Con Karakatsanis’ career is in ruins after he and his father Tony were found guilty this week on all five counts of conspiring to drug their horse Howmuchdoyouloveme at the opening meeting of the 2012 Melbourne Cup carnival.
The horse ran as the $3.10 favourite in the Group II Yellowglen Stakes before finishing eighth in a field of 12.
Karakatsanis and his father were charged after a stewards’ operation was prompted by a tip-off. During the investigation, stewards found a bag containing tubing equipment in a stall occupied by the stakes-winning sprinter.
The trainer reportedly said before the Board’s decision, that if found guilty he would be out of business because of the costs and damage to his reputation; factors that are likely to be compounded by stiff penalties imposed by Victoria’s Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.
Before the hearing, Karakatsanis said that the charge against him had cost him the best part of $100,000 to defend himself, and that owners had taken horses away from his stable because of the allegations.
Karakatsanis and his father face a long spell of disqualification, a fine, or both.
RAD Board chairman Judge Russell Lewis will hear submissions on the penalties at a date to be fixed next week.
Judge Lewis said that the father and son were “unreliable witnesses” and that the board believed the evidence of Racing Victoria’s Compliance Action Team stewards Dion Villella and Kane Ashby.
“The Board has come to the conclusion that the version of events by Tony and Con Karakatsanis should not be accepted,” said Lewis, who added that the board believed that Karakatsanis senior was aware of the contents of a feed bag – tubing equipment – when he took it to the horse’s box the morning of the Yellowglen Stakes at Flemington.
Tony Karakatsanis’ defence was that he had mistaken it for a bag of hay.
Judge Lewis said the Board also believed that Con Karakatsanis was locking the front gate to help facilitate the conspiracy, rather than “fidgeting with the lock”, as the trainer had suggested.
“[We were] far from impressed with the explanation that he was playing with the padlock because it was stiff,” said the judge.
The Board concluded that the pair had the equipment, the time and the intention, to administer a performance-enhancing drug before their horse raced.
Lewis said that during the hearing much depended on the credibility of the witnesses, and that Villella and Ashby’s evidence was credible, whereas Karakatsanis’ was unacceptable.
The RAD Board will hear submissions on the final penalties to be awarded against Karakatsanis this week.