09/12/2012 3:57PM

Veitch suspension upheld by Kentucky judge


A Kentucky circuit court judge has upheld the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s decision to suspend former state steward John Veitch for one year for his role in the Life At Ten incident at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup, according to a ruling released on Wednesday.

In issuing the ruling, Judge Thomas Wingate of Franklin Circuit Court denied Veitch’s appeal of the one-year suspension while lifting the stay that Veitch had been granted shortly after the suspension was handed down in February.

Wingate wrote that the commission did not apply arbitrary standards when approving the penalty, and he also said that the commission applied appropriate standards to the case. Wingate also wrote that the commission did not violate Veitch’s due-process rights.

“Because of his actions and omissions, the integrity of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky horse racing industry was brought under scrutiny,” Wingate wrote. “While faults of others might have contributed, that alone cannot compel this court to overturn the KHRC’s suspension.”

Veitch’s attorney, Tom Miller, said Veitch would appeal Wingate’s ruling.

Veitch has been seeking to be re-licensed in Kentucky as a steward since appealing the ruling, but that process has moved to the courts because of the racing commission’s contention that it cannot issue a license to Veitch until a racetrack submits a roster of racing officials naming Veitch to a steward’s position.

The commission approved the one-year suspension against Veitch three months after he had been fired by the state. A hearing officer had recommended the penalty on charges that Veitch violated his duties as chief steward surrounding Life At Ten’s warm-up and performance in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.

Life At Ten’s rider, John Velazquez, had earlier told television commentators that the filly “was not warming up like she normally does.” After leaving the gate, she was never persevered with and finished last. The hearing officer contended that Veitch had a duty to alert veterinarians about the comments and take steps to fully investigate Life At Ten’s performance, including ordering a post-race drug test.