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Hearing Oct. 20 for suspended horse vets

Two Ohio veterinarians suspended indefinitely by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Oct. 3 will have a hearing Oct. 20 in Lexington.

The vets, Rick Mather and Rick Rothfuss, were suspended after commission investigators searched their vehicles at The Red Mile harness track and found unlabeled substances. The substances and records were seized; the substances were sent for testing.

A report on the suspension is expected to be made public after the hearing, along with the outcome. Racing commission officials have not said why the vehicles were searched.

The action came a week after The Red Mile began out-of-competition testing for blood-doping agents, commonly referred to as "epo."

Although state racing officials conducted the tests for the racetrack, it is unclear if the search was related to the testing.

At least four horses tested positive for the illegal performance-enhancing drugs, according to Joe Costa, Red Mile president and chief executive officer.

Costa said that 175 samples were taken during the two-week Grand Circuit meet, from 43 different trainers and barns.

He said after the first four positive tests, the state tested every horse in the barns of the four trainers involved, and that two of the four original horses tested positive again.

The blood-doping agents are almost impossible to find in normal pre- and post-race testing. Simple testing can only detect the drugs two or three days after administration but the effects can last for weeks.

Costa said the four trainers, who have not been publicly identified, have requested the blood samples be sent to a lab in New Bolton, Pa., for more analysis. The results are not expected for a few weeks.

Kentucky racing officials have said they cannot charge the trainers or horse owners with any violation because the drugs were found in unauthorized out-of-competition testing.

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