Maryland-based thoroughbred trainer Dale Mills has received a 45-day suspension from the New Jersey Racing Commission after Testafly tested positive for clenbuterol following a third-place finish to Skip Away in the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park on Aug. 30.
A spokesman for the commission yesterday confirmed the penalty, which would begin March 19, the opening of the New Jersey season, and Mills said the New Jersey stewards have informed him.
Alan Foreman, attorney for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said that, pending a conversation with Mills, he probably will not appeal the action, which culminates a dragged-out process that included an initial proposal of a 75-day suspension.
Foreman balked at that, citing similar cases in which trainers running in New Jersey were handed 45-day suspensions. Earlier, he said that Mills and owner J. D. Brown thought they were being singled out because they are black.
"My reaction at this point is that at least they are treating Dale the way they have treated others with similar violations," Foreman said. "I'm glad the stewards did the right thing."
But Foreman again questioned the lack of uniformity among states in the case of the controversial medication -- a breathing aid -- that cannot be administered on racing days.
"Their penalty is still way out of line with other jurisdictions," he said of New Jersey. "Maryland's is 15 days, New York and Delaware's is 30 days. This is a legal and therapeutic drug."
Testafly's owner, boxing promoter Brown, told the Daily Racing Form that he is not happy with the suspension, despite the reduction in days.
"There is no question that this is a bad rap," he said. "It's a joke. The evidence of the drug was there, but we have no idea how it got there. This is a Lasix situation all over again. Lasix was legalized and you know that clenbuterol will be next. Maybe even next year. But it won't get Dale his 45 days back."
Mills said: "We're all a little upset about the whole thing. I have to serve this when Jersey is running; I can't do it now. I don't $H understand why I have to wait until they start. I'm going to hate to miss the Pimlico meet because it's usually a good one for me."
He would have preferred to serve the penalty now when the quality of racing tapers off for the winter, the weather for training deteriorates and many horses are given a rest until spring.
"The Maryland rule is the realistic one," Mills said. "But you've got so many to remember because you might be racing horses in four or five different states here in the East. And some of these rules are so hidden, you can't keep up with them. None of them is ever posted at a racetrack."
Pub Date: 12/15/98