10/23/2012 11:51AM

New York Court of Appeals rejects Dutrow's appeal of suspension

Barbara D. Livingston
The New York Court of Appeals has rejected trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.'s appeal of a 10-year suspension.

The New York Court of Appeals has rejected Richard Dutrow Jr.’s appeal of a 10-year suspension handed down by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, but the trainer will continue to be allowed to enter horses until his options to appeal the case are exhausted.

The Court of Appeals said in a brief note Tuesday that it had rejected the appeal “upon the ground that no substantial constitutional question is directly involved.” The Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York, but Dutrow still has one last option to pursue the appeal in the same court by requesting that the court hear the case on a variety of legal grounds aside from an examination of constitutional principles in the case.

The ruling is a substantial blow to Dutrow’s efforts to overturn the 10-year suspension, which was handed down a year ago. Following the suspension, Dutrow was granted a stay that has allowed him to continue to train, and the stay will remain in effect until all of his legal options to appeal in New York’s courts run out.

“The court-ordered stay that allows him to continue to train is still in effect,” a spokesman for the racing and wagering board said Wednesday.

If the Court of Appeals declines to hear the appeal, it is likely that the stay will be lifted and Dutrow will have to pursue any remaining legal options while on the sidelines.

“We are, of course, disappointed, but neither deterred nor defeated,” Dutrow’s attorney, Michael Koenig, said Wednesday morning. “We will now seek the more traditional route of asking the Court of Appeals for permission to appeal this case. I continue to believe that Rick’s due-process rights were violated and that the factors we will now ask the Court to consider weigh in our favor.”

Koenig had argued in the latest appeal that the court should consider the constitutional standards for a conflict of interest. Earlier, Koenig had argued that the suspension should be thrown out because John Sabini, chairman of the racing and wagering board, had a conflict of interest in the case because he also was on the board of the Association of Racing Commissioners International at the time the suspension was handed down. The RCI had asked New York to examine Dutrow’s license earlier that year.

In July, the New York Appellate Division dismissed Dutrow’s appeal in a ruling that said that Sabini “was not bound to follow any suggestions made by the association or its president, and the record is devoid of evidence that he took any action based upon the communications.”

Dutrow is a leading trainer on the New York circuit, but his long history of violations has made him a lightning rod for critics of the sport’s regulatory system. He won the Kentucky Derby with Big Brown in 2008.