LOS ANGELES — Horse trainer Jose De La Torre had a trial-court decision overturned in his favor in a lawsuit brought against the California Horse Racing Board, according to a news release on PaulickReport.com.
The decision was handed down Jan. 25 by the 2nd District Court of Appeal, according to court documents. In its opinion, the court stated that the “...allegations against and findings of regulatory violations by De La Torre had no legal basis, and the penalties imposed upon him were equally invalid.”
De La Torre was accused of four separate medication violations by the California Horse Racing Board in 2014, according to Phil Laird, staff counsel for the California Horse Racing Board. Laird also said that Clenbuterol was the medication De La Torre was alleged to have over-used on horses under his care. Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator. The CHRB revoked De La Torre’s license and fined him $160,000. The CHRB banned Clenbuterol entirely in 2016.
“It was at a time when there was a growing abuse of Clenbuterol,” Laird told the Northern California Record. “The action the board took was pursuant to our board rule. The board had the authority to temporarily suspend any unauthorized medication. At the time, Clenbuterol was permitted in horses. The board took the action to suspend Clenbuterol in quarter horses, in quarter-horse racing, and did multiple substitute suspensions for all breeds of horses, while they were determining the extent and nature of either the potential abuse and misuse of the drug.”
“Obviously we’re disappointed with the ruling. We would have wished for a different outcome. There are certain elements of the decision that we certainly disagree with,” Laird said.
Medications are often used in horse racing, he said.
“There are a lot of therapeutic uses for medications that are appropriately and legitimately used. Obviously, there is the occasional misuse or abuse of a drug. Sometimes, it’s purposeful,” Laird said.
The CHRB monitors horse-racing results to try and prevent medication abuse.
“We test the winner of every race and at least a few other horses after every race,” Laird said. “Pursuant to our rules, there are certain medications they can have in their system, up to a certain limit. Any amount beyond that would be a violation.”
Medications are sometimes used illegally to help a horse win.
“If it’s done purposefully, the purpose is to somehow gain an advantage,” Laird said. “Different medications obviously have different effects. Some medications may have more steroidal type components that increase muscle. Other medications might have pain masking effects where they can kind of mask a natural soreness or discomfort to a horse so it can ignore than when it’s running.”
Laird says the CHRB hasn’t decided if it will appeal the decision.
“The ruling overturned the board’s action on a technicality,” he said. “They basically came to the conclusion that the board didn’t have the authority to initiate multiple temporary suspensions. So it was the fact these penalties were found after they had temporarily suspended Clenbuterol for a third time that was the violation. Since then they have formally prohibited any amount of Clenbuterol.”