11/30/2012 3:31PM

Kentucky judge rules in favor of claiming rule


A Kentucky circuit court on Thursday dismissed a horse owner’s challenge of a state rule restricting where a horse can run after it is claimed, in a ruling that said the so-called “jail-time” restriction was a “proper exercise” of the state racing commission’s powers.

In a ruling signed Nov. 29, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd said that rule did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and that any “incidental burden” on horse owners created by the rule is “slight.” The rule prohibits a claimed horse from being entered at any track other than the one where it was claimed for the duration of the track’s meet.

“The local benefits of the regulation outweigh any burden on interstate commerce,” Judge Shepherd wrote.

The challenge was mounted by Jerry Jamgotchian, a horse owner based in California who unsuccessfully tried to enter a horse at Penn National in Pennsylvania after claiming the horse at Churchill Downs in Louisville in 2011. Jamgotchian had been successful in challenging a similar rule in California several years earlier when the California Horse Racing Board decided not to enforce the rule instead of arguing for it in court.

Jamgotchian said on Friday he did not know if he would appeal until he had “thoroughly reviewed the ruling.” In an e-mailed statement, Jamgotchian further said that “this unfortunate decision against horse owner rights will hurt everyone and promises to further reduce field size, available broodmares, [and] stallion books, and close many more breeding farms in Kentucky and throughout the United States.”