Just Another Day In Pennsylvania: Sketchy Supplements, Class 1 Substances, And Commission Silence

POSTED ON  |  12-04-2019

Blood collection
A series of drug positives issued by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission in early February raised a few eyebrows, including those on the face of trainer Gerald Lee Jr. Lee, who has been in the Standardbred business some 30 years, has maintained a small stable and stayed on the right side of the Pennsylvania rulebook for most of that time. He had just one ruling against him in the state previously, a $200 fine stemming from a late driver change on one of his horses four years ago. In late 2018, he suddenly found himself the recipient of four positive tests for strychnine, a Class 1 drug in the Association of Racing Commissioners International's uniform classification of foreign substances. Lee said he was as surprised by the news as anyone.

Strychnine was detected in the post-race samples of Twin B Wrangler after he won the third race at The Meadows on Nov. 10, 2018, the tenth race on Nov. 26, and the seventh race on Dec. 1. It was also found in Daenerys Hanover, winner of the fourth race at The Meadows on Nov. 13, 2018. The positives were all confirmed after split sample testing.

Best known for its lethal effects in rat poison, strychnine isn't a particularly common finding in post-race drug tests. It has no known medicinal uses, though in the late 1800s it was used as a performance enhancer and recreational stimulant in humans for its action as a convulsant. It works by stimulating nerve endings in the spinal cord which control muscle contraction, ultimately overstimulating muscles and asphyxiating the recipient.

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