LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Two investigations into the use of
anti-bleeding medication in horses were dropped after a state
veterinarian mistakenly threw out blood samples needed in the
Lafe Nichols, the chief veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse
Racing Authority, misinterpreted information from the authority's
contract laboratory at Iowa State University, authority Executive
Director Lisa Underwood said.
Underwood called the mistake unacceptable, but said she was
pleased the veterinarian acknowledged it rather than try to hide
"I did it," Nichols said in a telephone interview. "I'm
responsible. I understand what happened."
The incident stems from a determination that five horses in
Kentucky competed with impermissible amounts of anti-bleeding
medication in recent months. After a relatively small number of
overages since Kentucky implemented tougher medication rules almost
two years ago, those positive results have led some to question the
authority's testing processes.
Bobby Frankel, one of the five trainers implicated, paid a fine
after follow-up testing at another lab found a horse of his had too
much of the drug in its system. The other trainers involved, Bob
Holthus, Mike Maker, Bob Pincins and Mike Tomlinson, have denied
Underwood said she could not say which cases have been dismissed
because the authority does not discuss individuals' names until the
investigation is finished. The remaining three cases are going
forward, Underwood said.
Under state regulations, horses may receive furosemide for a
race, but it must be administered at least four hours before post
Samples of a horse's urine and blood are taken in post-race
testing, then divided, with one set sent to Iowa State for testing
and the other secured in a refrigerator by the authority
If the Iowa State lab confirms a suspicious finding, a trainer
or owner can request that the sample kept by the authority be
tested by a different, state-approved lab.
In these cases, the Iowa State lab said only that testing was
done and the results given to the authority, Underwood said.
Nichols mistook that for an "all-clear" and discarded the samples
from the month covered by Iowa State's message, she said.
The error came to light when Rick Fischer, a veterinarian for
Pincins who was designated as a representative for the trainers
involved, went with Nichols to get the samples to be sent to
Fischer said it's unfair to proceed with investigations of two
other trainers, including his client, Pincins, when the two whose
samples were lost are having their cases dismissed.
Since the error, the authority changed the way it handles
samples, Underwood said. Samples where initial testing yields a
suspicious result will be segregated in the refrigerator from other
samples, Underwood said.
Also, Nichols said Iowa State is changing the wording on the
report in question and "we will have a different understanding of
what their wording means, so that it is not confused ever again."
Information from: The Courier-Journal,
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)