Veitch Suspension Connected to Life At Ten Incident Upheld

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) voted unanimously Feb. 15 to suspend fired chief state steward John Veitch for one year in connection with his actions surrounding the Life At Ten case.

Hearing officer Robert Layton determined Veitch had violated five racing rules by not having Life At Ten inspected by a veterinarian or scratched from the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic after jockey John Velazquez told an ESPN audience the filly was not warming up properly prior to the race. Among other charges, Layton ruled Veitch should have ordered Life At Ten tested after the Ladies' Classic, in which she was not persevered with and ran last as the 7-2 second choice. The Life At Ten incident ultimately led to the implementation of new veterinary practices for future Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Following a closed executive session, the commission upheld a recommendation from Layton that Veitch be suspended for 365 days. The suspension begins Feb. 16.

Although Veitch was fired by the commission on Nov. 28, 2011, the suspension would be imposed if he were to successfully appeal his firing. Also, other states would generally recognize the Kentucky action through reciprocity agreements. Layton concluded Veitch violated five rules of racing in connection with how he handled the Life At Ten incident before, during, and after the Ladies' Classic at Churchill Downs.

In his appeal, Veitch claims he could not be fired without cause and that his firing was also age discrimination. He has also questioned the procedures followed in ordering his dismissal. He contends only the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, not Public Protection Cabinet Secretary Robert Vance, had the authority to dismiss him.

In the supplemental appeal, Veitch is asking Layton to find that his dismissal was ineffective and that he be reinstated to his old job and be awarded damages for Vance's actions. Also following the executive session, the commission upheld the 180-day suspension of trainer David Pate for a positive test for the presence of desmethyltramadol in November 2010. According to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, the drug is a Class 2, narcotic analgesic that has no legitimate therapeutic application in the racehorse.

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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