Bassett Handed 10 Year Suspension

Trainer receives maximum penalties in New Mexico dermorphin case.
September 24, 2012

Generic Racing Photo

Champion Quarter Horse trainer and two-time All American Futurity winner John H. Bassett has been suspended a total of 10 years and fined $10,000 after two horses in his care tested positive for the prohibited Class 1 drug dermorphin. The drug, derived from secretions of South American tree frogs, is said to be 40 times more powerful than morphine.

Vince Mares, director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, confirmed Bassett’s suspension and fine, which was handed out Saturday after a hearing at Zia Park.

The penalties, five-year suspension and $5,000 fine for each violation, are the maximum permitted under New Mexico law at the time of the infractions. The New Mexico legislature has since passed stricter penalty guidelines for horseracing medication violations.

Bassett is the first of three trainers whose cases are to be heard by New Mexico stewards for positive dermorphin tests following the May 25 Ruidoso Futurity trials. Eight of the 25 trial winners tested positive for the drug. Hearings are scheduled next weekend for trainers J. Heath Reed and Carlos Sedillo.

The New Mexico Racing Commission has a contract with the Iowa State University lab for its drug testing program, however the Maddy Laboratory at the University of California-Davis detected the dermorphin in the Ruidoso tests. Split samples were confirmed at Texas A&M.

Fifteen dermorphin positives have been reportedly detected from horses racing in Oklahoma this spring, however no complaints have been filed. Louisiana has reported 11 dermorphin positives.

Industrial Labs in Colorado and Louisiana State University laboratory were involved in the Oklahoma and Louisiana cases that were believed to involve a synthetic form of the drug.

It was not immediately known if Bassett will appeal the suspension and fine.