02/15/2012 6:35PM

Veitch suspension approved in Kentucky

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The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously to accept a hearing officer’s recommendation that its former chief state steward, John Veitch, be suspended for one year for his role in the Life At Ten incident at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup.

Veitch was fired in November of last year, two weeks before the hearing officer’s report was released. Veitch has appealed the dismissal, and if the appeal were to be successful and Veitch ordered to be re-instated, he would then be subject to the one-year suspension of his license, according to commission officials.

The approval of the suspension could also impact Veitch’s ability to act as a steward in racing jurisdictions other than Kentucky. As a rule, racing states honor the suspensions handed down in another state, and so racing commissions would be expected to consider the suspension if Veitch applied for a license as a judge.

The racing commission conducted the vote after emerging from a two-hour closed session following a regular Wednesday meeting.

Last March, the racing commission approved a measure stating that it had “probable cause” to charge Veitch with multiple violations of the state’s racing rules because of his role in the incident. Life At Ten, the second choice in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, finished last in the race, minutes after her jockey, John Velazquez, told commentators in the prerace warm-up that the filly “wasn’t warming up like she normally does.” The comments created an outcry among some observers that the filly should have been scratched or subjected to a special examination by veterinarians at the starting gate.

Velazquez was also targeted in the probable-cause order, but the jockey reached a settlement with the commission requiring a $10,000 fine. Veitch chose to fight the charges during a three-day hearing in late June last year.

The hearing officer had recommended the one-year suspension based on what he said was Veitch’s negligence of his duties as chief state steward. The report also said that Veitch had provided conflicting testimony during the investigation and hearing.