Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Rick Dutrow's license revoked
By Tom Precious
New York regulators revoked Rick Dutrow's license for at least 10 years and fined him $50,000 for what they said has been a pattern of rules violations by the controversial trainer.
The three-member State Racing and Wagering Board reduced the penalty that was proposed by the hearing officer in the case: lifetime revocation of his license.
Dutrow, who one board member said has been cited for violating various racing rules in nine states and 15 tracks, also is barred from being on the grounds of any racetrack in New York during the 10-year period.
"Let this be a lesson to other people in the business," board chairman John Sabini said.
Sabini said Dutrow "has repeatedly violated rules in jurisdictions across the country and a license is a privilege and not a right."
But board member Daniel Hogan said providing a sunset period to the revocation is "more appropriate" than a lifetime ban for Dutrow, who trained 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown.
Hogan said that although Dutrow loves the sport of racing, "he loved winning more and he wasn't above breaking rules to win."
Dutrow also is not allowed to train in Kentucky, which denied him a license in April. He has appealed that decision.
Dutrow and his lawyer were not immediately available for comment.
Originally, Dutrow was hit with a 90-day suspension after officials found the painkiller butorphanol in a urine sample from Fastus Cactus, who finished last Nov. 20 in the third race at Aqueduct, and a subsequent discovery of hypodermic needles in a Dutrow barn.
The racing board later increased the penalty to a full revocation of his license, saying he is a "person whose conduct at racetracks in New York State and elsewhere has been improper, obnoxious, unbecoming, and detrimental to the best interests of racing."
Dutrow had been training horses, as permitted, during his appeal of the board's proposed punishment.
The trainer has steadfastly denied the board's most recent allegations, and said he wasn't even in the state when the drug was found in the urine sample last year.
"I wouldn't do something improper with any of my horses," Dutrow said in June. "I've done really good in the game
and I wouldn't risk that for anything."
Besides denying the charges, Dutrow's lawyer, Michael Koenig, has claimed Dutrow's right to due process was violated by the racing board. Chief among the issues raised by Koenig is the connection between racing board chairman John Sabini, who is on the board of the Racing Commissioners International, and the group's president, Ed Martin.
A former top official at the New York racing board, Martin urged Sabini to revoke, and not just suspend, Dutrow's license, noting that the trainer has a long history of problems, including 69 rules infractions in different states since 1979, including a 2005 case when he continued training during a suspension period.
The board's hearing officer in the case, Clemente Parente, recommended that Dutrow never be allowed to train again in New York, and that he pay $50,000 in fines for the two violations from last fall.
Sabini said the 10-year suspension begins next week, giving time for Dutrow-trained horses already entered in races to run. "If we have even a smell of third-party training here," Sabini said of Dutrow's conduct during the suspension period, "we're not going to look kindly on it."
Board member Charles Diamond said Dutrow's conduct has been "inconsistent with the best interests of racing."
He called a permanent revocation, however, "too severe" and proposed the 10-year ban instead.