Updated on 10/16/2011 10:28AM

Dutrow banned by New York - 10-year minimum

Barbara D. Livingston
Richard Dutrow Jr. had his training license revoked because of a history of violations “inconsistent with the best interests of racing.”

The three-member New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to revoke the training license of Richard Dutrow and bar him from reapplying for a license for 10 years, agreeing with a hearing officer's recommendations that Dutrow's continued participation in New York racing is "inconsistent with the best interests of racing."

On Wednesday afternoon, Dutrow's attorney, Michael Koenig, had already filed a motion seeking to stay the ruling. Dutrow is scheduled to appear in court in Schenectady on 9:30 Monday morning to argue for the stay, and the judge is expected to issue a decision on the motion that day, Koenig said. Koenig said he will argue that the judge should grant the stay while Dutrow and his attorney embark on what will likely be a long appeals process.

"The decision is vindictive, heavy-handed, and most importantly, contrary to the facts, contrary to the evidence, and contrary to any notion of fundamental fairness or due process," said Koenig via cell phone. "The racing and wagering board structure allows them to play prosecutor, judge, and jury. No fair decision can result from such a stacked process."

Judges frequently grant stays in cases in which racing commissions suspend or revoke licenses, on the grounds that racing participants should not be denied their livelihood by a state licensing body without first exhausting their appeals through civil courts.

The ruling will become effective on Oct. 18, giving Dutrow's owners six days to mull their options and await any judge's ruling. Also as part of the ruling, Dutrow will be barred from any racing facilities in New York for 10 years.

The revocation is the harshest judgment yet for Dutrow, 52, whose long history in racing has been marked by wins in some of the country's most prominent races, including the 2008 Kentucky Derby with Big Brown.  He has also accumulated 64 separate rule violations, running from minor administrative matters to serious violations of racing's medication rules. Dutrow has said that he has never deliberately administered a banned drug to a horse, but he has frequently blamed lapses in his judgment on his well-publicized battles with drugs and alcohol over the years.

The ruling by the board has national significance, not just for Dutrow, who is running out of states to run in, but for the racing industry at large. Over the past two years, Dutrow has been attacked by national legislators and mainstream media publications as a poster child for the perception that racing treats its serial violators with kid gloves, and many racing officials have said privately that revocation of Dutrow's license would help racing make a case that it is serious about addressing concerns about the integrity of the game.

In approving the revocation, the board considered a report prepared by Clem Parente, the hearing officer who presided over a formal three-day hearing in early June to consider evidence in the board's pursuit of a license revocation. In his report, Parente had recommended that the board permanently revoke the license, but the commissioners amended that recommendation to a 10-year ban.

MORE: Read the full report >>

One board member, Daniel Hogan, cited Dutrow's long history of violations just before voting.

"It seems Mr. Dutrow loved horses, but he loved winning even more, and he wasn't above breaking our rules to win," Hogan said.

"New York's racing industry has no place or patience for Mr. Dutrow," said John Sabini, a former New York legislator who is the chairman of the racing and wagering board. "His repeated violations and disregard of the rules of racing has eroded confidence in the betting public and caused an embarrassment throughout the industry."

Earlier this year, the licensing committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission denied a license application from Dutrow, citing his violations and inaccuracies on his filing. Dutrow has appealed that ruling, but since the committee's decision, he has been unable to start horses in Kentucky. After the committee denied the application, Dutrow declined to pursue a license renewal in New Jersey, fearing that regulators there would cite the Kentucky decision in denying approval.

Regulators began closely scrutinizing Dutrow's license applications following the discovery of butorphanol, a powerful painkiller, in the postrace sample of a horse trained by him last Nov. 20 in New York. Before the finding, investigators had found three syringes filled with xylazine, a painkiller and muscle relaxer, during a search of his barn at Aqueduct on Nov. 3. Trainers are prohibited from possessing hypodermic needles on the backstretch, and both drugs are prohibited.