Once upon a time, the Commonwealth of Kentucky was the most abusive racing jurisdiction in the land when it came to lax permissive medication rules.

Given recent events thats no longer true.

Dr. Rodney Stewart was suspended a total of five years when it was discovered he was in possession of banned substances found in his vehicle and in a search of trainer Patrick Biancones three barns at Keeneland Race Course.

Four of the five years was for possession of cobra venom; one for possession of Carbidopa and Levodopa. When used in combination, these two agents increase the level of dopamine in the brain.

In tablet form, the combination of agents have extended-release properties. They are commonly used for treatment of Parkinsons Disease in humans, but there is no evidence of it ever having been used in racehorses.

This is a ground-breaking, possibly milestone case. Not only for the duration of Stewarts suspension but for the message it sends. Encouraging, too, was that the ruling was issued in Kentucky where new rules were instituted two years ago, patterned after guidelines set by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

One can only speculate that the duration of this suspension was perhaps cumulative. Stewart previously had been suspended for failing to cooperate in a prior Kentucky Horse Racing Authority investigation. Further, he has been cited for improper labeling of medications and failing to report violations of medication rules.

According to his attorney, the medications found in the vehicle and a refrigerator in one of Biancones barns were for use elsewhere, not on racehorses. It was cobra venom that was found in Biancones barn, along with dog and cat vaccines.

It is alleged Stewart used the refrigerator for storage only and that he had no intention of using, nor did he use, the banned substances.

The Biancone case is separate. Yesterday he ended a 15-day suspension for a violation when a horse he saddled at Churchill Downs on May 3rd tested positive for caffeine and theophylline, used primarily as an asthma medication in humans for their broncodilatory properties.

Theophylline had been banned in Islamabad earlier this month and the FDA ordered it off the market in this country in 1998.

There is a long way to go in the process, obviously. But circumstantial evidence keeps piling up. In addition to the recent suspension at Churchill Downs, Biancone was recently fined for an infraction in California last January.

Biancone moved to this country after he was found guilty of violating drug rules in Hong Kong in 1999. A native of France, he previously had established a reputation as a world class horseman in Europe before moving his operation to the Far East.

A hearing on the discovery of cobra venom, a powerful pain-killer, has been scheduled by the KHRA, although no date was officially announced. An entire industry, and their fans, will be watching.

All this underscores how useful, and important, a deterrent it might be if the names of a trainers attending veterinarians were listed on the official track program. At the very least, horseplayers would be able to factor that information into their handicapping.

In a data-based game, transparency is never a bad thing, especially if theres nothing to hide.

If its too much trouble to list the vets names--since some trainers use more than one--it could be noted after the fact who the veterinarian of record was for that days winning horses. That way track program and past performance publications could list the winning percentages of veterinarians.

Hey, like trainers and jockeys, some might just be better than others. Or playing within the rules.