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Suspended by HIWU, Diodoro Enters Horse at Lone Star

He is eligible to race in Texas, which is not under HISA jurisdiction.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro

Trainer Robertino Diodoro

Anne M. Eberhardt

Trainer Robertino Diodoro, provisionally suspended by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit after the alleged discovery of the banned substance levothyroxine in his barn at Oaklawn Park, entered a horse to race at Lone Star Park April 18. He is eligible to race in Texas, which is not under Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority jurisdiction.

Amy Cook, executive director of the Texas Racing Commission, wrote in an email that "We do not honor (HIWU) rulings based on the Texas Racing Act statutory conflict currently in litigation." She pointed to a Texas reciprocity rule that stewards and racing judges shall honor the rulings issued by other pari-mutuel racing commissions.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, for which HIWU is the enforcement agency for medication violations, is not a racing commission but a private self-regulatory organization created by Congress. Its constitutionality is being contested in court.

Diodoro also owns the entered horse, Master of Disguise, who is scheduled to compete on the opening night of the Lone Star Park spring meet in a $33,000 maiden special weight contest after making three prior starts this year at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. The Mastery gelding breezed April 11 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Levothyroxine, a thyroid supplement and synthetic version of a hormone called thyroxine, is banned by HIWU after years of overuse in the racing industry. Diodoro has been summarily suspended until the case has been reviewed by HIWU's Internal Adjunction Panel and then by a federal administrative law judge. A resolution to the case has not yet been posted on the HIWU website.

Upon discovering the levothyroxine, Diodoro was told to leave the Oaklawn premises and that all of his horses stabled at the track would need to be removed from the property by the end of March, Oaklawn Park president Louis Cella previously told BloodHorse. His already-entered starters were still allowed to race there March 29, and two were victorious, including Masqueparade in the Temperence Hill Stakes.

The trainer then had two other horses race at Turf Paradise in Arizona April 2-3 who had previously been entered and were allowed to compete under HISA rules. Those tracks fall under HISA oversight.

The Texas Racing Commission believes only it is authorized to regulate Thoroughbred horse racing in the state. Texas tracks have been unable to domestically simulcast their Thoroughbred meets out of state since July 2022, when the commission rejected enforcement of HISA's safety rules and regulations. 

States such as Texas, as well as others like West Virginia and Louisiana, are not overseen by HISA. West Virginia and Louisiana are exempt due to successful legal challenges by entities there that resulted in injunction relief.

Diodoro is not the first HIWU-suspended trainer to resurface in states not operating under HISA jurisdiction. In another example, trainer Jonathan Wong, who previously raced mostly in California and Kentucky, began racing in Louisiana after being suspended for two years by HIWU after a horse of his tested positive for metformin, a commonly used drug used by humans to treat type 2 diabetes.

Matt Vance, executive vice president of racing for Lone Star Park, did not return a phone message seeking comment, nor did John Holleman, an attorney to whom Diodoro directed media inquiries after his provisional suspension was announced.

Beyond regulators' actions, tracks can often impact who races at their facilities by denying stalls or issuing private property bans.