Santa Anita Park stewards disqualified Flagstaff from a runner-up finish in the Sept. 27 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G2) after test results showed clodronate, a bisphosphonate, in his system, according to a ruling dated June 19 and published June 22 on the California Horse Racing Board website.
The disqualification results in a $40,000 loss of purse and alters the official order of finish. C Z Rocket remains the race’s winner, and Collusion Illusion becomes the runner-up with Desert Law third and Giant Expectations fourth. Betting payoffs are unchanged, standard practice for disqualifications for medication infractions.
No hearing date involving the horse’s trainer, John Sadler, has yet been set, said CHRB spokesman Mike Marten.
Clodronate is a Class 1 drug but is being reclassified as a Class 3. Class 3 drugs are not deemed to influence performance as much as those in Class 1 and 2.
Last month when a complaint was filed in the case, Sadler’s attorney, Darrell Vienna, said Flagstaff was treated with Osphos, the trade name for clodronate, in 2019, as was permitted at the time for older horses. Clodronate can be used to repair bone in horses experiencing navicular disease, for which it is approved in horses aged 4 and older by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Racing jurisdictions and sales companies began prohibiting bisphosphonates in 2019 in response to fears the drugs could be used to hide radiographic evidence of sesamoiditis in young horses in sales.
Bisphosphonates can linger and later release in an animal’s system years after treatment, according to animal studies Vienna cited. Another trainer in California, Jeff Metz, is contesting a bisphosphonate complaint related to one of his horses on a similar basis, also with Vienna as counsel. In that case, Vienna argues that a CHRB investigator’s report shows a veterinarian administering the drug to the horse years ago before the horse came under the care of Metz.
Sadler is also at risk of discipline from a settlement agreement he made with the CHRB last June, in which the regulator stayed 45 days of a 60-day suspension for medication violations from the spring of 2019. That agreement was under the condition he does not have any Class 1, 2, or 3 drug positives during a year’s probation. If he does have such a violation, the 45 stayed days would be imposed following a noticed hearing.
A 7-year-old with more than $1 million in earnings for owners Lane’s End Racing and Hronis Racing, Flagstaff is one of the leading sprinters in the country. A seven-time winner from 20 starts, he captured the Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Ford (G1) at Churchill Downs this spring and was most recently second on the True North Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park June 4.