07/12/2013 12:49PM

Veitch's firing upheld by Kentucky Personnel Board


The Kentucky Personnel Board voted unanimously Friday in favor of the firing of former chief state steward John Veitch, according to the board’s executive director, Mark Sipek.

The 6-0 vote to uphold the firing was contrary to the recommendations of a hearing officer’s report, which stated that Public Protection Secretary Robert Vance did not have the power to fire Veitch when he was dismissed in November 2011. Veitch was an employee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is a part of the Public Protection Cabinet, and the hearing officer had said the firing should have been handled by racing commission personnel.

Sipek said the board ruled that Vance had the authority to fire Veitch and also that Veitch was a non-merit employee, which meant he could be fired without specific cause. The board’s final order in the matter will be issued early next week, Sipek said. It can be appealed through the state’s civil courts.

Tom Miller, Veitch’s attorney, was said to be on vacation Friday and unavailable for comment.

Veitch was fired five months after the racing commission held a lengthy hearing over his role in the Life At Ten incident in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs. Life At Ten finished last in the race after never being prevailed upon by her jockey, who had told television reporters just minutes before the race that she “was not warming up like she normally does.”

The hearing officer ruled that Veitch was negligent in his duties by not ordering a veterinary examination of the filly prior to the race or conducting a timely investigation into the incident.