Stinebaugh Handed 16 Year Suspension

Trainer John Stinebaugh handed a 16 year suspension, expected to appeal.

John Stinebaugh.

Longtime trainer John Stinebaugh is expected to file an appeal later this week after receiving a 16 year suspension and $40,000 fine on Saturday from the New Mexico Racing Commission, when four horses in his care tested positive for Sildenafil. The horses competed in Rainbow Futurity and Derby trials at Ruidoso Downs last summer.

Seldenafil is a Class 3 drug that carries the most severe penalty category under drug classification guidelines published by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The New Mexico Racing Commission adopted new, stricter regulations for medication violations in June 2012 that corresponded with RCI guidelines.

Following a hearing on Saturday, four separate rulings were issued by the Sunland Park board of stewards against the trainer. The four horses were My Dancing Angel, fourth-place finisher in the sixth race at Ruidoso Downs on July 5, 2013; Bikinni Bombshell, fourth in the seventh race on July 5; Dynasty Edition, fourth in the eighth race on July 5; and PJ Chick in Black, winner of the first race on July 6. The $23,737 PJ Chick in Black earned in the Rainbow Derby finals was also forfeited.

According to Stinebaugh, the bad tests stemmed from a compounded drug administered to his horses by track veterinarians on a non-race day for bleeding.

"Officials from Weatherford Compounding Pharmacy and ESMS testified that the paste used on my horses last summer contained a contaminated supplement that was mistakenly sent out by a Canadian drug company," Stinebaugh said. "I did not administer anything to my horses."

According to testimony the drug company recalled the contaminated supplement when they discovered what had happened. However several tubes that included the substance in a compound from the Weatherford pharmacy had been sent to Ruidoso and to Prairie Meadows and used on horses by track veterinarians. Testing found the supplement was contaminated with trace levels found to be in parts of trillions of a gram. Stinebaugh said the drug company and pharmacy testified in similar racing commission cases in Iowa after three horses came back with a bad test for Seldenafil. The Iowa Racing Commission cited each of those trainers with a $1,000 administrative fee in those cases.

"The drug company has taken full responsibility for the contamination and has reimbursed owners in both states for more than $30,000 in purse money," Stinebaugh said. "They intend to see this through until this injustice has been righted."

Lisa Johnson, an investigator for the New Mexico Racing Commission, testified that Stinebaugh had signed a New Mexico trainers license that makes him responsible for the complete care of the four horses in contention. The trainer received three-year suspensions and $10,000 fines for each of the first two positive tests and five-year suspensions and $10,000 fines for each of the second two alleged violations. The suspensions are to run consecutively.

Under New Mexico’s regulations, the owners of the four horses were also cited, purses forfeited and redistributed, and the horses placed on the state veterinarian’s list for 90 days, from February 10-May 11. Stinebaugh, who has trained on his own since 1998, has been among AQHA's leading trainers for the past several years while saddling the likes of Champions Double Down Special, PJ Chick In Black, All About Larry, etc.

Stinebaugh's council is expected to release a transcript of the hearing later this week.

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