Trainer Runs Horse to Exhaustion, Has License Revoked

Stewards at Prairie Meadows Racetrack in Altoona, Iowa, have revoked Thoroughbred racehorse trainer Joseph Louis Nealon's trainer's license, saying the action is necessary to "protect the public's health, safety, and welfare and to protect the public from a person who should not hold a trainer's license."

The stewards' ruling came after the Nealon-trained horse Boty's Banana was eased at the three-eighths pole and vanned off during the first race at the Iowa track May 24. Ridden by apprentice Josh Molitor, Boty's Banana was sent off at 76-1 odds in the field of seven contesting a maiden race at 1 mile and 70 yards. According to the stewards' ruling, when questioned by stewards after the race the jockey said Boty's Banana was "ridiculously tired."

State veterinarian David Radechel, DVM, inspected the horse following the race and reported Boty's Banana was "extremely tired and physically corded up" across the back.

According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Nealon has been represented by one winner and one second-place finisher from 71 starters from 1990 to present. Horses he has trained have earned $8,902 during that period.

This was not the first time Nealon had appeared before the stewards with regard to the condition of Boty's Banana. During the first start of her career in 2009, in a 1 mile and 70 yard test at Prairie Meadows, Boty's Banana finished seventh and last, beaten 90 1/2 lengths, the ruling stated. Following that race, jockey Jose O'Farrill said Boty's Banana was "exhausted." He added that he thought his horse Boty's Banana was going to "drop out from under him due to exhaustion."

Taking into account that incident and the fact the mare only had one three furlong work within the calendar year, stewards met with Nealon on the morning of the May 24 and asked for assurances that Boty's Banana was "fit to perform creditably at the distance entered." The ruling said Nealon provided "unconditional assurance that Boty's Banana was fit to race at 1 mile and 70 yards."

After the most recent race, the stewards said they gave Nealon the opportunity to voluntarily surrender his trainer's license on the condition his owner's license would not be affected and that he would not be denied the opportunity to train in another jurisdiction. Nealon declined that offer, the ruling said, and agreed to take a trainer's test consisting of written, oral, and barn examinations. Nealon showed up for the exam, the ruling said, but declined to take the test, leading to the ruling.

The ruling issued May 30 states:

"The board of stewards find, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, owner/trainer Joseph Nealon violated Iowa rules of racing 491 IAC 6.5(3)'I' conduct in Iowa or elsewhere has been dishonest, undesirable, detrimental to, or reflects negatively on, the integrity or best interests of racing and gaming; 491 IAC 6.5(3)'Q' subjecting an animal to cruel and inhumane treatment by failing to supply it with adequate food, water, medical treatment, exercise, bedding, sanitation, and shelter; or by neglect or intentional act causing an animal to suffer unnecessary pain; 491 IAC 10.5(1) Trainer responsibility 'a' (7) the proper identity, custody, care, health, condition, and safety of horses in the trainer's charge and 491 IAC 10.5(1)'A' (22) ensuring the fitness of a horse to perform creditably at the distance entered.

Further the board of stewards has a duty to protect the safety and welfare of not only the jockey and equine athlete, but the wagering public as well. Participation in racing and gaming in the state of Iowa is a privilege, not a right. The board has the authority and duty to ensure every applicant is qualified as licensed to participate in racing. The burden of proving qualification to receive any license is on the applicant at all times {491 IAC 6.2(1)'I.'} (Emphasis added).

Therefore, based upon the totality of Mr. Nealon's aforementioned rule violations, the board hereby revokes Joseph Nealon's IRGC occupational trainer's license. (The board takes no action against Nealon's IRGC occupational owner's license). The revocation of Nealon's license is necessary to protect the public's health, safety, and welfare, and to protect the public from a person who should not hold a trainer's license."

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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