John Sadler, one of the top trainers on the West Coast, was fined $15,000 and suspended for 60 days for three 2019 medication violations involving his horses.

John Sadler Medical Suspension
John Sadler, seen here shaking hands with owner Kosta Hronis after Accelerate won the 2018 Pacific Classic. Sadler will sit out the next 15 days after three of his horses tested positive for banned substances. (Image: Hayne Palmour IV/San Diego Union-Tribune)

The ruling, handed down by the California Horse Racing Board on Sunday, came out of a settlement agreement between the CHRB and Sadler. It stays 45 days of the suspension, provided Sadler has no more Class 1, 2, or 3 violations during a probationary year ending June 28, 2021. His suspension begins Monday and runs through July 13.

According to the ruling, three of Sadler’s horses tested positive for two prohibited drugs, Clenbuterol and Gabapentin, in April and May 2019. Field Bet finished fifth as the favorite in a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Santa Anita Park on April 14, 2019. Jasikan placed third in the $100,000 Singletary Stakes at Santa Anita two weeks later. Sneem won a Golden Gate Fields maiden special weight race on May 10, 2019.

The ruling didn’t specify if all three horses will be disqualified or if any purse money won will be forfeit.

Clenbuterol Helps Breathing, Comes with a Bonus

The CHRB restricted use of Clenbuterol in California horses since Sadler’s violations. The drug, approved by the FDA in 1998 for treating airway obstruction in horses, is primarily used to treat COPD and other respiratory ailments. While it isn’t a steroid, Clenbuterol possesses some properties of anabolic steroids, such as increasing lean muscle mass. It is classified as a Class 3, Penalty B violation under the Association of Racing Commissioners International guidelines.

Gabapentin, a common treatment for shingles and neurological ailments in humans, is used as an analgesic for pain in horses. The Association of Racing Commissioners’ guidelines classify Gabaptentin as a Class 3, Penalty B violation.

Known as a skillful handler of older horses, Sadler won 2,551 races over 15,419 starts. Those victories include the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic with Accelerate and the last three Santa Anita Handicaps.

Hronis Racing LLC., one of Sadler’s primary clients, owned the three horses.

“Over my 40 years as a trainer, I can unequivocally state that I neither administered, nor had any knowledge of the administration of, any prohibited substance to any of my horses,” Sadler said in a statement addressing the sanctions.

The Buck Stops with Sadler

Sadler took full responsibility for the violations. He said two of the cases involved the passive transmission by one of his grooms of a drug prescribed for his use. Sadler said the other concerned detection of a prohibited substance in a horse he claims he didn’t have custody of, or control over.

“Trainers are liable for the condition of their horses, regardless of the acts of third parties,” Sadler said in his statement. “The imposition of the trainer insurer rule requires only the detection of a prohibited substance in an official sample and identification of the trainer of the horse. The trainer insurer rule is not based on actual administration of a drug or negligent care. Fault is not an element of liability under the trainer insurer rule. The incidents covered by the settlement agreement and the penalties imposed under the agreement reflect the fact that these incidents resulted from circumstances beyond my contro, but which, nonetheless, are my responsibility.”

The website shows these are Sadler’s first medication violations since 2017. That year, he was fined $500 for a Class 4 muscle relaxant, Dantrolene, turning up in one of his horses. He was fined in 2013 for a Flunixin overage, and twice in 2011 for Methocarbamal violations.


  1. Why was trainer A.L. Diaz was never suspended nor fined when he had 2 same offense a few years back. It was on the CHRB complaint section. And there were a number of trainers that was never fined. All ruling should be uniform. good thing I don’t play California tracks no more.

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