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Trainer adamant Eight Belles was never on steroids

STANTON, Del. — The trainer of Eight Belles is certain the filly was never on steroids and has ordered tests to prove it.

Larry Jones said Tuesday that he wants to dispel any suggestion the Kentucky Derby runnerup was on performance-enhancing drugs. Eight Belles was euthanized after breaking both front ankles Saturday, a quarter-mile after the finish at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

"I guarantee there were no steroids ever on the horse," Jones said at Delaware Park, site of the filly's first win.

Jones was adamant that the necropsy will show no use of performance-enhancing drugs and hoped it will uncover any "soundness issues."

Meanwhile, Eight Belles' owner, Rick Porter, said the preliminary necropsy result showed the death came as a result of the fracture of the filly's two front cannon bones.

Derby horses aren't tested for steroids. That might change because of pressure from inside and outside the industry for racing to develop stricter drug regulations.

Tampa Bay Downs: Four horses — two each on the main (dirt) track and turf course — were euthanized because of injuries at the Oldsmar track during the 94-day thoroughbred meet that ended Sunday.

"When you consider we ran 1,005 races and averaged nine (actually 9.4) horses a race, that number is an exceedingly low one," spokeswoman Margo Flynn said. "It's not something you ever want to see happen, but we were very fortunate this year. We have a very safe track; the numbers bear that out."

The number of deaths at the track corresponds to the national average, according to figures from Dr. Mary Scollay, a regulatory veterinarian at South Florida tracks.

Derby Lane: LaRosa Enterprises' Red Dirt Road extended his lead in the win standings with a 10-length victory Monday in a Grade A 550-yard race. Trained by Kim McAuliffe, Red Dirt Road raised his win total to 34 in 65 starts at the St. Petersburg greyhound track. He leads McAllister Kennels' Flying Macbeth by three wins.

Times correspondent Don Jensen contributed to this report.

Trainer adamant Eight Belles was never on steroids 05/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2008 10:40am]

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