KHRC Chief Steward Dismissed In Midst of Investigation

John Veitch, chief steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) who was the subject of an investigation into the Life At Ten situation during the 2010 Breeders' Cup World Championships, was dismissed from his position Nov. 28.

Tom Miller, Veitch's attorney, confirmed that his client received a letter from the Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees the KHRC, stating that Veitch's "services were no longer needed." Miller said the letter also stated that Veitch was being dismissed without cause, meaning that he would not have a right to appeal the decision to the state Personnel Board.

Miller said the dismissal was effective immediately.

Miller said his client is exploring all of his legal options. He said he found the dismissal, in the form of a letter from Holly McCoy-Johnson (appointing authority for the Public Protection Cabinet) to be "interesting in its timing."

The action comes in the midst of a hearing officer completing his report stemming from the investigation and hearings this summer on the Life At Ten situation. Robert Layton, who is the chief hearing officer for the Office of Administrative Hearings within the Energy and Environment Cabinet, is drafting the report based on three days of hearings conducted this summer. Earlier this month, Layton requested and received a 30-day extension in which to complete his report.

Life At Ten, owned by Candy DeBartolo and trained by Todd Pletcher, finished last in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I), held last November at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., as the second choice at odds of 7-2. With jockey John Velazquez aboard, Life At Ten had no run when the field left the gate, and she was not persevered with throughout the race.

The KHRC launched an investigation that included a review of comments Velazquez made to retired jockey Jerry Bailey, who was working as an announcer on the ESPN coverage of the Breeders' Cup, prior to the race. The jockey said Life At Ten was not warming up as she normally does, but did not relay those concerns to the stewards or any KHRC veterinarians.

The KHRC found probable cause that Velazquez and Veitch had violated rules of racing in connection with the incident. Though he did not admit to violating any rules of racing, Velazquez paid a $10,000 fine, half of which went to charity.

Veitch has said he did nothing wrong in his handling of the case and that the charges against him are due in part to disagreements between him and KHRC executive director Lisa Underwood over handling of disciplinary matters.

Underwood last month announced she was resigning, effective Nov. 16, to become partner in a Lexington law firm.

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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