Breeders' Cup: KHRC Rules on Life At Ten Incident

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) voted there was probable cause to believe that both jockey John Velazquez and chief state steward John Veitch were in violation of regulations regarding Life At Ten's participation in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, held Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The commission's action, taken after a nearly three-hour closed executive session during its monthly meeting March 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington, coincided with the release of a report into the incident.

The matter was decided on a 9-1 vote for both Velazquez and Veitch, who were charged with probable cause of three and five violations, respectively, in connection with the incident. Foster Northrup, DVM, a racetrack veterinarian, was the only commissioner present to vote against probable cause that Velazquez violated three regulations. Commissioner John Ward, a trainer, was the only one to vote against probable cause in the case of Veitch.

The decision will now be sent to a hearing officer who will issue a report stating if there were in fact violations, and giving recommendations for penalties.

Life At Ten, owned by Candy DeBartolo and trained by Todd Pletcher, finished last in the Ladies' Classic 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 1 1/8-mile race.

Before the race, Velazquez told retired jockey Jerry Bailey, who was assisting with the ESPN coverage of the Breeders' Cup, the filly did not look right, but he apparently did not relay those concerns to the stewards or any KHRC veterinarians.

The Office of the Inspector General in the Kentucky Transportation Department also assisted the KHRC in its probe. Though the commission staff, under its director of security, conducted the bulk of the investigation, the Transportation Department official was brought in to handle the role of the stewards in the Life At Ten matter to avoid conflicts of interest.

The report said there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing or nefarious or fraudulent activity, but "in some instances there was not a specific rules violation but, rather, a failure of common sense to prevail." The report also reveals a systematic breakdown in communications among the various people either working directly for Life At Ten and her connections or working for the KHRC and the Breeders' Cup.

KHRC director of enforcement Patrick Adams led the investigation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Office of Inspector General was called in to analyze the racing stewards' activities as an outside, independent party in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. In all, 90 people were interviewed either by the KHRC enforcement staff or the Office of Inspector General, according to the commission.

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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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