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Published: Wednesday, 5/7/2008

Eight Belle's trainer orders drug tests

ASSOCIATED PRESS

STANTON, Del. - The trainer of Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles ordered drug testing yesterday as part of the autopsy, intent on dispelling any suggestion the fallen filly may have been on steroids.

Larry Jones said the tests for performance-enhancing drugs will come back negative on Eight Belles, who was euthanized after breaking both front ankles Saturday. The filly finished behind Big Brown.

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

Jones said he was responding to unspecified criticism that his horse must have been on steroids because it was unusually large.

"We're taking a lot of abuse out there. ... We're being accused of steroid abuse because she was so large," he said.

"I can tell you that [owner Rick] Porter goes to the sale to look for good horses and that's one of the thing you look for - a horse that's big enough, strong enough, and fast enough to compete in big races."

Jones also took a swipe at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has been critical of jockey Gabriel Saez. PETA has said Saez should have known that the horse was in trouble and that he went to the whip too often.

"I think that it is really and truly the most ridiculous thing I've heard of," he said.

Jones said PETA is capitalizing on a sad situation. "When this started I feel like maybe their heart was in the right place. I think maybe they were generally concerned."

PETA has called for the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority to stop the use of the whip and ban the racing of horses under 3.



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