Four-year-old dispute over alleged positives changed how state handles samples.
Trainer Bill Mott has reached a court settlement with the New York State Gaming Commission after a nearly four-year legal battle concerning a disputed medication overage from September 2014.
Mott agreed to take a seven-day suspension, effective July 5-11, and pay a $1,000 fine to end the case, which began when Saratoga Snacks, a horse he trained, was found to have two alleged medication overages in tests conducted after an allowance race at Belmont Park on Sept. 20, 2014. The NYSGC originally imposed a 15-day sanction against Mott for overages of Banamine and Lasix that were for such excessive amounts that they seemed to defy logic.
Mott steadfastly claimed the testing, conducted by New York’s contract lab at Morrisville State College, was incorrect, and he was backed by testimony from the two veterinarians who administered medication to the horse the week of the race.
Further, Mott raised as a central issue the failure of the lab to provide him a sample of the horse’s blood (plasma) with which to do a “split sample” test at an independent laboratory. Mott sued state regulators and stewards, claiming he was denied his constitutional right to challenge the alleged overages. In subsequent testimony, evidence was introduced showing a continuing pattern of New York regulators denying samples to horsemen for split-sample testing for two decades. As a result of the Mott case, a new agreement was reached at the beginning of this year guaranteeing that a second dose of blood would be pulled from horses and kept in a separate refrigerator, making split samples available to horsemen who want to challenge called overages.
“A settlement doesn’t make either side happy,” said Drew Mollica, Mott’s attorney. “But Bill changed the way they do business by holding their feet to the fire. Split sampling is now in New York because of Bill Mott. Off all his accomplishments in his Hall of Fame career, this is his shining hour because he didn’t wage this battle for himself, but for other horsemen.
“We exposed the failure of the prior New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association administration, which let this due process travesty go on, knowing its membership was being prosecuted without the ability to challenge evidence.
“This case could have gone on another three or four years, and we believe in our hearts we would have won.”
Said Mott, “I settled this last week just to get the thing behind me. The testing was flawed, the overages were excessive, and we didn’t get the right to defend ourselves. That’s what the fight was about, them saying you had a right to a split sample when you really didn’t.
“I’ll take a few days away from training and do some work around the house. It’s good to get this behind me, and I’m hoping the horsemen’s group takes the initiative to work on these issues as a group instead of people having to do it individually.”