De Francis Dash result “in dispute” after Blu Moon Ace positive
by Frank Vespe
As a result of a positive test on the runner-up, Blu Moon Ace, the result of the 2017 De Francis Dash has been declared “in dispute.” Purse monies affected by the dispute — all purses from second to last — are being held pending the resolution of the case.
The dispute does not affect the winner, Chublicious.
In the De Francis, a Grade 3 event for older horses which took place at Laurel Park September 16, Blu Moon Ace, trained by Kevin Patterson for Robert L. Cole, Jr., sped to the early lead and held the advantage until the shadow of the wire, when Chublicious rallied to prevail by a neck.
However, on September 27, the stewards received notification from the state’s equine drug testing laboratory, Truesdail Laboratories, that Blu Moon Ace had tested positive for cobalt, which is not on the Maryland Racing Commission’s list of approved medications.
Cobalt is a chemical element that is found in both humans and other animals, including horses. It is considered an essential trace element — that is, a dietary element needed in minute quantities for the health of the organism — because of its role in helping the body to synthesize vitamin B12.
As a result, cobalt helps the body to produce enzymes like thyroxine and “assists in the production of hemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.”
Patterson, the trainer, requested a split sample, which also came back positive at a level of 58 ng/mL — in excess of the permitted threshold of 25 ng/mL. As a result, the stewards disqualified Blu Moon Ace — which would elevate Whitmore to second and Awesome Banner to third — suspended Patterson for 15 days, fined him $500, and assessed him four multiple medication violation points.
On November 13, Patterson filed an appeal with the Maryland Racing Commission. The next Commission meeting does not take place until January 25, meaning that the purse moneys will be on hold until at least then.
The Maryland Racing Commission adopted its cobalt regulations in May 2015. That was about two months after the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium adopted the threshold.
The De Francis ran into assorted controversy this year. The winner, Chublicious, was allowed to enter although his trainer to that point, Jorge Navarro, was suspended. Scratches drove the field down to four runners. And now this.
Patterson and Cole claimed Blu Moon Ace for $30,000 from a race at Delaware Park in July. In his brief time with the barn, Blu Moon Ace won the $75,000 Cotillion Stakes at Timonium and the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint. Following the latter, he was the 7-5 post-time favorite in the Fabulous Strike at Penn National but was injured during the race and had to be euthanized.
Patterson has won with 38 of 90 starters this year, a strike rate of 42 percent.