07/13/2011 11:27AM

Jamgotchian lawsuit challenges Kentucky claiming rule

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A California-based horse owner on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission asking a Kentucky court to strike down a rule that restricts claimed horses to running at the track at which the horse was claimed until the track’s meet is over.

The owner, Jerry Jamgotchian, filed the suit in Franklin Circuit Court, six weeks after officials at Churchill Downs and the state’s racing commission cited the claiming rule in denying Jamgotchian the ability to enter a horse he claimed at Churchill in a race at Penn National. In the suit, Jamgotchian alleges that the rule is “invalid under federal law as it violates the Commerce and Equal Protection Clauses” of the U.S. Constitution.

Jamgotchian filed a lawsuit against the California Horse Racing Board in 2009 challenging a similar rule. In an out-of-court settlement, the CHRB agreed to drop the rule.

Rules restricting the ability of owners to enter claimed horses at out-of-state tracks are common in many states. The regulations are usually referred to as “jail-time” rules.

“We look forward to winning this case and making sure that all horse owners in the U.S., including the Commonwealth of Kentucky, have the opportunity to claim a horse and then race it anywhere in the world they want, without harassment, restriction or the threat of suspension,” Jamgotchian said in a prepared statement.

On May 17, Jamgotchian claimed the horse Rochitta from a race at Churchill Downs. He later attempted to enter her in a June 4 race at Penn National, but was blocked by Kentucky racing officials.