John Veitch is back on the job market.
The suspension handed down to the former Kentucky chief racing steward expired July 20, meaning that for the first time in nearly a year and a half there is no legal prohibition to him seeking and receiving a license to serve in an official capacity in racing jurisdictions across the country.
Veitch's suspension from the chief steward position came at the hands of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for his handling of the Life At Ten episode at the 2010 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs. Before the suspension, Veitch was fired by the state Public Protection Cabinet.
Life At Ten was listless in the saddling enclosure and paddock before going to the racetrack for the Ladies' Classic (gr. I), and a television producer phoned Veitch to let him know jockey John Velazquez had said in a TV interview that the filly was not feeling up to par. Veitch subsequently said if he had alerted one of the official veterinarians on track of the situation it would be tantamount to an automatic scratch of the horse based on hearsay.
Velazquez allowed Life At Ten to break behind the field leaving the gate and did not persevere with the filly in the race as she finished last as the 7-2 second-choice. Velazquez told a racetrack official after the race, "I should have scratched her." While admitting no wrongdoing, he paid a $10,000 fine and received no further sanction.
Veitch refused to admit wrongdoing and also refused to pay a fine, and was suspended for 365 days. The KHRC upheld a hearing officer's recommendation that Veitch be suspended for his actions before and after the Ladies' Classic in connection with Life At Ten.
Veitch has not been able to find work in racing since. Like his father, Syl, Veitch is a Hall of Fame trainer, and believes his family's reputation has been at stake.
Veitch said July 25 he has been talking to racing people around the country seeking employment.
"I'll take any type of job," he said. "The (Kentucky) racing commission, I feel, has not only accused me wrongly, they've also ruined my reputation, and it has had a tremendous impact on me trying to make a living."
Veitch said in the past year he has received a couple of potential job offers, but the commission has refused to grant him a license, making it impossible for him to be hired.
"We did say a while ago that if John was licensed, we would certainly consider him for a job in the racing office," said Rogers Beasley, director of racing at Keeneland. "But he was not licensed at that time."
"What the commission has told us is that John has to have a written job offer before they would consider licensing him," said Veitch's Lexington-based attorney, Tom Miller. "That just doesn't make sense. If you want a job, you get a license and get qualified first, and then go apply for the job.
"I have reviewed documents, and there have been a number of people who have been licensed before they were hired."
Veitch said he is now supposed to go before a licensing review commission. "It's just harassment on the part of the commission, which is what this whole case has been," he said of the requirement that he appear before the licensing panel.