Suspended Trainer Dutrow Granted 30-Day Stay of Action

A day before Thoroughbred trainer Rick Dutrow was scheduled to relinquish his license to train horses for the next 10 years in New York state, a state judge put a temporary hold on the punishment handed down last week by racing regulators, according to the trainer's lawyer.

Dutrow, slapped by the state's racing board for what it called a pattern of license abuses--including numerous equine drug infractions--over the years in New York and elsewhere, was given a 30-day stay to give his lawyer time to appeal the punishment to state Supreme Court.

The stay issued by Judge Richard Giardino in Schenectady on Oct. 17 will allow Dutrow, who won the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Big Brown, to continue his training operation in New York as the legal wrangling shifts from a state regulatory body to the state's court system.

"We are very satisfied with today's decision, and we look forward to appealing the New York State Racing and Wagering Board's decision in the courts," said Michael Koenig, Dutrow's lawyer.

Racing board officials declined to comment after the court hearing. It remains uncertain what might happen at the end of the 30-day stay, including if it will be extended to what could be months or even years of a court challenge.

Regulators last week stripped Dutrow of his license for 10 years--effective Oct. 18--and fined him $50,000. The fines pertain to discovery of the painkiller butorphanol in a urine sample from Fastus Cactus following the third race last Nov. 20 at Aqueduct, as well as officials finding hypodermic needles in a Dutrow barn.

The strict license suspension, which includes a ban from Dutrow appearing on the grounds of any track in the state, was meant to both punish the trainer for dozens of various infractions over the years and to send a message to the broader racing community, regulators said last week. 

The Racing and Wagering Board's penalty was less harsh than one recommended by the hearing officer who oversaw Dutrow's case: a lifetime revocation of his license.

Since the New York board's ruling, stewards at Santa Anita in California said they would honor New York's Dutrow ban. Dutrow previously was refused a license to race in Kentucky for 2010.

Koenig said Dutrow has four months to file an Article 78 appeal in court to the racing board's decision, but that he volunteered today to push the timetable up to 30 days. Koenig said he will then ask whatever court ends up with the Article 78 case to grant another stay while that case is fought over.

"We have no interest in delaying this case," Koenig said. "We want a quick and expeditious resolution so Rick can go on with his career."

As for the California track saying it would accept New York's ban of Dutrow, Koenig said, "California can do whatever it wants to do, but right now they should do nothing because there's a stay. Rick will be training on Thursday just as he was yesterday.''

About the Author

Tom Precious

Tom Precious also writes for The Blood-Horse, sister magazine to The Horse.

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