Trainer Dutrow granted reprieve

Updated: October 17, 2011, 5:21 PM ET
By David Grening | Daily Racing Form



SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Richard Dutrow Jr., facing a 10-year revocation of his trainer's license for multiple rules violations, was given a reprieve Monday morning when a New York State Supreme Court judge issued a 30-day stay of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board's penalty handed down last week.

At the conclusion of a 30-minute hearing, Judge Richard Giardino issued the 30-day stay, saying he didn't feel "it would undermine the integrity of the system to allow the stay." Had the judge denied the stay, Dutrow would have been banned from the grounds of New York tracks beginning Tuesday.

Dutrow did not attend the hearing in Schenectady. Instead, he was at his Aqueduct barn. Reached by phone, Dutrow said he was relieved to get the stay and has tried to remain positive through this process.

"I'm glad I still get to go to the barn," Dutrow, 52, said. "I got a very positive attitude here, no negativism at all. It's easy for me to get up in the morning and go to the barn. Everything else comes so naturally for me there."

Dutrow has won 1,180 races in his career, including the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Big Brown. He won the 2005 Breeders' Cup Classic with Saint Liam, who went on to be voted Horse of the Year.

The stay will enable Dutrow to continue to train horses until his appeal is heard. Dutrow's attorneys have 30 days to file paperwork for an appeal, at which time they will have to seek another stay of the board's penalties -- which included fines totaling $50,000 -- while that case is being heard.

Under state law, Dutrow's attorneys would have had as many as 120 days to file the appeal, but Michael Koenig, Dutrow's attorney, volunteered to expedite the process and sought only 30.

"We're very satisfied with the judge's decision," Koenig said after the hearing. "We are satisfied that we received 30 days, because Rick Dutrow is not looking to delay a resolution to this case. We are ready to move forward, we just want to make sure we have a fair and meaningful opportunity to do so. That's why we are very comfortable saying we can do this within 30 days. We're comfortable with the case, we're comfortable with the facts, and we look forward to bringing this to the courts."

Adrienne Kerwin, representing the state attorney general's office, which is now handling the case, referred all questions to her press office.

While the press office denied official comment, paperwork filed by the attorney general's office in arguing against the stay said Dutrow's attorneys did not satisfy the requirements to obtain a stay. Further, the papers said that delaying "his departure from racing will exact a heavy price in public perception of the integrity of horse racing."

The New York Racing Association, which has granted Dutrow stalls at Aqueduct for years, said in a statement that it would not take any action on Dutrow during the appeal's process.

"This matter is pending before the court. When the court makes its determination, NYRA will abide by the court's decision," the statement read.

On Oct. 12, the State Racing and Wagering Board voted unanimously to revoke Dutrow's license for a 10-year period based on a history of rules violations. The board determined that Dutrow's conduct and participation in racing is "unbecoming and detrimental to the best interests of racing."

Most recently, the board cited Dutrow for a drug positive regarding the finding of butorphanol, a painkiller, in the post-race sample of Fastus Cactus, who won a race at Aqueduct in November 2010. Also, a random search of Dutrow's barns three weeks earlier found three syringes loaded with the medication xyzaline, a painkiller. The board issued 90 days worth of suspensions to Dutrow in those two incidents, which are part of the current appeal.

In June, the State Racing and Wagering Board held a "show-cause" hearing to determine if Dutrow's license should be suspended or revoked. Hearing officer Clemente Parente presided over the three-day hearing and in September he recommended to the board that Dutrow's license be revoked permanently.

The three-member board, which includes chairman John Sabini, ruled that Dutrow would be eligible to reapply for a license in 10 years.

The spring hearing into Dutrow's license was announced shortly after Ed Martin, executive director of the Racing Commissioners International, sent a letter in February to the NYSRWB calling for a review of Dutrow's license. At the time of the letter, Sabini was treasurer/secretary of the RCI. Koenig feels that represents a "significant" conflict of interest.

"What Mr. Sabini's one board was vigorously advocating for his other board controlled and decided," Koenig said. "That violated due process."

Koenig also said that a 10-year license revocation was unprecedented and argued that it's "a death sentence for his career," adding that owners are not going to wait a decade for Dutrow to return to work.

"The punishment is so grossly disproportionate and that's the legal standard -- is the punishment to be so grossly disproportionate to be unfair," Koenig said.