Vet Sues NYRA To Resume His Practice

Veterinarian Dr. Michael Galvin didn't go away quietly after being banned for the remainder of the year by the New York Racing Association. Galvin promptly filed a $20-million lawsuit against the NYRA and went to federal court in Brooklyn on June 18 seeking an injunction and restraining order that would allow him to resume his practice at NYRA's three tracks. He has worked at the tracks for 10 years and treats approximately 1,000 horses for 40 trainers. Galvin said that none of the tens of thousands of horses he has treated in his career has ever tested positive for an illegal substance.

Judge Marilyn Dolan Go presided over the hearing that included testimony by NYRA chairman Kenny Noe Jr. and NYRA president Terry Meyocks. The deadline for post-hearing submissions is July 6. Judge Go is expected to make a decision within a few days after receiving the reports from attorneys for both sides.

At question is whether Galvin received due process before he was banned by NYRA. According to a published report, Meyocks acknowledged during his testimony in Judge Go's court that NYRA said it would not follow through with plans to build a day-care center at Belmont Park if the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association continued to be represented by Karen Murphy. She also is the attorney for Galvin.

"My opinion is that we should not have any dealings with Karen Murphy," Meyocks was quoted as saying in the New York Post. "We feel that you are not serving the best interest of horse racing. As long as Miss Murphy is involved, we will not go forward with plans for a day-care center."

Meyocks later denied pressuring horsemen to fire Murphy, but she was dismissed by them on the evening that the hearing began. By a 6-5 vote, the horsemen voted to drop Murphy, a breeder who has been their counsel for 18 months.

In addition, the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. did not take any action on a proposal that Murphy replace Lou Salerno on the NYTB's board of directors. Salerno, a former president, resigned from the board.

Galvin apparently was being investigated for several months before he was accused of "tubing" Hip Wolf on March 27. The filly, trained by Mitchell Friedman, was scheduled to race that day. Tubing a horse, which is pumping a solution directly to the stomach through a nostril, is only illegal on racing days. In addition to tubing violations, Galvin was being investigated for making late injections of Lasix.

When New York State Racing and Wagering Board investigator George Cary reported to the three stewards who work the New York tracks that he had observed the tubing, Hip Wolf was scratched. The stewards suspended Galvin and Friedman and referred the matter to the Racing and Wagering Board. A urine sample taken from the horse and sent to the Racing and Wagering Board's testing laboratory tested negative.

Tubing is the method used to deliver "milkshakes" into a horse's system. Milkshakes contain a variety of substances, and often include some form of bicarbonate of soda. It is supposed to provide an energy boost.

New York Post columnist Ray Kerrison reported on June 28 that the Racing and Wagering Board's lab at Cornell University does not test whether milkshakes have been administered. "We do not have the equipment or the manpower to do it," Kerrison quoted Dr. George Maylin, head of the Racing and Wagering Board's lab, as saying. "Our budget has been slashed almost in half."

In May, Meyocks followed Noe's directive to appoint and chair a three-person administrative hearing. The three people on the panel were NYRA employees.

Galvin and Murphy were given three days notice to prepare for the hearing. Although Murphy objected that NYRA had not given them enough time, the hearing went on as scheduled. After hearing 25 hours of testimony over four days, Meyocks testified in Go's court that the hearing panel found Galvin guilty after 45 minutes of deliberation.

"Guilty of what?" Murphy said. "We were never told the charges before the hearing and still don't know the charges. You can say 25 hours or 100 hours, but due process isn't measured in time. Because we were never told the charges and I didn't have the opportunity to look at the reports before the hearing, I didn't have the proper opportunity to defend Dr. Galvin. Some very fundamental principles of due process were not followed."

During the hour he spent on the stand in Judge Go's court, Noe contradicted Galvin's claim that the ban was the result of the NYRA chairman's longstanding dislike for him.

However, Murphy said it was Noe who asked the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau to begin the investigation of Galvin.

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