As things stand now, two of the best-known quarter horse trainers in New Mexico can’t step foot on a horse racing track in the state for a long, long time.
Over the weekend, Jeffrey Heath Reed and Carlos Sedillo were found in violation of the rules and regulations for trainers by stewards working with the authority of the New Mexico Racing Commission, with Reed receiving a 21-year suspension and loss of purse and Sedillo receiving a 10-year suspension and loss of purse.
Reed was also fined $23,000 for four instances of horses the stewards and lab tests deemed to have the powerful painkilling drug dermorphin in their systems as well as instances of horses having the banned steroid stanozolol in their systems.
Sedillo received a $10,000 fine for two instances of horses testing positive for dermorphin.
“If they want to gamble, we’re going to go after them,” Racing Commission Director Vince Mares told Capitol Report New Mexico by phone on Monday (Oct. 1). “If they want to cheat, we’re going after them.”
Both Sedillo and Reed have 20 days if they want to file an appeal.
The fines and suspensions come just a week after another well-known trainer in New Mexico, John Bassett, received a 10-year suspension and $10,000 fine for two dermophin positives found in his horses.
New Mexico horse racing has been rocked by a series of stories alleging that the state’s tracks are rife with doping of horses. In response, the Racing Commission has issued a string of decisions aimed at beefing up its ability to test and track down violators.
Reed and Sedillo are well-known around New Mexico horse racing circles and they’ve been very successful trainers.
Reed was the sixth-ranked trainer by money-won in North America in 2011 and this year, he and Sedillo’s horses combined to win seven of the 25 qualifying races for the All American Futurity, the Super Bowl of quarter horse racing. But all seven were found to have dermorphin in their systems and last month, two horses had to be euthanized after breaking down — including the winner of one qualifier, a 2-year-old named Jess A Zoomin, which was trained by Reed and had tested positive for dermorphin back in May.
Dermorphin is sometimes called “frog juice” because in its pure state, it’s derived from the backs of South American tree frogs. It is believed to be more powerful than morphine. The thinking behind giving a horse painkillers is to allow a horse to “run through” any injuries it may have. But by doing so, the horses run the risk of breaking down, which often results in them having to be destroyed.
Just like Bassett, Sedillo and Reed were fined the maximum amount for dermorphin ($5,000 per case). Reed’s fine included the maximum of $1,500 per case for the using of a banned steroid.
The Racing Commission wants to increase fines to $50,000 per violation — the same as the Association of Racing Commissioners International can levy — but in order to increase drug testing and/or stiffen penalties, the commission needs legislation to get signed into law and receive funding from the Roundhouse.