Trainer Jamie Ness, issued a six-month suspension and $5,000 fine Aug. 18 by Pennsylvania stewards for a post-race positive drug test from one of his runners, will soon file an appeal, according to his attorney, Andrew Mollica.
The sanctions follow the Ness-trained Crabs N Beer testing positive for bufotenine after winning the sixth race at Parx Racing Feb. 23 for owner Charles Blanford. The race was a starter optional claimer in which Crabs N Beer was the 3-5 favorite.
The ruling issued Thursday, forwarded Aug. 20 by Mollica but not yet posted on the Pennsylvania Racing Commission website, further disqualified Crabs N Beer, resulting in forfeiture of $15,000 in earnings.
Bufotenine is a hallucinogenic serotonin analog found in frog or toad skins, mushrooms, plants, and mammals.
Mollica said Ness will appeal, noting he is in the process of filing paperwork to seek a stay of the suspension, which is scheduled to run Sept. 5-March 3. He called it "unfathomable we're in this position," saying bufotenine is a known contaminant.
According to Mollica, the Association of Racing Commissioners International "absolutely carves out an exception for bufotenine, and as such, they find it in urine, it's not a positive. However, they didn't find it in urine—they only took blood."
Ness, a leading trainer in the Mid-Atlantic, has started 3,702 winners through Aug. 19. He has been sanctioned numerous times for medication violations over a career with 14,906 starters since 1999. In 2017, Ness served a 100-day suspension for positives for clenbuterol in Florida from 2012-14.