03/12/2010 1:00AM

Ky. commission suspends Raley for a year


Trainer Jeffrey Scott Raley has been suspended a year by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after one of his grooms was found poised to give one of his horses what officials believed to be a syringe of vodka about 45 minutes before a scheduled race Feb. 28 at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Kentucky chief steward John Veitch said that Raley was suspended, effective March 18, because of the trainer responsibility rule. The groom, whose name has not been released, was scheduled to appear at a stewards' hearing Saturday. The subject horse, Spontaneous Diva, was scratched.

Veitch, a retired Hall of Fame trainer, said racetrack legend is that vodka has been used for years to calm down nervous horses. Veitch said commission investigators confiscated a bottle of vodka from Raley's truck and added the syringe and its contents are in the process of being tested at a laboratory at the University of Florida to confirm that the substance involved was only vodka. Veitch said the commission was acting on a tip about Raley giving his horses vodka and that the stable had been under observation.

Raley, 42, said Friday morning that he "absolutely" intends to appeal the suspension and is being represented by attorney Laura Ward. He said he believed the suspension to be unduly harsh, that he "was set up," and that the commission's ruling "is incredible."

Raley, whose stable is based at the High Pointe training center in LaGrange, Ky., has raced in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois in recent years. He has won 34 of 238 starts since his training career began in 2004.