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Samples Taken at Santa Anita May Reveal Illegal Drug

February 04, 1988|BILL CHRISTINE

NEW YORK — The California Horse Racing Board has found that 2 of about 90 post-race urine samples recently taken at Santa Anita are "suspicious" and may contain buprenorphine, a powerful stimulant and painkiller.

Len Foote, executive director of the racing board, said that the two samples are being further analyzed to see if there is "detailed, confirmatory" evidence of the illegal drug.

The 90 samples were originally sent to a laboratory in St. Joseph, Mich., which is supposed to have more sophisticated equipment.

"That lab told us that it flagged 10 to 15% of the samples," Foote said. "But it wouldn't tell us what they were flagged for, and because the lab was interested in getting the full-time contract for California testing, it refused to discuss the tests further. We then had the samples sent back here, analyzed them ourselves and found that two are suspicious."

Officials at the Michigan laboratory could not be reached for comment.

In New Mexico, more than 20 quarter horse and thoroughbred trainers have been suspended--some of them for life--after a wave of positive post-race tests for illegal drugs. Many of the positive samples there contained buprenorphine.

"Usually when a test is called suspicious, it means that it has gone through a screen and is positive, but it's not enough evidence to hold up in court," said Harris Hartz, chairman of the New Mexico Racing Commission. "We found that about 50% of the suspicious samples came back definitely positive."

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