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Penn National permanently bans three trainers

Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa., has banned three trainers connected to the conviction of a trainer last week on 14 federal counts related to the illegal administration of race-day medications, according to a statement released by the track.

The statement said the convicted trainer, Murray Rojas, was banned effective July 6, several days after a jury returned a guilty verdict in a case in which Rojas was charged with misbranding drugs and conspiracy. While Rojas has not started a horse since being charged in 2015, the track also banned her husband, Eduardo, who has 103 starts this year, along with trainer Stephanie Beattie, who provided testimony against Rojas during the trial.

The statement said the bans are permanent.

While all three bans are limited to Penn National, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Thoroughbred Racing also revoked the licenses held by Murray Rojas shortly after the jury returned its verdict. Under that ruling, Rojas would be unable to start a horse at other tracks in North America under a system called reciprocity, in which racing commissions honor the rulings of other commissions.

Rojas, who was twice the leading trainer at Penn National, was accused of mislabeling medications and backdating veterinary records with the help of veterinarians. The case was part of a years-long probe by federal investigators that focused on the illegal use of medications on the Penn National backstretch.

Rojas's attorney, Robert Goldman, has said she will appeal the convictions, which were based on the starts of 13 horses at Penn National in 2013.

Beattie, also a former leading trainer at Penn National, testified during the trial that she engaged in some of the same practices as Rojas during her career, though she stopped allowing her horses to be treated on race day after she began cooperating with investigators in their probe of the Penn National backstretch.

Beattie had her best year in 2009, winning 222 races from 811 starts, with earnings of $3.4 million. But her business has tailed off sharply in recent years, with 14 wins from 111 starts in 2016 and 11 wins from 40 starts this year.

Eduardo Rojas has won 19 races this year from 105 starts. In 2014, he had two starts all year, but in 2015, when his wife stopped training, his starts jumped to 169, and in 2016, he had 199 starts, with 36 wins.