Albert Barrera, who says his career as a trainer may be in jeopardy, plans to appeal any sanctions that may be made against him in the state's widening investigation into the drugging of horses with cocaine.
"A six-month suspension would end my career," Barrera said. "I learned how to train horses from my father, and something I didn't learn from him was to give horses cocaine and other drugs."
Laz Barrera, Albert's father and a member of racing's Hall of Fame, is another of six trainers who are under investigation for having run horses with cocaine in their systems.
The first positive laboratory test came on a horse trained by Roger Stein last October at Santa Anita.
Last week, the names of both Barreras, three-time Eclipse Award winner Wayne Lukas and Bryan Webb and Anthony Hemmerick were added to the list of trainers whose horses have tested positive for cocaine.
Albert Barrera played a part Sunday in what appeared to be an inconsistent decision by the Santa Anita stewards. In effect, the three stewards said that Albert Barrera's horses would have to be transferred to another trainer in order to run anymore, but they are allowing Laz Barrera and Lukas to continue their operations.
In a prepared statement, Len Foote, the executive secretary of the California Horse Racing Board, explained the difference.
"In the case of tests from samples taken as far back as last summer, it is our thinking that the trainers have continued participating for several months in the interim without any positive tests," Foote's statement said. "Obviously, in these cases, there is no clear and present danger that horses now in their stables have been treated with prohibited substances.
" . . . The board of stewards at Santa Anita has checked the stables of trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Laz Barrera and determined the current operations are being conducted within the regulations of the California Horse Racing Board.
"As a result, the two trainers will be allowed to continue racing at this meeting until a formal hearing is held.
"It should be made clear that positive tests for prohibited drugs from \o7 current \f7 samples will continue to be treated with an assumption of clear and present danger, and the board of stewards may prohibit the trainer from further participation for the protection of the public."
Albert Barrera said that two of his horses--one that ran the same day that another horse tested positive and Perceive Arrogance, the second-place finisher in the $500,000 Strub Stakes a week ago, have both tested negative.
"With all this going on, I was really worried about the test on Perceive Arrogance," he said. "If he had tested positive, that would have been the end. The owner (Glen Laken of Chicago) would have lost his $100,000 share of the purse, and I know he would have taken the horse away from me."
Had the stewards indefinitely stopped Lukas and Laz Barrera from running their horses, Santa Anita's racing program would have been severely impacted. Both trainers have full barns and Lukas, operating at tracks coast to coast, runs quality horses in more races than any conditioner in the country.
Lukas and Laz Barrera probably would have sought a court injunction if their horses had been banned.
Albert Barrera, who has only five horses, has hired an attorney and indicates that he will take action similar as Stein.
Stein, who sent all but one of his horses to an assistant, Willie Washington, says he will file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against California racing authorities because of the damage he alleges they've done to his career and reputation.
The Stein and Albert Barrera positives were caught the first time the horses' urine was tested.
The other positives resulted from frozen urine samples that were re-tested after they showed nothing suspicious the first time. The California Horse Racing Board is in the process of re-testing about 10,000 frozen samples.
Albert Barrera's positive resulted from a race earlier this month at Santa Anita.
Laz Barrera and Lukas had positive tests for horses that ran within two days of each other last summer at Del Mar.
The other positives, which all involve thoroughbreds, are from races in September, Webb's horse running in the California State Fair at Sacramento and Hemmerick's at the Los Angeles County Fair at Fairplex Park in Pomona.
Stein, who was suspended for six months and fined $2,000 by Santa Anita stewards shortly after his horse tested positive, has obtained a court injunction and is also appealing the ruling before an administrative law judge assigned by the California Horse Racing Board.
The second day of hearings in the Stein case is scheduled in Los Angeles Tuesday.
Albert Barrera said that he expects a ruling from the Santa Anita stewards after a hearing with them on Feb. 23.