear at the hearing.
Windham told the Journal he had heard rumors about caffeine turning up in the test, but had not officially been notified there might be a problem.
He said it’s ludicrous to think anyone would risk a $1 million purse by giving caffeine to a top-performing horse.
“I know this, if there was any caffeine, it didn’t go through his system,” said Windham, a past president of the American Quarter Horse Association.
“It had to be a contaminant” in the test sample from another source, he said.
Caffeine has the same effect on horses as it has on humans — “It jazzes them up,” said Susan Vescovo, vice president of the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association.
Racing Commission regulations list caffeine as a Class 2 substance, which has “a high potential for affecting the outcome of a race,” according to guidelines on which the regulations are based.
Penalties recommended for Class 2 violations including a suspension of six months to a year, a fine of $1,500 to $2,500 and loss of a purse.