An explanation of how caffeine showed up in the system of horses trained by Vladimir Cerin was offered Wednesday, the first day of a hearing before Del Mar stewards Dave Samuel, Dennis Nevin and George Slender.
Earlier this month, Cerin was notified by the California Horse Racing Board of six positive tests for caffeine of horses he raced between June 21 and July 13 at Hollywood Park. Caffeine, a stimulant, is listed as Class 2 violation by the CHRB and the guideline penalties for a first offense range from a six-month to one-year suspension and/or a fine of $1,000-$2,500.
In his opening statement, Sam Manfredi, an attorney representing Gregg Anderson, who owns Palmdale, a 7-year-old gelding who had two of the positives, presented two different flavors of a product called Cytomax.
Used by humans and labeled as an exercise recovery drink, Cytomax, according to Manfredi, has been used for the last few years by Cerin as a dietary supplement, which is mixed with the horse’s feed.
Manfredi said that during a period when Cerin was out of town, an assistant trainer purchased orange-flavored Cytomax instead of the apple flavor Cerin normally used because the latter was out of stock.
“He had used the apple-flavored Cytomax on his horses and [Cerin] had never had any test positive before,” said Manfredi. “Right on the label of the orange-flavored Cytomax, it says no added caffeine.”
The orange-flavored Cytomax does contain guarana extract. Guarana, which Manfredi said is a South American plant or root, apparently would show up as caffeine.
“The molecular structure of guarana is similar to caffeine,” the attorney said.
“Clearly, this was no intentional act, there was no culpability and there was no negligence.”
Later, Dr. Scott Stanley, the director of toxicology for Truesdail Laboratories, the CHRB’s official testing laboratory, said no quantitative testing was done on the positive samples, according to Truesdail’s contract with the CHRB.
Manfredi said earlier that the amount of [caffeine] was so small it was equivalent to a teaspoon of coffee and was one-fourth of the amount that would have any effect on a horse. “It was so minuscule it couldn’t have acted as a stimulant,” he said.
Testimony is scheduled to continue this morning. Another hearing is scheduled to begin Wednesday regarding the phenylpropanolamine positive facing trainer Gary Jones.
Made Of Jade, who won the first race on June 7 at Hollywood Park, tested positive for the prohibited decongestant.
Smooth Runner, the colt that some handicappers consider the best turf miler in the country, wasn’t even the best horse in the $75,900 How Now Handicap on Wednesday.
Aiming for his third consecutive victory, Smooth Runner was upset by 12-1 shot Caherdaniel, a newcomer from Louisiana.
Content under Chris Antley with the slow pace set by Caherdaniel, Smooth Runner, the 3-5 favorite, moved up to engage the leader at the top of the stretch and looked like he was going to go by until the winner found more speed and won going away.
Ridden by Alex Solis, who replaced an ill Corey Nakatani, for trainer Robert Marshall and Three Point Stable, Caherdaniel completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 1/5 and won by half a length.
A 4-year-old Tank’s Prospect gelding, Caherdaniel has six victories in 20 starts and has been worse than third only four times.
Sharman was third, followed by Patriotaki and Inner City in a field reduced to five after Hode and Slew Supreme were scratched.
Nakatani lost two other winners Wednesday--Trophy Time, who was ridden by Solis in the first race, and Pretty Neat Gal, who was ridden by Fernando Valenzuela in the fifth.
Longshots dominated the proceedings Wednesday, so there is a Pick Six carry-over of $93,923.40 today. There was only one ticket with five winners and it paid $62,615.60.
The biggest surprise was posted by Yugo Fast, who won the ninth race at $66.20 under Matt Garcia.
Boundless Moment, who finished last in the second division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 26, is the 2-1 favorite in the $75,000 Inverness Drive at 6 1/2 furlongs today.
The 3-year-old Crafty Prospector gelding won the first two races of his life sprinting, then was a troubled third in the Playa Del Rey at Hollywood Park before his ill-fated try around two turns on turf. Eddie Delahoussaye takes over for trainer Kathy Walsh.
Rounding out the field are American Day, Profit Margin, Cold N Calculating, Houston Sunrise, Desert Pirate and Flying Standby.