03/14/2012 5:23PM

Kentucky commission executive director pick Ward to appear before ethics 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 the Louisville Courier Journal.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, the Courier-Journal said. Ward will appear voluntarily in front of the panel “so there is a total transparency to this scenario,” Ward told the newspaper.

Ward did not immediately 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  April 1. He told the Courier-Journal 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.