Anyone familiar with owner Jess Jackson knows he has has long championed himself as an advocate for greater integrity in the sport of Thoroughbred racing. However, with his trainer Steve Asmussen now facing another possible suspension for a medication violation in Texas, Jackson has once again had to answer why he continues to stand by a trainer that has had a history of drug infractions.
Asmussen, trainer of Jackson’s star filly Rachel Alexandra, was recently handed a six-month suspension by stewards at Lone Star Park for a lidocaine positive in 2008 although the Eclipse Award winner was granted a stay of the suspension shortly after his attorney filed an appeal.
During a national teleconference Tuesday, Jackson – who formerly practiced law himself – took issue with the fact the stewards would not quantify how much lidocaine was found in the horse’s system and said his trainer was getting “a bum rap” for what could have been a case of contamination.
“I know Steve at the time was almost livid they would charge him with that and the suspension is far greater than someone else would suffer for the same thing,” Jackson said. “There is a strict liability for trainers for incidents that might have been caused by others if some one is handling food or equipment or even hay that might have the residue of a drug. To me, you have to hold someone responsible but why not penalize the owners of a horse…why pick on the trainers alone? The most important thing is the vets. Why do they continue to be licensed if they are indeed providing the drugs.
“I don’t think Steve is the problem. I think vets are the problem and the industry attitude is the problem.”
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs that are banned on race day.