Breeders' Cup: Life At Ten Jockey Agrees to Pay $10,000 Fine

Jockey John Velazquez agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) to settle the complaint filed against him in the Life At Ten case regarding the mare's participation in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, held Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

According to the agreement worked out with Velazquez's attorneys and approved by the commission March 6, half the fine will be paid to the Disabled Jockeys Fund.

The agreement brings to a close the commission's case against Velazquez that was precipitated by the lackluster performance of Life At Ten in the Ladies' Classic. The commission began an investigation after the race due to the lack of effort by the second favorite in the race. Prior to the race, Velazquez told an ESPN reporter on horseback that the mare did not warm up like she usually did. An ESPN producer relayed that information to the stewards, but Life At Ten was permitted to run.

In the Ladies' Classic Life At Ten broke slowly and was eventually eased by Velazquez. A day later, trainer Todd Pletcher said Life At Ten apparently had an allergic reaction to anti-bleeder medication.

On March 16 the commission charged that Velazquez had violated Kentucky's rules of racing by making comments to the ESPN broadcasters about Life At Ten' condition, by failing to notify veterinarians of his concerns, and by failing to ride Life At Ten out and easing her without adequate cause.

Velazquez, who is the regular rider of Uncle Mo, the 2010 champion 2-year-old male and current favorite for the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, stipulated in the agreement that one or more rules may have been violated and waived his right to a hearing.

In a statement released after the commission approved the agreement, Velazquez continued to maintain he did nothing wrong.

"I firmly believe that ending this matter now is in the best interests of racing," Velazquez said in the statement. "I have ridden in over 21,000 races, and I can tell you that the safety of every single one of those horses was, and remains, for me foremost. A prolonged legal battle will not serve the Industry well. It will, in fact, distract us from all that is positive and great about this sport. I have not been cited with a single racing rule violation in the past 12 years. While I do not agree with the 'charges' noticed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission nor do I concede any guilt, I do believe that this resolution is right for racing."

Lisa Underwood, the KHRC's executive director, declined to provide details of what led to the settlement, other than to say attorneys for the jockey contacted the commission shortly after the charges were filed.

Underwood said a hearing has not been scheduled in connection with the commission's action against chief state steward John Veitch. The commission on March 16 charged Veitch with five possible violations of racing rules in connection with the incident.

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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