THE racing future of Karloo Mick is up in the air just three days out from the 2013 Inter Dominion series as the horse's trainer Barry Lew fights to clear his name after copping a 12-month disqualification stemming from a positive swab after the horse won at Menangle in October.
At a hearing on Monday Lew pleaded not guilty to the charge of presenting the horse to the races when a urine sample upon analysis detected the prohibited substance norketamine.
In no way was it suggested that Lew had administered the parent drug ketamine, commonly used to anesthetise horses prior to surgery. Late yesterday Lew appealed the decision and will now await a further judgement on whether a stay of proceedings will be granted. If it is granted the horse is still eligible to compete in Saturday's heat at Menangle.
The decision, which came just months after a separate inquiry into a positive swab by Karloo Kix to the drug boldenone, has shattered both the trainer and his wife Ronda, who is also a part-owner of the horse.
Ronda Lew knows there will be sceptics out there due to the two controversies in such a short period of time but was keen to put forward their side of the story.
"We know we have done absolutely nothing wrong in either case yet our lives have been turned into a living hell," Ronda Lew said. "People will believe what they want to believe but we want to put the facts forward. With the boldenone it has been proven that the swab taken at Newcastle that night had been contaminated but Barry served four months for it.
"Luke McCarthy's identical boldenone case from the same night has been completely dropped after scientific evidence.
"This time they said Barry didn't give the horse anything, which we knew, but it was his responsibility to ensure nothing was in the horse's system.
"The reading was one nanogram of norketamine in the horse's system, which we've been told isn't enough to do anything."
“A scientific expert told us it was the equivalent of say one second in 38 years. It doesn’t make him go fast and it doesn’t slow him up.
“Barry could have gone to the hearing and pleaded guilty and copped a 25 per cent discount but he pleaded not guilty because he did nothing wrong and wants to clear his name.”
The Lews believe the norketamine got into Karloo Mick’s system when he was stabled at the property of trainer Elizabeth Heath, but in no way blame their good friend who they stay with on every Sydney excursion.
“Mick went into a box where a horse that had been gelded had previously been and another gelding came home to the Heath’s property the day Karloo Mick arrived. It’s no more sinister than that,” Lew said.
“That horse had been given ketamine to knock it out for the procedure.
“Mick likes to pick so he has licked or eaten something off the ground where that other horse has passed the substance and that is where he has picked up the stuff. It’s such a tiny amount that it couldn’t possibly have been administered.
“As far as we’re concerned it was proven that the substance had passed through another horse before it got into Mick’s system so we’re at a loss as to what more we could have done.
“Unless they start drug testing when horses get to the track and have the results back before the race how can you ever be sure they haven’t done something like this?”
Karloo Mick has drawn barrier 10 in his Inter Dominion heat at Menangle on Saturday night. Being the 12-year-old’s fifth time in the sport’s feature event, he has been heavily promoted as a drawcard for the series but his place is now in serious jeopardy.
“We can’t send Mick to any other trainer. He left home for three days at the vet’s once and fretted that badly we had to go and bring him home,” Ronda Lew said.
“On the way home on Monday Barry said “scratch him, we’re finished with everything” but the more you think about it the more you wonder if we should give the old boy one last chance at an Inter Dominion.
“But if there is no stay of proceedings allowed he won’t be trained by another trainer and at his age, that will be it.
“With the boldenone case the stay of proceedings was refused but whether they grant one on this occasion remains to be seen. Hopefully with the Inter Dominon pending it will be granted.”