In a decision that upholds the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's ability to deny racing licenses, a hearing officer has upheld the KHRC's 2011 decision to deny trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. a racing license.
At this point the decision itself is the least of Dutrow's problems. His license was suspended for 10 years in New York. Because of reciprocity rules in Kentucky and other racing states, Dutrow will not be able to race horses until that suspension concludes or is otherwise resolved.
But the Feb. 4 decision by the Kentucky Office of Administrative Hearings should strengthen the KHRC's position going forward should it choose to deny future license applications by potential participants with long records of misconduct. In 2011, the KHRC's License Review Committee unanimously voted to not give Dutrow a racing license.
"Dutrow's own admissions justify the committee's denial of his license application," hearing officer Robert Layton said in his decision, before specifically noting an incident when Dutrow falsified a workout by Wild Desert at Monmouth Park. "Appearing before the committee, Dutrow also blithely justified his deceptive conduct as necessary and appropriate."
The hearing officer fully backed the KHRC's decision and its process for reaching that decision.
"Dutrow's record indicates a consistent and egregious lack of respect for and disregard of the rules of racing, thereby adversely affecting the public interest in the proper control of horse racing," Layton said. "The KHRC is charged with protecting the public's interest in the honesty and integrity of horse racing and is statutorily mandated to maintain and promote horse racing of the highest possible quality and free of any corrupt or dishonest practices."
The decision noted that KHRC executive director at the time, Lisa Underwood, had the authority to deny the license but showed discretion in referring the decision to the License Review Committee. Layton pointed out that because Dutrow was asking the KHRC for the privilege of participating in racing in Kentucky, the trainer had the burden to show the propriety of being granted a license as well as entitlement to that benefit.
Dutrow was denied a racing license in the spring of 2011, when the then New York-based trainer had hoped to start horses at Keeneland. At the time, the New York Racing and Wagering Board was beginning to look into Dutrow's long record—that an Association of Racing Commissioners International letter said included 64 violations in 15 racing jurisdictions—to determine if that amounted to a pattern of disregard of the rules sufficient to justify action against his license. (Ultimately the NYSRWB suspended that license 10 years.)