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VERA MEYER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/10/83)

decided: March 10, 1983.

VERA MEYER, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE HORSE RACING COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Horse Racing Commission in the case of In Re: J. Willard Thompson, No. 80-091.

COUNSEL

G. Eugene Beechwood, Jr., for petitioner.

Samuel F. Meisenhelder, General Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 496]

Vera Meyer, the owner of a two-year old racehorse that placed second (horse two) in the sixth race at the Penn National Race Track on October 12, 1980, appeals an order of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission, which fined the trainer of the horse that placed first in that race (horse one) after the commission's chemist found .8 microgram per milliliter of phenylbutazone, a prohibited substance, in horse one's blood and urine sample.*fn1

Mrs. Meyer contends that the commission abused its discretion in not disqualifying horse one from the

[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 497]

    first place purse, and in not explaining in its decision why it chose a more lenient penalty.*fn2

To understand this dispute, we must review Rule 15.02 of the Commission's Rules of Racing; before its amendment on July 26, 1980, that rule provided:

Should the chemical analysis of any sample taken from a horse entered in a race indicate the presence of any narcotic, stimulant, depressant, local anesthetic or analgesic, the trainer of the horse, together with the assistant trainer, stable foreman, groom or any other person shown to have had care and attendance of the horse shall be subject to disciplinary action and such horse shall be declared unplaced for every purpose except pari-mutuel wagering which shall in no way be affected. (Emphasis added.)

As amended in July, 1980, the rule ceased to contain the words requiring trainer discipline and purse forfeiture when a horse is found to have ingested illegal drugs. However, in relevant part, it provided:

It shall be the intent of these rules to protect the integrity of horse racing, to guard the health of the horse, and to safeguard the interests of the public and the racing participants through the prohibition or control of all drugs and medications or substances foreign to the natural horse. In this context: . ...


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