Due to 60% of the field for Friday’s Sam Houston Futurity at Sam Houston Race Park testing positive for either banned substances clenbuterol or albuterol, the track suspended wagering on the Grade 2 Quarter Horse race.

Sam Houston Race Park-Futurity drugs
Sam Houston Race Park officials suspended racing on one of its marquee Quarter Horse races after six of 10 horses tested positive for banned substances. (Image: Sam Houston Race Park)

The Quarter Horse race for 2-year-olds at the Texas track will run without betting. Horses in the field will run for shares of the $731,650 purse only. Track officials said in a statement announcing the results they were suspending betting “to protect the interest of the wagering public.”

Even at this level, with horse racing under siege on numerous fronts — from Bob Baffert’s positive test for his Kentucky Derby champion Medina Spirit to tiny stakes racing fields at Santa Anita Park – the wagering public is in danger of losing interest. Suspending wagering on a marquee race like this illustrates how serious officials take this latest drug broadside.

This latest incident happened when the Texas Racing Commission performed two separate drug tests on the qualifiers for the Sam Houston Futurity. They took post-race blood and urine samples during qualifying for the prestigious Quarter Horse race on May 7 and May 8. On May 15, they took hair samples for testing.

All Sam Houston Futurity entrants first test negative

The TRC said in a release that all 10 qualifying participants tested negative before the May 21 entry deadline for the Sam Houston Futurity Finals. On Wednesday, the Paulick Report reported that six of the 10 qualifiers tested positive for either clenbuterol or albuterol. The TRC forbids both of these drugs for any horses racing in the state.

Two of the results were inconclusive and two came back negative. Sam Houston officials said they took split samples of the six positive horses and the two inconclusive horses on May 26. In a release, track officials say they stopped accepting future entries from the trainers of the horses testing positive. They did not specify the names of those trainers or the horses.

Not what horse racing needs right now

This incident comes close on the heels of Baffert’s fifth medication violation in a year, which threw the Kentucky Derby results into question. It also comes on the heels of trainer John Sadler’s graded-stakes-winning gelding Flagstaff testing positive for bisphosphonate – a drug used to treat navicular syndrome in horses. That syndrome causes forelimb lameness.

The California Horse Racing Board banned bisphosphonates last July. According to the CHRB complaint against Sadler, Flagstaff tested positive for the drug after his runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championships last September. A split sample duplicated the initial test’s positive result.

Sadler is already on probation, courtesy of an agreement reached with the CHRB last June. That came after he took three medication violations in April and May of 2019. He received a 60-day suspension, with 45 days stayed if Sadler’s horses remained clean of Class 1, 2, or 3 violations while he was on probation. That probation ends on June 28.

We last saw Flagstaff win the Churchill Downs Stakes on the Derby undercard. That was the 7-year-old gelding’s first Grade 1 victory.

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