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Trainer banned from 2017 Breeders’ Cup after positive test

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Trainer Ron Ellis has been banned from entering any horses in the Breeders’ Cup world championships this fall after being sanctioned by the event for a positive drug test involving his horse that finished second in last year’s BC Sprint.

Breeders’ Cup officials said Tuesday that the ban also applies to the horse Masochistic, who tested positive for a trace amount of an anabolic steroid after last year’s event at Santa Anita. The horse was disqualified from the Sprint and his purse earnings were redistributed.

This year’s two-day world championships will be Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar north of San Diego.

Several years ago the Breeders’ Cup adopted tougher rules on the use of medications that state no trainer may enter horses in the event if the person is found in violation of a jurisdiction’s rules regarding steroids within the past 12 months. California rules prohibit horses from testing positive for any amount of anabolic steroid.

The ban also doesn’t allow any of Ellis’ trainees to compete in this year’s Breeders’ Cup under another trainer’s name.

“Today’s actions affirm our determination to conduct the Breeders’ Cup under the highest standards of integrity in a fair competitive environment for all participants,” Breeders’ Cup President Craig Fravel said in a statement.

Ellis has admitted to giving Masochistic the anabolic steroid stanozolol during breaks for the horse between races last year. The drug can help a horse recover from exercise, improve appetite and build muscle mass.

California rules allow the administration of the drug, but a horse can’t race within 60 days of receiving it.

Ellis was notified three days prior to the BC Sprint that out-of-competition tests were still showing trace amounts of stanozolol in the horse’s blood. He chose to run in the race despite the warning, which was not shared with Breeders’ Cup officials or the wagering public. Masochistic is owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and Los Pollos Hermanos Racing.

Fravel said the event will look into new regulations “to ensure that no horse testing positive for any anabolic steroid while in training or competition will be permitted to race in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Ellis declined to comment in a text message Tuesday to The Associated Press, but has said he won’t contest the findings in the case. The 56-year-old Southern California-based trainer failed to top $1 million or more in earnings last year for the first time since 2003, according to Equibase. His other highest finishes in the Breeders’ Cup were second- and third-place finishes in 2012. His biggest career victory came in the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup.

James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, congratulated the Breeders’ Cup for its stance against anabolic steroids and urged regulators in the 38 U.S. racing jurisdictions to adopt the model rule for out-of-competition testing that mandates horses treated with any steroid spend at least six months on a veterinarian’s list, which would make them ineligible to race.

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming to skip Belmont Stakes

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NEW YORK — Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will skip the Belmont Stakes next month after finishing eighth in the Preakness.

Trainer Todd Pletcher says the 3-year-old colt will be pointed toward either the $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29 or the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 30, according to the Daily Racing Form.

Trainer Chad Brown says he will wait until after the Memorial Day weekend to announce where Preakness winner Cloud Computing will run next. However, it appears unlikely he will run in the Belmont.

The Belmont field is limited to 16 starters. Besides Classic Empire, who came in second at the Preakness Stakes, other horses expected to run are Conquest Mo Money, Japan-based Epicharis, Gormley, Irap, J Boys Echo, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, Multiple, Patch, Senior Investment, Tapwrit, True Timber and Twisted Tom. Other possibilities are Irish War Cry and Hollywood Handsome.

With no Triple Crown in play, Belmont lacks a singular buzz

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BALTIMORE — Cloud Computing stole the Preakness, and any hope of a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

The 13-1 shot did it on six weeks’ rest, having skipped the 20-horse roughhouse that is the Kentucky Derby even though he had enough points to get in that race. With another three weeks until the Belmont in New York, Cloud Computing could return to run on his home track.

“We haven’t ruled it out,” trainer Chad Brown said Sunday. “We’re just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision.”

Cloud Computing didn’t race as a 2-year-old because of injury, so he is among the freshest horses out there.

Brown prefers to give his horses a month or more between starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher also favors long layoffs, although he made an exception to run Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming back in two weeks. The colt responded with an eighth-place finish – the worst of his career – on Saturday.

“He looks good, bright, alert, sound, healthy, happy,” Pletcher said. “We’ll head to Belmont and regroup.”

If the Derby and Preakness winners skip the Belmont on June 10, the likely favorite would be Classic Empire, who was runner-up Saturday after finishing fourth in the Derby.

It would be the first time since 2010 that neither the Derby nor Preakness winner run in the Belmont. That year, Derby winner Super Saver, trained by Pletcher, and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky sat out the third leg.

Trainer Mark Casse said Classic Empire is being pointed toward the Belmont, barring any unforeseen developments.

“He was a better horse yesterday than he was two weeks ago for the Kentucky Derby,” he said.

Among other horses likely for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont – the longest of the Triple Crown races – are: Senior Investment (third in Preakness), Lookin At Lee (fourth in Preakness) and Japanese invader Epicharis.

Lookin At Lee finished second in the Derby, when Classic Empire was fourth.

Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee would face off for the sixth time in the Belmont, and they could be the only horses to run in all three Triple Crown races. Classic Empire has three victories against Lookin At Lee, including this year’s Arkansas Derby.

“You’re looking at horses that traveled at 2, ran at as high a level as we have, so you’re not surprised,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains Lookin At Lee and won last year’s Belmont with Creator.

“They’ve been able to maintain themselves physically. That puts them in a different position than horses who have not consistently run on that stage.”

Possible Belmont starters are Multiplier (sixth in Preakness) and Conquest Mo Money (seventh in Preakness). Gunnevera (fifth in Preakness) and Hence (ninth in Preakness) won’t run in the Belmont.

Epicharis, one of the top 3-year-olds in Japan, will make his North American debut in the $1.5 million Belmont. That would make him eligible for a new $1 million bonus offered by the New York Racing Association to any Japan-based winner of the race. The winner’s share of the purse is $800,000.

Epicharis would be the second Japanese horse to run in the Belmont. Last year, Lani finished third after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown.