06/08/2010 12:00AM

Kentucky gives Kuntzweiler okay for license


LEXINGTON, Ky. - A committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted on Tuesday to reissue a jockey's license to Greta Kuntzweiler after the jockey tearfully expressed regret for drug-related offenses that landed her a 10-year suspended prison sentence nearly three years ago.

The Licensing Review Committee voted unanimously to issue the license provided that Kuntzweiler agrees to random drug testing and other stipulations that could include the repeal of the license without chance of appeal if she is charged with any other criminal offenses.

Kuntzweiler, 34, applied for the license last week. Before the committee's ruling, Kuntzweiler testified to the committee that she felt deep remorse for the offenses that had occurred after she had stopped riding, and that she had never used drugs while performing.

The license will not be issued until Kuntzweiler's counsel and the racing commission come to terms on a "consent agreement" that will spell out the conditions Kuntzweiler must satisfy while riding. Lisa Underwood, the executive director of the commission and a member of the licensing review committee, said that similar consent agreements with other riders who have a history with drugs have taken approximately a week to hammer out.

Kuntzweiler has been working as an exercise rider at a training center near Louisville throughout her probation. In November 2006 she was arrested on multiple counts of methamphetamine manufacturing and possession. After pleading guilty to the counts, she was given five years probation in lieu of the 10-year prison sentence.

Kuntzweiler was the leading rider at Turfway Park in 2002, three years after she was first awarded a jockey's license. She quit riding in 2005.

Jockey advertising rules amended

Earlier, the full racing commission approved several amendments to its rules governing jockey advertising, including a stipulation that any agreements between riders, owners, and sponsors be filed with the racing commission. The amendments were passed as emergency regulations, meaning that they will go into effect immediately.

The Jockeys' Guild, a national organization representing riders, had objected to the provision requiring disclosure of the agreements to the racing commission, arguing that the requirement could have a chilling effect on the willingness of sponsors to sign advertising agreements if the terms of the contracts were available to competitors.

"I've heard the arguments that someone would get a competitive advantage, and that the public is not entitled to that information, and that sponsors don't want their deals publicized," said Edward Bonnie, a member of the committee who worked on the amendments. "I and members of the committee reject those arguments."

Terry Meyocks, the president of the guild, criticized the amendment after the vote and said that the new regulations would discourage sponsors from reaching agreements with riders.

"The way it's set up now is that it is set up to fail," Meyocks said.

Although the regulations will go into effect immediately, the rules will still need to pass legislative review. Mindy Coleman, the legal counsel to the Guild, said the organization will explore whether to file objections to the new amendment as it goes through the legislature.

Advertising deals for riders are extremely rare in the racing industry, though some sponsors have sought contracts with jockeys for high-profile events like the Kentucky Derby or the Breeders' Cup, which this year will be run at Churchill Downs in Louisville. A flap over advertising contracts that occurred during this year's running of the Derby spurred the commission to rewrite the rules.

The amendment technically requires the terms of the agreements to be disclosed to the commission, but it was unclear on Tuesday whether the language also required disclosure to members of the public.

"The first time that might come up is the Breeders' Cup this year, so we're going to have to figure that out before then," said Robert Beck, the chairman of the commission, after the meeting.