Chemist detects steroid treatment given before the horse's trip to the Japan Cup The Hong Kong Jockey Club yesterday suffered the second shock scratching this year on the eve of an international race with a 'potential positive' when American-trained Sarafan withdrew from Sunday's $14 million Hong Kong Mile. High-profile owner Gary Tanaka and trainer Neil Drysdale were informed early yesterday that a cortico-steroid treatment given to Sarafan prior to his trip to the Japan Cup had been detected by the chief chemist in a routine sample. The drug has a standard withholding period of 56 days prior to racing - Sunday's event would have been 54 days after treatment. Dr Terence Wan See-ming informed the Jockey Club that, while there were 'only traces' of the drug, there was a possibility the highly rated Sarafan would return a positive if he were to compete and Drysdale and Tanaka preferred to withdraw the horse rather than take the risk. 'They are only traces, and we believe the chance of it being eliminated from the horse by Sunday is relatively strong, possibly 70-30,' said executive director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'However, with this kind of medication, the levels can rise and fall over a period of time - the progress is not a straight line - and it is possible that Sarafan would show a higher level if tested again. I have spoken to the trainer and to Mr Tanaka and they understand and have preferred to scratch from the race. To leave him in the race would not be ideal for anyone and it would not be fair to deprive someone else of the chance to run.' The David Oughton-trained Bowman's Crossing (jockey Michael Kinane) has now gained a start in the race, giving Oughton a full hand to chase more international glory after Precision's shock Cup win 12 months ago. Oughton also has Precision in the Cup, Roosevelt in the Vase and Cape Of Good Hope in the Sprint. 'The circumstances are unfortunate but this is the race we had aimed him at since he came back this season, so I'm delighted that Bowman's Crossing has gained a run now,' Oughton said. The Sarafan case certainly will have implications for the 'drug-free' racing of Japan, where he was allowed to compete in the nation's feature race carrying a cortico-steroid, but a positive in a visiting horse has again slipped through the net in Hong Kong, too. In April this year, South African stayer Eventuail was permitted to arrive for the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup, despite having informed the club of a cortico-steroid injection to a knee while he was in Dubai just weeks before. Eventuail was withdrawn the day before the race when it became obvious that there was no chance of him racing drug-free at Sha Tin. On that occasion, chief vet Dr Keith Watkins admitted his own error in having missed the steroid on the treatment list submitted by the horse's connections prior to arrival. 'This situation is different, because Sarafan has come here through Japan, not directly to us from the United States,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges yesterday.