Drug Positives Lead to December Suspensions for Two Leading Trainers

Trainer Scott Lake, who currently leads the nation with 528 wins for the year, and two-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher, who leads in earnings with a record-setting $27,427,878, are both to begin serving suspensions for medication infractions during the month of December.

Lake was suspended for 30 days, to be served Dec. 24 through Jan. 22 of 2007, by order of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. The suspension was handed down because of a clenbuterol positive in one of Lake's trainees, Zeal Power, who had traces of the prohibited bronchodilator in his system after finishing third in the second race at Aqueduct on April 12. The trainer withdrew his appeal of the suspension and will pay a $1,000 fine, stewards said Dec. 16.

Lake is already 19 days into the fulfillment of a previous 30-day suspension handed down from the Delaware Park Thoroughbred Racing Commission when one of his horses, Secret Run, tested positive for the drug after winning Delaware's fifth race on June 7. He began to serve that suspension on Nov. 27 after losing an appeal before a Delaware Superior Court. It was the trainer's second clenbuterol positive of the Delaware meet; he also had clenbuterol positives in March at Philadelphia Park and Aqueduct, and one in July at Belmont Park.

Meanwhile, Pletcher's 45-day suspension is to be served Dec. 18 through Jan. 31 by order of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. Pletcher was handed the suspension when traces of mepivacaine, a Class 2 local anesthetic, were found in the system of his trainee Tales of Glory. The horse finished first in the third race at Saratoga on Aug. 14 of 2004, but was ruled unplaced when the drug was discovered.

Pletcher took the case before a New York state appeals court, but the court upheld the Racing Board's suspension and a $3,000 fine on Dec. 7. Pletcher said he will now pursue the matter in federal court, but chose to serve the suspension now rather than wait for the results of his final appeal and risk having to take the days during the highly-competitive spring or summer months. He plans to transfer supervision of his New York string to assistant Seth Benzel, while his Florida horses will go to assistant Anthony Sciametta Jr. and his horses in Southern California will be trained by assistant Michael McCarthy.

"I think there have been some other similar positive tests that were dismissed before they ever got heard," 39-year-old Pletcher told The Daily Racing Form. "Because of that, I don't think we've been treated fairly. Hopefully, when it's all said and done... our name will be cleared."

About the Author

Claire Novak

Winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award for Feature/Commentary and the 2008 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Sports Writing, Claire Novak has melded her love for human-interest journalism and the equine breed into a successful Turf writing career. Since her first freelance article on racing was published at BloodHorse.com in 2005, her byline has appeared in the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, and on ESPN.com, among others. She lives near Lexington and, when not writing about racing, can often be found jumping her Thoroughbred, Bob.

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