Figueroa is a licensed race horse trainer who was suspended when his horse
tested positive for cocaine. He
sought review of the decision by the defendant Commission imposing a sanction on
him. His defense is that he had no
knowledge of the administration of the banned substance.
In this opinion, the Court of Appeals upholds the sanction under the
trainer responsibility rule. Proof
of personal participation or knowledge is not required.
plaintiff, a licensed horse trainer, appeals from a judgment of the Superior
Court affirming a decision of the Massachusetts State Racing Commission
(Commission) to uphold disciplinary sanctions imposed upon him, by the Suffolk
Downs Board of Stewards, pursuant to 205 Code Mass. Regs. ss 4.32(8) (1998) and
4.32(2) (1998), after one of the horses he trained tested positive for cocaine
following a race.
plaintiff contends that the Commission's decision was not based upon substantial
evidence, because there was no proof that he administered the cocaine or had any
knowledge of how the drugging was accomplished. Although the plaintiff is
correct that there was no evidence to suggest that he was involved in or aware
of the drugging of the horse, he nevertheless remained subject to disciplinary
action. Under the Commission's regulations, direct involvement or knowledge need
not be shown to make out a violation of 205 Code Mass. Regs. s 4.32(8), which,
particularly when read in conjunction with s 4.36(9) (1998), imposes strict
liability upon a trainer for the condition of his horse. "The rule may do
injustice to a trainer innocent of wrongdoing; but it serves to protect the
public." Fioravanti v. State Racing Commn., 6 Mass.App.Ct. 299, 305 (1978).
trainer also may be disciplined under 205 Code Mass. Regs. s 4.32(2), for
failing to properly protect a horse in his charge and to guard it against the
administration of banned substances. Here, there was evidence that the plaintiff
lived in and commuted from New Hampshire, that he could not always be present to
check on the horses in his care, and that, at night, he relied upon only two
employees to sleep in the barn and watch over approximately thirty horses.
Although these facts are not overwhelming evidence of dereliction of duty, the
evidence was sufficient, when coupled with the undisputed, positive results of
the drug test, see Martinez v. State Racing Commission, 10 Mass.App.Ct. 909
(1980), to support the Commission's determination that the measures taken by the
plaintiff to protect his horse from the administration of drugs were inadequate.
to Top of This Page
Return to Horse Racing Page