Four racehorse trainers accused of doping and banned from Remington Park are asking an Oklahoma County judge to force the track to allow them to participate in the spring quarter horse season.
Oklahoma trainers Robert Dimitt, Rodney Harmon and Jeffery Heath Reed and Texas trainer Karl Broberg allege their constitutional rights to due process have been violated by Remington Park.
The trainers were barred from the racetrack for the upcoming season before being found guilty of anything and are unfairly being smeared as horse dopers, said John Mac Hayes, attorney for three of the trainers.
The trainers have asked District Judge Bill Graves for a temporary restraining order against Remington Park to prevent the track from barring them from the spring quarter horse season, which begins March 8.
“In Oklahoma, if you are a horse trainer and are going to make a living, you have to race at Remington Park in March, April and May or you are not going to survive,” Hayes said.
A hearing was held in Oklahoma County District Court on Friday, and Graves took the request under advisement.
Two trainers — Dimitt and Harmon — were banned from participating in the upcoming quarter horse season at Remington Park because of pending medication violations before the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, according to the lawsuit.
Dimitt trained “a horse or horses” that competed at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore last fall that tested positive for an unauthorized Class II substance, court records show.
“These alleged medication violations are routine,” Hayes said. “They happen all the time. You can get a medical violation for the stuff you just rub on their legs.”
Last spring, Harmon trained a horse at Remington Park that tested positive for Demorphin, an unauthorized Class I substance, according to court records.
Neither trainer has yet to have a steward's hearing on the alleged violations, the first step of the legal process, Hayes said.
After that hearing, the plaintiffs can contest the allegations before the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission and then appeal to district court, if necessary, Hayes said.
Reed was found guilty in New Mexico for medication violations involving Demorphin in race horses. His license to train horses in New Mexico was suspended, court records show.
Reed, however, obtained a court order in New Mexico to prevent enforcement of that suspension until his appeals could be heard, Hayes said.
Demorphin is a supercharged painkiller that is drawn from a type of South American frog and is said to be 40 times more powerful then morphine.
According to a story in The New York Times last summer, 35 horses in four states (Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana) have tested positive for Demorphin.
Hayes questions the validity of the testing for the drug.
“It's not been subject to peer review,” he said.
Broberg was barred by Remington Park because he was denied privileges of “The American Stud Book” for one year because of past medication violations, according to the lawsuit.
The book, maintained by The Jockey Club, is a database that ensures correct pedigree and identification of thoroughbred horses.
Hayes accuses Remington Park of overstepping its authority in barring the trainers from the racetrack before they have been given an opportunity to clear their names.
In its response to the lawsuit filed in Oklahoma County District Court, Remington Park claims it has authority to deny access to trainers “who have been suspended by other entities or who have unresolved positive tests for certain banned, performance-enhancing substances ... That is an eminently rational decision.”
Kym Koch Thompson, spokesperson for Remington Park, said Tuesday that the racetrack clearly communicates to all horse owners that it reserves the right to deny access to anyone to run at the track for any reason, except those which are expressly prohibited by law.
“Our decisions to deny access are on a case-by-case basis,” she said.