11/11/2010 3:23PM

Kentucky board continuing Life At Ten inquiry

Alysse Jacobs
Life At Ten finished last in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is continuing to review the circumstances surrounding the poor performance of the filly Life At Ten in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs last Friday, the chief steward of the commission said on Thursday.

The review is seeking to ascertain why the horse ran so poorly and whether commission personnel and the filly’s trainer and jockey acted appropriately in the lead-up to the race. Life At Ten, the second choice in the Ladies’ Classic, merely galloped around the track during the race, finishing last, following comments by Velazquez and Pletcher to television commentators that the filly was acting lethargic in the paddock and post parade. Since the race, critics have contended that the filly should have been scratched before the race.

John Veitch, the chief steward for Kentucky, said that stewards have interviewed Pletcher, Velazquez, track veterinarians, Churchill’s starter, and outriders for the race. In addition, they have sent a prerace blood sample from Life At Ten to the state’s drug-testing laboratory in Florida, and are awaiting the results.

“We’re continuing to conduct some interviews just so that we know we are approaching it from every angle,” Veitch said.

Veitch said that neither Pletcher nor Velazquez notified veterinarians, the stewards, or the starter that Life At Ten was having problems before the race. Furthermore, the stewards did not tune into the television broadcast until they were notified by a television producer about the comments shortly before the horse was led into the gate.

According to Veitch, Pletcher said on Sunday that the horse had spiked a fever the day after the race, and that blood tests had revealed that she had an elevated white-blood cell count, an indication of infection. Pletcher told stewards during the interview that the horse did not have a fever before the race.

Life At Ten was inspected earlier on Friday by veterinarians for any soundness issues, but she did not exhibit any indications of unsoundness, Veitch said. In addition, veterinarians at the starting gate for the race said that she wasn’t displaying any soundness issues in the post parade or when being led into the gate, Veitch said.

Veitch said that stewards did not send Life At Ten to the test barn after the race because the barn was already full of horses. For the Breeders’ Cup races, the top four finishers are all required to provide post-race samples, and that the test barn already had a backlog of “three to four races,” Veitch said.

“It becomes a safety issue,” Veitch said. “There were already far too many horses in the barn.”

Life At Ten did, however, provide a pre-race blood sample for the purposes of testing for total carbon dioxide, and stewards have sent that sample to the drug-testing laboratory, Veitch said.