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3 champion race horses test positive - By Shailendra Awasthi I TNN

Posted on - 09 Jan 2011

3 champion race horses test positive

By Shailendra Awasthi TNN 

Mumbai: In a development that has sent shockwaves through the racing fraternity, three top horses—Ocean and Beyond, Star Future and Eloise—belonging to three top trainers at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse have tested positive for the prohibited substance ‘boldenone’. The substance was detected in the urine samples of the horses taken after their top-three position finish in the first two classic races of the Mumbai Season last month. 
    Ocean and Beyond, India’s leading colt, and Star Future had finished first and second, respectively, in the Indian 2000 Guineas run on December 19. Eloise, one of the top-rated fillies, had come in third in the Indian 1000 Guineas run on December 12. It’s the first time that three leading horses from the stables of acclaimed trainers, including Pesi Shroff, have come under the scanner.
    While Pune Derby winner Ocean and Beyond belongs to trainer Sheraz Sunderji, Star Future is trained by Cooji Katrak. Both colts are the property of Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and Prem Tharani, representing Wadhawan Livestock Private Limited. 
    Eloise is trained by Shroff and owned by Vijay Shirke and K N Dhunjibhoy, representing Five Stars Shipping Company Private Limited and Berjis Minoo Desai. 
Ocean And Beyond (left) and Star Future finishing in the first two positions in  
The Indian 2000 Guineas at the Mahalaxmi Race Course, last month.
    Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) chairman Vivek Jain expressed surprise at the development. “For three horses to test positive in successive classics is both intriguing and unprecedented,” said Jain. “I’m confident the stewards will conduct a fair and through inquiry,” he added. The trainers also expressed disbelief. 
    The last famous horse to have tested positive was Saddle Up, owned by Vijay Mallya and trained by Imtiaz Sait in 1999. Saddle Up tested positive after winning the biggest race of the country, the Indian Derby. 
    In 2008, a filly called Yana, the winner of Indian Oaks, tested positive and was disqualified. It was owned by Jaydev Modi. 
  The testing of the urine samples of the horses taken after their winning races were done at Horse Racing Forensic Laboratory, New Market, UK. “The three horses have tested positive at the UK lab. A copy of the report will be handed over to the trainers and further enquiry will be conducted,” said Shivlal Daga, the chairman of stewards, Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC). 
    The trainers now have an option of either accepting the verdict or going for another set of testing at a RWITC-approved laboratory. If the second test is also found positive, the trainers will be given 15 days to conduct their own inquiry at their stables while the RWITC stipendiary stewards and a senior vet conduct an independent inquiry simultaneously. 
     At this stage the horses would be disqualified and the race results will be revised. The dividends that were distributed for the races though will remain unaffected. 
    After both the inquiries, the scale of punishment will be decided. Since ‘boldenone’ is a Class III drug as per the RWITC, the punishment ranges from withdrawal of the trainer’s licence for one and a half years to 30 days, a fine of Rs 10,000 and disqualification of the horse. 
    Trainers Shroff and Sunderji were taken aback. “I’m very surprised,” said Shroff. “But since the matter is under investigation, I cannot say anything more,” added the master trainer. Trainer Katrak could not be reached. 
        Tharani, the co-owner of both Ocean and Beyond and Star Future, echoed him. “I’m out of town but have spoken to my trainers. They are also surprised. Since the inquiry is on, it will not be correct to comment further,” said Tharani. Shirke, the co-owner of Eloise, said: “I’ve just heard about it. The detection of the same substance in three top horses within a week is really strange. I can’t say anything else at this stage.” 

    Boldenone is an anabolic steroid used for racehorses to make their muscles build up faster and to make them train harder. 
    Ocean And Beyond won stakes of Rs 36,18,000 and Star Future pocketed Rs 11,45,700 for finishing first and second in Indian 2000 Guineas. Eloise earned Rs 4,00,050 for taking third place in Indian 1000 Guineas. Now their owners will have to return the stakes money. The betting money, which runs in crores, will not be affected. 
    Since horses don’t inject drugs on their own, they aren’t at fault. They are, therefore, not stopped from running but they run the risk of getting caught again if the drug stays in their system. 
    The trainers if found guilty will be suspended and their horses will be handed over to other trainers as per the wish of respective owners. But until the enquiry is complete and the punishment is handed out, trainers too can continue. The current enquiry might take more than a month to complete which means all these trainers can run their horses in coming classics, namely Indian Oaks (Jan 23) and Indian Derby (February 6). 
    Saddle Up owned by Vijay Mallya was disqualified after winning Indian Derby in 1999. Yana, owned by Jaydev Modi, was disqualified after winning Indian Oaks in 2008. 
    Ocean And Beyond is winner of Pune Derby 2010 and start as favourite in the Indian Derby to be run on February 6 . Eloise and Star Future are frontline contenders in classic races

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