LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- While an investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority following a search of the Keeneland barns of trainer Patrick Biancone continues, the state's chief steward, John Veitch, said Wednesday that a formal stewards' hearing is imminent.
"As soon as we have all the evidence, a private hearing before the stewards will be scheduled," Veitch said Wednesday at Churchill Downs.
While confirming that all three barns where Biancone has horses at Keeneland were searched last Friday, June 22, Veitch said he could not comment further on "any aspect or detail" of the investigation. Lisa Underwood, the executive director of the authority, said that investigators also searched the truck of Biancone's vet, Dr. Rod Stewart. She declined to comment on whether any of Biancone's horses had tested positive recently for a banned medication.
"What I can say is that we believe it was the right time to conduct the searches," Underwood said.
Biancone declined comment on the matter. Efforts to reach Stewart were unsuccessful on Wednesday.
Biancone has about 75 horses at Keeneland. Biancone, 55, began training more than 30 years ago and was the leading trainer at the 2006 fall and 2007 spring meets at Keeneland.
This is not the first time Biancone has come under scrutiny from racing authorities. He left his native France in the late 1980s, and spent most of the 1990s in Hong Kong. He was suspended there in 1999 when two of his horses tested positive for banned medications, and eventually made his way to the United States.
One of his horses, Iron Butterfly, also has a medication positive pending for salmeterol, a bronchodilator, from a January race in Southern California, where many of his best horses spent last winter.
Five fined for Lasix overages
Five trainers have been fined $250 each by the Kentucky stewards after their horses tested positive for as much as 10 times the permissible amount of the bleeder medication Lasix in postrace samples. Those trainers - Bobby Frankel, Bob Holthus, Mike Maker, Mike Tomlinson, and Robert Pincins - intend to pay their fines, but some are questioning the validity of the testing procedures that found such high levels. Postrace testing for Kentucky racing is conducted at Iowa State University.
As in most states, horses racing in Kentucky may receive up to 10 cubic centimeters of Lasix, which must be administered at least four hours before a race.
Maker said he accepted the fine for the overage while adding, "It's a very strange deal to have that many Lasix overages at one meet, especially with some as high as they were."
Underwood said that the authority had reviewed Iowa State's testing procedures and interviewed veterinarians and chemists about the potential for the test results to be in error. She said the inquiry turned up nothing.
- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty