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Trainer suspended after horse tests positive for drug

SANTA FE, N.M. — An El Paso trainer whose horse tested positive for a regulated drug in its system following a May race at SunRay Park near Farmington has been suspended for a year, fined $5,000 and ordered to forfeit more than $22,000 in winnings by the New Mexico Racing Commission.

Trainer Jose L. Muela has had three horses under his care test positive for regulated drugs in the past year, according to Racing Commission records.

The latest sanctions are the result of a positive test for clenbuterol – a drug used to treat equine respiratory disease but can mimic muscle-building anabolic steroids in high doses. Following a May 9 race at SunRay, a Muela-trained filly named Regal First Moon had at least 264 picograms of clenbuterol per milliliter in her urine – nearly double the 140 pg/ml allowed by Racing Commission rules.

Another test on the same urine sample – done by the commission’s contracted lab – put the horse’s level of clenbuterol at 677 pg/ml.

When a horse is tested, the sample is split in two. One is tested at a lab contracted by the Racing Commission – in this case at the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory at the University of California-Davis – and the other is available to the trainer for independent testing.

The Maddy lab reported the higher level. Truesdail Laboratories of Tustin, Calif., reported the lower clenbuterol level.

The purse forfeiture applies not only to the winnings from the May 9 qualifying race at SunRay, but to a subsequent stakes race Regal First Moon ran there on May 25, according to Racing Commission records.

At the time of the infraction, the filly was owned by Julieta N. Torres and was racing out of J&M Racing and Farm in Monahans, Texas.

The sanctions were issued Nov. 17 by Racing Commission stewards.

Commission executive director Vince Mares said Monday neither Torres nor Muela had filed an appeal of the rulings with the commission by the Nov. 27 deadline.

In its ongoing efforts to crack down on horse doping, the Racing Commission, which is responsible for regulating New Mexico’s pari-mutuel horse racing industry at the state’s five racetrack/casinos, has begun posting its rulings on its website,