08/26/2010 2:25PM

Schickedanz denied temporary stay of Woodbine ban


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Owner Bruno Schickedanz, who has been banned from stabling or entering horses at Woodbine, had his request for temporary reinstatement denied at an Ontario Racing Commission hearing on Thursday. The ORC appeals panel, headed by chairman Rod Seiling, did not provide an immediate explanation for its decision but said that written notice would follow.

Schickedanz has been banned since shortly after one of his horses, 13-year-old Wake At Noon, a former Canadian Horse of the Year, shipped to Woodbine from Schickedanz’s farm, fell and broke a leg in a workout, and had to be euthanized June 29.

Schickedanz appealed Woodbine’s ban to the racing commission. On Aug. 17, A hearing, which lasted nine hours, was held for Schickedanz to give his side of the story. Schickedanz’s lawyer, Frank Roth, called witnesses who testified that Wake At Noon had been in training on the owner’s farm, was sound and fit when he came in to Woodbine, and that the injury had been the result of an accident rather than his age or condition. Schickedanz said he was “very upset, about the horse” but that he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.

Woodbine’s attorney, McCutcheon, said at the first hearing that Woodbine’s stance was in reaction to “public outcry” following the situation.

The next step in the process is for Schickedanz’s lawyer, Roth, Woodbine’s lawyer David McCutcheon, and Ontario Racing Commission lawyer Angela Holland to provide written submissions on the matter to the appeals panel.

Roth’s submission is due by Sept. 3, Holland’s by Sept. 10, and McCutcheon’s by Sept. 15. Schickedanz’s attorney, Roth, after viewing Woodbine and the ORC’s statements, will then have an opportunity to submit a second statement by Sept. 22.

At Thursday’s hearing, Roth argued in his opening remarks that Schickedanz should not be punished by a continuation of the ban pending the appeal’s outcome.

“The horse came on the grounds, properly documented, and not to race,” said Roth. “Nothing in the evidence we have heard so far shows that any rule of the Woodbine Entertainment Group was broken.

“[Schickedanz] deserves the same fair treatment as anyone else who has not had proof of guilt shown.”

Woodbine’s lawyer, McCutcheon, said, “At the end of the day, you’re faced with the issue of whether the good of racing would be served.”

McCutcheon went on to call witnesses Mark Casse, a Woodbine-based trainer who provided his personal view of the Wake at Noon incident and spoke as a board member of the local Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association; Vicki Pappas, who has had dealings with Schickedanz as part of her many capacities in the industry; and Abraham Katryan and Mark Fournier, who both had Wake At Noon during their years as trainers for Schickedanz.

Casse testified that he found the incident “appalling” and potentially damaging to Thoroughbred racing as a whole.

“In my opinion, the actions that were taken with Wake At Noon hurt our entire industry,” said Casse. “I hear about it everywhere I go, not just here but in the U.S.”

Casse added the HBPA officially sided with Woodbine on the Schickedanz ban.

“The board voted that they agreed with the actions of Woodbine,” said Casse.

Katryan and Fournier both testified that they were upset by Wake At Noon’s demise and that despite their previous association with Schickedanz they would not have agreed to breeze the horse for Schickedanz under the current circumstances.

Tom Marino, who was Wake At Noon’s trainer of record at the time of the workout, also has been banned indefinitely by Woodbine.