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Did Cupid Misfire? Trainer Out After Viagra Found in Racehorses

An accomplished New Mexico racehorse trainer has been suspended for 16 years and fined $40,000 after four of his steeds tested positive for the active ingredient in Viagra.

The punishment against quarter horse trainer John Stinebaugh was imposed this week by the board of stewards at Sunland Park and announced by the New Mexico Racing Commission, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Stinebaugh can appeal the decision through the racetrack or contest the sanctions in state district court, and seek injunctions until their cases are adjudicated.

The stewards said three horses under Stinebaugh's care -- My Dancing Angel, Bikini Bombshell and Dynasty Edition -- tested positive for Sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in the human erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, after racing in the trials for the Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on July 5, 2013. A fourth horse, PJ Chick in Black, tested positive the following day after racing in a separate trial for the $1 million race.

In addition to the other penalties, the stewards ordered Stinebaugh to forfeit $8,000 in purses awarded to the horses.

Sildenafil citrate is illegal in horse racing because it increases cardiac output and can boost a race horse's on-track performance.

Stinebaugh told American Quarter Horse News that the positive tests stemmed from an anti-bleeding compound drug administered in a paste to his horses by track veterinarians, the Journal said. The paste, manufactured by a Texas compounding pharmacy, mistakenly contained the banned drug, he said.

Regardless of how a drug gets into a horse, trainers are held responsible under state regulations.

Stinebaugh has ranked among the top 10 trainers by earnings nationally, according to the American Quarter Horse Association.