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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.

Gronkowski preparing for U.S. debut in Belmont Stakes

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NEW YORK — Gronkowski has completed his first official workout since arriving in the United States ahead of his expected start in the Belmont Stakes.

The colt breezed four furlongs in 47.99 seconds at Belmont Park on Saturday for Chad Brown, who has taken over training duties from Europe-based Jeremy Noseda.

Gronkowski has been in the U.S. a couple of weeks. The colt, named for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, has four wins in six starts in Britain. The human Gronkowski has purchased an interest in the colt that missed the Kentucky Derby because of a slight infection.

Gronkowski is being pointed toward the June 9 Belmont, where Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify will try to become horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner.

Brown says the colt came to him in outstanding condition and shows the signs of being a very good racehorse.

Audible won’t race in Belmont Stakes

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NEW YORK — Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify won’t have to further contend with Audible in pursuit of the colt’s bid for the Triple Crown.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Friday that Audible will be pointed toward a summer campaign, with the $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 28 or the $1 million Haskel Invitational on July 29 being the top options for his next start.

Florida. Derby winner Audible finished third in the Kentucky Derby. Both Justify and Audible are co-owned by WinStar Farm and there had been much speculation whether the owners would pit them against each other when Justify tries to complete a Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont on June 9.

Elliott Walden, WinStar president and CEO, was at Belmont Park on Friday to see Audible and discussed the situation with Pletcher.

The trainer says Audible isn’t doing as well as he was leading into the May 5 Derby and he doesn’t think the colt is where he needs to be to win the 1 +-mile Belmont.

However, Noble Indy is a possibility to run in the Belmont. He finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby and is also co-owned by WinStar. Pletcher said Noble Indy put himself into the Belmont mix after completing a half-mile workout Friday.