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Original Issue


Louisville's Freedom Hall, "home of the best in college basketball" and just a few furlongs from Churchill Downs, is the current locale of horse racing's biggest controversy: the running of the 94th Kentucky Derby last May 4. The first horse across the finish line that day was Peter Fuller's Dancer's Image, who was subsequently denied first-place money of $122,600 by the stewards after the chemist's report that his postrace urine test showed illegal traces of the pain-killing medication phenylbutazone, commonly known as Butazolidin. In a drab, lemon-colored room at Freedom Hall, from which photographers are barred, Fuller is appealing to the five-man Kentucky State Racing Commission to reverse the stewards' ruling. After Fuller's lawyers offered a crash course in advanced chemistry that had some commissioners yawning, the hearing concentrated on various tests conducted by Chemist Kenneth Smith and his associates. Attorneys Stuart Lampe, Arthur Grafton and Ned Bonnie are trying to prove that Smith is guilty of what they call "technological obsolescence," and that he has made so many errors that his tests and his testimony are of no probative value. Smith has declared he would stake his life and reputation on the now famous sample 3956 U being positive. If the commission agrees that Smith's testing was faulty, that will be the end of the case and no one will ever know whether Dancer's Image really was drugged and, if so, what the drug was and who did the drugging. If the commission backs up its stewards, Fuller's lawyers undoubtedly will appeal that ruling to the courts, and any attempt to solve the mystery will be delayed for more months. There is no doubt that the competence of racing's tests for evidence of drugging must constantly be checked and maintained. But this is obviously an issue subsidiary to the overriding need of maintaining the integrity of racing's premier event. The responsible Kentucky officials must clear up the Derby drugging mystery, not merely ascertain whether Kenneth Smith is a reliable technician. At the rate everyone is going, the field for the 95th Derby will move into the starting gate on the afternoon of May 3, 1969 before we know what happened behind the scenes on May 4, 1968.



Refusing to face his questioner, Chemist Kenneth Smith responds to the probing of Attorney Arthur Grafton (opposite page, center) as Peter Fuller (left) and Ned Bonnie listen. The five-man commission and its counsel (above) take a chemistry lesson from the Fuller team.