Emtech’s trainer fined after horse tested positive for painkiller

Emtech hurt at Santa Anita
Track personnel tend to Emtech after he went down in the stretch at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.
(Beth Harris / Associated Press)

Emtech, the 3-year-old colt who had a fatal breakdown on the second day of the current Santa Anita meeting, had tested positive for a painkiller about a month before his death.

On Monday, the Santa Anita stewards issued a $1,500 fine against trainer Steve Knapp, who trained Emtech. The horse had tested positive for an above-legal level of phenylbutazone, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, or NSAID, used to treat pain and inflammation. The ruling by the stewards did not say how much over the limit the horse tested.

The test was administered after the colt finished second in the first race on Aug. 25 at Del Mar.


The California Horse Racing Board has instituted a system where before a horse can run a race, an advisory panel has to determine the soundness of the animal, which includes a thorough look at the horse’s past performances and medical history.

The panel was aware of the violation.

“Dr. [Tim] Grande is the official veterinarian on the panel and an examining veterinarian,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, chief equine medical director for the CHRB. “He had interviewed Knapp and discussed Emtech’s Del Mar NSAID violation as part of standard process prior to Emtech’s race on Sept. 28.”

After years of rancor and threats, Stronach Group and the city of Baltimore have reached a deal to keep the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Oct. 5, 2019

A message left for Knapp was not returned. It was Knapp’s second violation in the last year. He had a horse that also tested positive for an overage of phenylbutazone during a race on Nov. 2 at Los Alamitos.

Emtech ran his first race, a maiden claiming race, on Oct. 6, 2018, at Santa Anita. The horse was claimed but it was voided by the veterinarian when the horse was found to be unsound. He was placed on the Veterinarian’s List. He failed a workout on Oct. 29 that would have taken him off the list.

Emtech was taken off the track in November and returned in May. On June 20, he passed a five-furlong workout and was taken off the Veterinarian’s List.

He was on a special examination list for his races on July 6 at Los Alamitos and Aug. 8 at Del Mar, the race in which he tested positive. He was not on the accelerated examination list for his race on Sept. 28, the day he died.

Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of PETA, said that Knapp “should be banned from racing and investigated by law enforcement.”