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Two Trainers Cited Over ‘Milkshake Cocktails’

Times Staff Writer

Two more trainers have been cited at Santa Anita for running horses who tested with excessive sodium bicarbonate levels in their systems.

Rick Arthur, a veterinarian heading an industry committee that is working to eliminate the so-called “milkshake cocktails,” said Vladimir Cerin’s horses would be placed in a detention barn the day before they run for a 30-day period. Cerin’s own barn would be placed under extra surveillance for 15 days after that.

Another trainer, whom Arthur would not name but who is believed to be Julio Canani, will have his barn placed under surveillance for 45 days. Arthur said he couldn’t name the trainer because the investigation is continuing. Asked about his situation, Canani said: “I’m getting a lawyer. They can come and look at my barn all they want.”

Canani is the trainer of Sweet Catomine, who won the 2-year-old filly title last year after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Sweet Catomine is one of the early favorites for this year’s Kentucky Derby.

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Cerin’s penalty is identical to the action taken by Santa Anita last week against trainer Jeff Mullins. Arthur, who said the three cases involve four races, said that all horses have been tested at Santa Anita this meet, which means that milkshakes have been detected in about one of 600 starters. A milkshake is said to potentially mask other drugs, as well as reduce the horse’s fatigue.

Cerin’s horses that tested for milkshakes are Bless Your Heart, who finished second on Feb. 3, and Smuggler’s Run, who paid $56.80 to win when he ran on Feb. 5. Smuggler’s Run, who had won one of nine starts before that win, hadn’t run since Oct. 13. His recent win came in a claiming race worth $20,000.

“In the next week, I’m going to be running tests on my horses to see if there’s a reasonable explanation for this,” Cerin said. “I’m embarrassed about this, because I’ve been a strong voice in the movement to set up detention barns. I hope we find an explanation, and I completely support the testing program.”

Because milkshake testing is new in California -- it began on a regular basis at Del Mar last year -- the California Horse Racing Board is seeking a racing law change that would result in more severe penalties. As it is, Santa Anita is disciplining trainers under a house rule, but has no authority to disqualify horses and redistribute purse money.


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