06/14/2007 12:00AM

Board denies Houghton's appeal


The Illinois Racing Board has denied an appeal by the jockey Terry Houghton asking that the board lift Arlington Park's ban against him at its ongoing meet.

The board, voting 9-0 in a meeting Tuesday held at Arlington, said it had no power to overrule Arlington's ban, which stems from an ongoing investigation by the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau into suspicious betting patterns on 10 different races last year. The Protective Bureau has said it has linked Houghton to at least three of those races, two at Great Lakes Downs and one at Tampa Bay. Houghton and nine other riders initially were banned by Tampa Bay Downs last winter.

Arlington is part of Churchill Downs Inc., and Churchill - citing the investigation - will not allow Houghton to ride at any of its racetracks. Houghton rode at Hawthorne in Chicago this spring and currently is riding at Indiana Downs.

A racing board hearing on Houghton's ban last month revealed that the investigation, which focused on irregular betting patterns, failed to link Houghton directly to the suspicious bets. That fact was not lost on racing board commissioners, and one of them, Joseph Casciato, said, "There was no nexus between Houghton and who cashed those tickets."

Casciato, however, agreed with the interpretation by the racing board's chairman, Joseph Sinopoli, of the board's responsibility. Sinopoli said ample evidence hadn't been presented to deny Houghton a license, but that a lower standard was required for a track to ban an individual from private property. Sinopoli explained that racetracks had only to prove a ban was not made arbitrarily, and that clearly was true in Houghton's case.

Because of the ban, Houghton filed a lawsuit on May 24 against Arlington, asking for damages stemming from loss of income and harm to his reputation.