Updated on 01/11/2013 11:24AM

Richard Dutrow appeal of 10-year suspension denied for second time by New York's top court

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.'s second appeal of a 10-year suspension was denied by the New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

The New York Court of Appeals has ruled for the second time in three months that it will not hear an appeal by trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. of a 10-year suspension handed down by New York regulators in late 2011, dealing what could be a fatal blow to Dutrow’s career.

With the decision, a stay that has allowed Dutrow to continue to train while he appeals the suspension is likely to be lifted in the next several days, once Dutrow is served with the court’s opinion. That will send Dutrow, 54, to the sidelines for the first time since the suspension was issued, in October 2011, nearly 14 months ago.

With the Tuesday decision, the Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, has now declined twice to hear Dutrow’s appeal, first on the grounds that the suspension did not raise any constitutional questions and now on the basis that the court had no reason to question lower-court rulings upholding the state racing commission’s penalties.

Dutrow’s attorney, Michael Koenig, said Tuesday that “we are considering all options” to avoid serving the suspension.

“Candidly, I’m sick to my stomach,” Koenig said. “In almost 20 years of practice, I have never been as disappointed or disheartened by a decision.”

A call to Dutrow’s cell phone Tuesday was not picked up, and a recording on the phone said his voice-mail inbox was full.

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board issued a statement Tuesday saying that “the court’s action confirms that cheaters who repeatedly violate the rules have no place in New York racing.”

Despite the legal issues hanging over his head – and a checkered past that has resulted in dozens of penalties over the past decade – Dutrow was the co-leading trainer in New York this year with 110 wins. It was Dutrow’s fourth New York training title.

According to officials, Dutrow’s next legal option would be to appeal the suspension in federal court. If Dutrow decides to appeal, he could seek to obtain an additional stay while the appeal is heard, but several officials have said that federal courts are not as likely to grant injunctions as state courts, especially after legal options in state court have been exhausted.

Samantha Siegel, the owner of Jay Em Ess Stable which has horses with Dutrow, said Tuesday morning that she had read reports of the Court of Appeals ruling, but she had yet to hear from Dutrow or his attorney about whether he would go forward with a federal appeal. If his stay is lifted, Siegel will be required to move her horses to a new trainer.

“As long as he is allowed to train, he will be my trainer,” said Siegel, who has been one of Dutrow’s staunchest supporters. “I haven’t really thought about who I might move them to. I haven’t wanted to.”

The state racing and wagering board handed down the 10-year suspension on the basis that Dutrow’s “conduct at racetracks in New York State and elsewhere has been improper, obnoxious, unbecoming, and detrimental to the best interests of racing.” Following the ruling, the licensing committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to renew Dutrow’s license in the state.

Dutrow has three horses entered on Wednesday’s card at Aqueduct: Exclusive Bull in the fourth, Sacred Success in the sixth, and Charlie’s Quest in the eighth. He has one entered on Thursday’s card, Mr. Lit in the fourth, and two in on Friday’s card, Late Starter in the second, and El Oh El in the third. He also has D' Pepjo entered in the ninth race at Gulfstream on Thursday.

An official familiar with the legal process said that once the board receives notice that Dutrow has been served with the court order, then the board will draft a suspension notice and issue that notice to tracks with a start date for the suspension. The order will likely take effect immediately upon receipt by the tracks, so once the order is issued, Dutrow will be unable to act as a trainer.