THE BIZARRE saga of Parx trainer Ramon Preciado appears to be over. On Wednesday afternoon in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Racing Commission revoked Preciado's racing license, effective Thursday, as the result of multiple medication violations the trainer has accrued in the last 18 months.
All 17 of the positives were for Clenbuterol, a bronchodilator, a Class 3 drug in horse racing, with Class 1 being the most powerful and Class 5 the least powerful. It is illegal for a horse to run with Clenbuterol in its system.
Preciado's attorney, Alan Pincus, has worked diligently to keep the trainer in business, getting stays and filing multiple appeals to rulings. Pincus appears resigned to the fact that this is the end of the line.
"His owners understand they have to look elsewhere," he said.
According to Pincus, "they agreed to let him come on the track for another week to supervise the dispersal of the horses."
After Preciado got four Clenbuterol positives last year, Pincus said the trainer stopped using the drug. When he got six more positives this spring, Pincus argued that he had been "sabotaged."
It looked as if Preciado might escape punishment when one of his employees, Marian Vega, admitted giving the Clenbuterol to Preciado horses because she "hated" him. Vega, who had her license revoked in the spring, has since been charged with a crime by the state attorney general and awaits trial in 2017.
With Vega gone, Preciado then got five more positives. No longer able to point the finger at Vega, it was hard for the trainer or his lawyer to argue sabotage.
"It's just closing in on you," Pincus said. "It's just too much."
Preciado is currently the second-leading trainer at Parx, with 73 wins this year. He led the track's trainer standings in 2014, with 118 winners, and 2015, with 148 winners. Preciado has 1,194 winners in his career, and the horses he trained have earned $32.5 million. All those numbers are now frozen.
In a game in which inches often decide winners and losers, Preciado's horses were infamous among betters for improving inexplicably and almost magically overnight after he claimed them. The most obvious example was Trouble Kid, a horse Preciado claimed out of a maiden race for $15,000 on July 5, 2015.
On July 25, 20 days later, Trouble Kid ran like a wild horse, improving his speed figure by 31 points, the equivalent of two seconds or 10 lengths. On Sept. 19, Trouble Kid won the Gallant Bob Stakes on the Pennsylvania Derby Day card.
Ironically, Trouble Kid, after earning more than $500,000 since that $15,000 claim, ran in Tuesday's eighth race at Parx, finishing second. That will be Preciado's last race at Parx unless he gets his license back at some future time. At this time, that looks like some time in the very distant future, if at all.