A judge for U.S. District Court in central Pennsylvania ruled May 26 a lawsuit filed by owner Michael Gill and trainer Anthony Adamo against a group of jockeys will be allowed to proceed.
Judge John E. Jones III adopted an April 26 recommendation by Magistrate Judge William T. Prince that Gill and Adamo “provided sufficient facts to establish basis for relief.” The men in December 2010 sued jockeys at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, alleging they interfered with their business by threatening a boycott of their horses and claiming their horses were a safety hazard.
The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, not Penn National, banned the pair in February 2010 after the threatened boycott. Allegations the horses were unfit to race were never proven; the situation led to a grand jury investigation.
The May 26 ruling notes the complaint by plaintiffs Gill and Adamo is based not on their ejection from Penn National but on the jockeys’ alleged actions that resulted in the ejection.
“Although the plaintiffs alleged the (jockeys) violated the rules of racing, that allegation is supportive of their claim of interfere with a business relationship, not the basis for it,” the ruling states.
In March a federal judge allowed a lawsuit against the PHRC by Gill and Adamo to proceed as well. Gill and Adamo filed the lawsuit last year, claiming their constitutional rights were violated when they weren’t given hearings into their eviction from Penn National.
Gill was ejected from Penn National by the PHRC to “protect the orderly conduct of racing,” but no safety-related charges were levied against Gill. Adamo also was ejected for the same reasons, but the ejection was rescinded before his July 2010 suspension.
The PHRC at the time of the ejections said it had received “multiple reports” that the presence of Gill and Adamo caused disruptions at Penn National, located near Harrisburg. The commission cited letters received from Penn National management, jockeys, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, but never documented exactly why the men were kicked out of Penn National.
The situation exploded in late January 2010 when jockeys refused to ride Gill’s horses in races at Penn National. They did, however, continue riding his horses at Parx Racing, another Pennsylvania track; Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia; and Laurel Park in Maryland.
Regulators took no action against the jockeys who took off Gill horses saying they were lame, but then rode Gill’s horses at other tracks.
Gill, an Eclipse Award winning owner, told The Blood-Horse he would quit the Thoroughbred industry in part because of the “arrogance of racetrack owners.” From late winter to early spring 2010, he began dispersing his racing stock.