Respected Trainer Chuck Sylvester Gets Cobalt Positive

Hall of Fame trainer Chuck Sylvester has been hit with a Cobalt positive in Pennsylvania after a horse he trained tested for an excess level of the banned substance. Sylvester has been handed a 15-day suspension and a $500 by the Pennsylvania Harness Commission.

An even bigger problem for Sylvester could be his status at the Jeff Gural-owned racetracks. Gural said yesterday that if a split sample taken from the horse also tests positive for the drug then Sylvester will no longer be allowed to compete at The Meadowlands, Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs. He also said the two horses Sylvester trains for him will be moved to a new barn.

“This is a total shock to me and very disappointing,” Gural said.

The horse Murderers Row, a 3-year-old filly, tested positive for Cobalt after a June 16 race at Pocono in which she finished third. A week later she was second in a June 24 race at Chester and has not raced since.

Sylvester said yesterday he did nothing wrong.

“It was shocking to me,” he said. “I have no idea how this happened. All I know is that I’m the trainer of record and that I’m going to get 15 days. That’s all I can tell you. I am embarrassed that something like this happened and I have no idea why it happened. It’s a horrible thing to have it happen to you. I know some people do get positives and they haven’t done anything wrong. That’s absolutely what happened to me.”

Ask anyone in the industry who is the least likely trainer to get a Cobalt positive and Sylvester would no doubt have topped many lists. He has only one other blemish on his record, a 2008 positive for the Class 4 drug Dexamethasone, for which he was fined $1,000.

Sylvester is a 1997 inductee into the Hall of Fame and has trained the winners of four Hambletonians.