Two years ago, following trials for the Rainbow Futurity and Rainbow Derby at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, samples from four Quarter Horses in the care of trainer John Stinebaugh tested positive for sildenafil, a prohibited substance that is the active ingredient in Viagra. Stinebaugh eventually was fined $40,000 and his training license was suspended for 16 years.
On July 6, Stinebaugh filed a lawsuit in El Paso County District Court, claiming that Weatherford Compounding Pharmacy (based in Texas, where the lawsuit was filed) and Attix Pharmaceuticals (a Canadian company) were negligent in manufacturing Tourniquet, an herbal bleeder medication. Joe Landers, owner of Weatherford Compounding Pharmacy, and David Liu and Syveon Liu, associated with Attix Pharmaceuticals, also were named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Testifying under oath at a stewards’ hearing on February 8, 2014—before the fine and suspension were levied against Stinebaugh—Joe Landers accepted full responsibility for the sildenafil contamination:
“They [Stinebaugh, veterinarian Boyd Clement, and the horses’ owners] absolutely did not have anything to do with this in any way, shape, form or fashion. They had no responsibility in it at all. It’s every bit our fault as a compounding pharmacy . . . It is the responsibility of my compounding pharmacy 100%.” Landers also testified that he trusted and relied upon the certificate of analysis verifying the content of the bulk ingredients provided by Attix Pharmaceuticals.
Stinebaugh was fined and suspended despite the fact that Landers accepted responsibility for the positive tests. Section 18.104.22.168(A) of the New Mexico Rules of Racing provide that a trainer “is responsible for the condition of horses entered in an official workout or race.”
Stinebaugh’s complaint, which presents only one side of the dispute, seeks $6 million in damages.