Kentucky stewards suspend Asmussen for drug overages

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen was handed down a pair of suspensions by Kentucky stewards on Friday as a result of two horses that tested above the allowable level for the muscle relaxer acepromazine in 2018.

Asmussen received $3,500 in fines in addition to the suspensions, which are to be served concurrently from Dec. 20 to Jan. 18. Another 30-day suspension was stayed on the condition that Asmussen not commit a Class A or B medication violation within the next year.

While suspended, Asmussen will be barred from all facilities under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and all horses owned or trained by Asmussen are denied entry “pending transfer to persons acceptable to the stewards.”

Typically, a barn's top assistant trainer becomes the conditioner of record in such situations, as other jurisdictions are likely to honor the KHRC's decision. Asmussen operates his main winter string at Fair Grounds in New Orleans and is expected to keep horses at Turfway Park with purses on the rise following Churchill Downs' recent purchase of the Northern Kentucky track.

According to the stewards ruling, Asmussen-trained Thousand Percent tested above the threshold for acepromazine after a win at Churchill Downs on June 28, 2018. ARCI guidelines have an allowable threshold of 10 nanograms per milliliter. In Thousand Percent, 76 ng/ml of acepromazine was found in a post-race urine sample. 

Asmussen's second incidence of an acepromazine overage stemmed from a test on Boldor following a win at Keeneland on Oct. 25, 2018. A post-race urine sample from Boldor registered 17.7 ng/ml of acepromazine. 

Both horses have been disqualified and all purse money forfeited. Stewards wrote in their report that Asmussen must also pay all fines -- $1,000 from the Thousand Percent Overage, and $2,5000 from Boldor's ruling -- within 30 days or risk a summary suspension.  Acepromazine, also known as “ace,” is a sedative that is commonly used on the racetrack to calm horses. Attempts to reach Asmussen for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The rulings can be read in full below:

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