06/21/2016 11:18AM

Umarov hearing scheduled for Wednesday


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Otabek Umarov, the owner-trainer suspended recently by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for 10 years, will appear before a Franklin County Circuit Court judge in Frankfort, Ky., on Wednesday morning for a request of a stay of the commission’s sanction, according to court records and his attorney.

The hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m., is the first in what is expected to be a long legal battle between Umarov and state regulators. The 10-year suspension was the longest given out by the commission in decades, and Umarov, who is from Uzbekistan, is expected to pursue a range of legal avenues to void the penalty or reduce its length.

Last week, members of the commission unanimously rejected Umarov’s request for a stay. Umarov will argue before the judge on Wednesday that he has been deprived of his due-process rights and should be granted the stay so that he can continue to earn a living training and owning horses until a formal appeal of the ruling is conducted, according to court filings.

Kentucky regulators contend that Umarov prevented commission personnel from obtaining an out-of-competition blood sample from a horse he owns and trains, Looks to Spare, in late April at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Furthermore, the ruling issued by the stewards alleged that Umarov secretly ordered a stable employee to remove the horse from the grounds as he was engaged in discussions with the stewards to resolve the situation.

A Kentucky regulation states that a licensee can be banned for a minimum of five years for refusing to allow personnel to obtain a blood sample. The rule was part of a suite of regulations passed in 2010 that allows the state to conduct an out-of-competition drug-testing program. Umarov is the first licensee to be punished under the out-of-competition rules.

While commissions routinely reject requests for stays from licensees who are sanctioned for major racing infractions, courts generally take a more lenient view when weighing due-process cases.