Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Clears Levamisole Sanctions Against Joe Sharp – Horse Racing News


Nearly a year after trainer Joe Sharp appealed a 30-day suspension for a series of positive tests for levamisole, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission issued a one-sentence ruling on Jan. 14, lifting all sanctions against him.

The ruling read: “As a result of the August 2015 declassification by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, all penalties previously imposed on Owner/Trainer Joe Sharp in Stewards’ Rulings #21-0006, #21-0008, #21- 0010, #21-0011 and #21-0012 are hereby cancelled. By order of the stewards.”

The decision was first reported by Bloodhorse.com.

Sharp was cited for five positive tests for levamisole in horses racing at Churchill Downs in November 2019. The January 21, 2021 rulings stated that levamisole is a Class B drug, even though the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted in 2015 to declassify levamisole.

The Kentucky sanctions came after Sharp was fined $1,000 each but not suspended for eight Louisiana positives for levamisole. Sharp said the positives came from using an FDA-approved worming product designed for cattle, sheep and goats that he used on his horses.

Clark Brewster, Sharp’s attorney, told Natalie Voss of Paulick Report at the time the appeal was filed, “I thought it was extremely unfair and damaging to Joe. It’s just the intransigence of the stewards who don’t have the courage to admit the truth and say, ‘Okay, we’re sorry. Let’s make it right.”

Voss wrote at the time of the appeal: An important difference for Brewster is the history of changes in the classification of levamisole. At one point, the drug was considered a Class A drug (the most serious category) and was later made Class B. Then, in 2015, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission commissioners unanimously agreed to remove levamisole from the drug classification scheme entirely after they untangled the association between levamisole and another drug called aminorex. Aminorex is a stimulant that has the potential for performance enhancement and was the main concern, they concluded. It was initially unclear whether one was a sign that the other had been administered, but Brewster said it is now generally accepted that levamisole can be converted to aminorex, but not the other way around.

(Read more about the challenges of regulating levamisole and aminorex in this 2018 feature.

“This really goes beyond regulation,” Brewster told Voss when filing the appeal. “[The positives were] all over the news. Joe couldn’t get stalls at Fair Grounds for a while. People drew their horses, including one that ran in the Kentucky Derby (Art Collector). He was completely pilloried by the press, all because the stewards just didn’t read the list.”

The five horses that tested positive for levamisole were disqualified and the scholarship money was redistributed, according to the 2020 rulings. These are: Zero Gravity (Nov 14, 2019); Chitto (November 19, 2019); Street blinding (November 23, 2019); Blackberry wine (November 30, 2019); Art collector (Nov 30, 2019). Undoing sanctions against Sharp will not affect those disqualifications.

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