The New York State Racing and Wagering Board, after a comprehensive and groundbreaking investigation with assistance from racing officials from New Jersey, has suspended harness trainer Luis (Lou) Pena immediately and indefinitely for illegally drugging horses in nearly 700 races in New York State and amassing more than 1,700 equine drug violations. Thus far this year Pena-trained horses have earned $1.2 million. In 2011 his starters earned $7.1 million, with $7.2 million in purse winnings in 2010.
Among the drugs cited in the ruling were several hormones, steroids, clenbuterol, hylauronic acid and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), therapeutics that were apparently administered too close to race time.
In addition to the immediate suspension, Pena faces a possible revocation of his license to participate in New York State and substantial fines (up to $25,000 per violation). The Board's overall investigation into the matter is ongoing and further actions, including the recovery of more than $2.5 million in purse monies won with horses that were illegally drugged and possible rule changes regarding access and disclosure of veterinary records, are possible.
Pena regularly raced horses between New York while stabling them in New Jersey. New York formed a partnership with New Jersey which allowed for a joint review of veterinarian records. This collaboration between the two state racing agencies led the Racing and Wagering Board to take this unprecedented action. The investigation determined that Pena amassed a total of 1,719 equine drug violations in 675 races between January 2010 and April 2012.
"I applaud and thank NJRC Executive Director Frank Zanzuccki and the entire Racing Commission for partnering with New York State on this important investigation and look forward to continuing the collaboration to bring increased integrity and accountability to horse racing,” said Racing and Wagering Board chairman John D. Sabini.
Pena's drug violations from 2010 to present included a litany of substances, most of which were administered to horses outside the permitted timeframe as set forth by Board rules.
The ruling cited the following drugs found in Pena-trained horses, with multiple drugs in each horse's system, and on numerous occasions. The horses cited in the ruling, include, among others, Western Graduate, Up Front George, Glass Pack, Lightning Dragon, Delightful Diva and LR Dancing Dream.
Andrenocorticotropic (ACTH), hormone
Betamethasone (celestone), steroid
Cromolyn sodium (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, NSAID)
Gonadorelin, or GnRH (Factrel), hormone
Hylauronic Acid derivative
Magnesium sulfate (MAG)
A full copy of the Notice of Suspension and Hearing, which includes a detailed list of the drugs administered, may be found at: http://www.racing.ny.gov/pdf/05_24_12_PenaNotice.pdf.
A hearing into the matter has been scheduled for May 30, 2012.
A partnership with the New Jersey Racing Commission led to comprehensive review of Pena's horses' veterinary records, uncovering a litany of violations. NYSRWB will seek to recover purse monies won with horses that were illegally drugged and will consider possible rule changes regarding veterinary records. (NYSRWB)