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Trainer: Charges to Be Dropped : Horse racing: Aguilera had been accused of running a horse that later tested positive for cocaine.

April 21, 1991|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Southland trainer Humberto Aguilera says state charges filed against him after one of his horses tested positive for cocaine will be dropped.

Aguilera, who was arrested by Inglewood police after a scuffle at his barn at Hollywood Park March 8, said in a telephone interview Saturday that Ingrid Fermin, a state medication steward, told him that the California Horse Racing Board would drop the charges.

Fermin, reached at her office at Santa Anita, declined to comment, referring questions to Dennis Hutcheson, executive secretary of the racing board. Attempts to reach Hutcheson were unsuccessful, and Roy Minami, Hutcheson's assistant, also declined to comment.

Aguilera, 40, had been accused of running a horse, Rearrange, who tested positive for cocaine after finishing third in a race at Santa Anita on Feb. 13. Aguilera said he sent a split urine sample to Cornell University, which tests horses in New York, and that Fermin told him it came back negative.

In a related development, trainer Bill Stepp said that he received a letter from Cyrus J. Rickards, a California deputy attorney general, asking if Stepp would consider accepting a penalty that wouldn't involve a suspension.

Stepp's horse, Hagley's Lion, tested positive for cocaine after running second in a race at Del Mar in August. After calling Rickards, Stepp said he was offered a $500 fine, a three-month suspended sentence and one year on probation. Stepp says he told Rickards that this penalty was not acceptable.

In a similar case earlier this year, trainer Tommy Richardson was fined $1,000, given a three-month suspended sentence and put on probation for the rest of the year. Richardson has appealed the ruling.

In an executive session scheduled for this Thursday, the California racing board is scheduled to review cases involving 14 trainers whose horses tested positive for illegal medications.

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