03/15/2012 3:01PM

John Ward to address possible conflict before panel


John Ward, the Kentucky Derby-winning trainer who was selected last month as the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, will appear before the state’s executive-branch ethics committee next week to discuss whether the job will pose a conflict of interest with the training operation he co-owns with his wife, according to a spokesman for the racing commission.

Dick Brown, the spokesman, said that Ward will appear voluntarily before the panel, which is scheduled to convene on Monday. The issues that will be discussed include whether Ward’s wife will be able to train in Kentucky, even though she does not plan to start any horses in the state while her husband is the executive director.

Ward did not respond to a message left on his cell phone.

Ward said previously that he will surrender his training license in Kentucky when the appointment becomes effective on April 1. He told the Courier-Journal on Wednesday that his wife will continue to train for the stable, and that horses within the stable will run in his wife’s name in other jurisdictions during his tenure, though not in Kentucky.

“The question is whether my wife can race in another state,” he told the newspaper, and “will she be allowed to train in [Kentucky] although not competitively race in this state.”

The couple’s training operation is based at a farm in Paris, Ky. They have raced primarily in Kentucky, New York, and Florida over the past decade.

Ward, 66, trained the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos. He has been a member of the racing commission since 2003, a position he will give up when he takes the executive director job. While racing commissioners are allowed to hold racing licenses – and many do – staffers of the commission are expected to have limited financial ties to the industry.