Trainer Given Yearlong Suspension in Cobra Venom Case

 Kentucky racing stewards have suspended trainer Patrick Biancone for one year for numerous violations of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority's medication regulations following a hearing Oct. 4. The suspension begins Oct. 15.

KHRA executive director Lisa Underwood said Biancone might appeal the ruling, which would be heard before the full KHRA membership. Underwood said the 55-year-old French-born trainer was informed of the ruling the morning of Oct. 5 and has yet to file an appeal.

Biancone has 14 horses entered at Keeneland during its opening weekend, Oct. 5-7, including Irish Smoke, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Oct. 5 Darley Alcibiades Stakes. Others he is expected to saddle include Slew's Tiznow in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity Oct. 6, and grade I winner Asi Siempre, who Oct. 7 will be looking for a repeat win in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes.

The suspension was ordered following an investigation into items seized during a June 22 search of three of Biancone's barns at Keeneland. The vehicle of Biancone's veterinarian, Dr. Rodney Stewart, was searched the same day.

Biancone was suspended for one year for possession on the grounds of Keeneland of three sealed vials of alpha-cobratoxin (cobra venom), a Class A medication under the KHRA Uniform Drug and Medication Classification Schedule. The alpha cobratoxin was in a bag found in a refrigerator labeled with Stewart's name.

Biancone was also suspended for a variety of violations relating to possession of medications without proper labeling and possession of injectables. He received 30 days for each violation involving injectables and 30 days for the labeling violations. The suspensions may be served concurrently with the one year he was suspended for the alpha-cobratoxin violation.

Biancone was also found to have violated a Kentucky regulation that requires him to report violations of the medication rules by Stewart. The stewards decided after their hearing that Biancone had reason to believe Stewart was in possession of alpha-cobratoxin on Keeneland property June 22, a violation of the Kentucky regulations. Biancone failed to report that violation to the KHRA veterinarian or the stewards, as is required by the Kentucky regulation.

The penalty for non-reporting is a one-year suspension. The suspension for non-reporting may also be served concurrently.

"The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority is committed to ensuring the highest level of integrity for Kentucky's signature industry and sport," said Underwood. "The stewards' ruling sends a clear message to all industry stakeholders and participants that violations of this nature will not be tolerated."

Biancone completed a 15-day suspension Sept. 19 for a medication violation related to a May 3 race at Churchill Downs. Last month he was also fined $10,000 by California stewards and received a stay of 15-day suspension on condition that he incur no other violations within a year of the Sept. 5 ruling on a medication violation incurred Jan. 7 at Santa Anita.

Stewart was suspended for a total of five years for possession of three sealed vials of alpha-cobratoxin, carbidopa and levodopa, which are Class A medications under the KHRA Uniform Drug and Medication Classification Schedule, as well as a variety of violations relating to possession of medications without proper labeling and a reporting violation. Stewart's suspension is under appeal.

Stewart is also currently under suspension by racing stewards for failing to cooperate in a KHRA investigation.

The investigation by the KHRA regarding the search of Biancone's barns and Stewart's vehicle is ongoing.

(Originally published at  

About the Author

Leslie Deckard

Leslie Deckard is a former staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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