A Kentucky state judge has denied a motion from trainer Patrick Biancone to block an upcoming Kentucky Horse Racing Authority meeting set to discuss whether his suspension should be extended or not.
Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Wingate denied the motion for preliminary injunction, which claimed the KHRA did not have the jurisdiction to conduct such a hearing. In the order, Wingate said the hearing would not necessarily constitute irreparable harm to Biancone, which is a standard for granting such an injunction.
Specifically, Wingate wrote, “there remains a possibility that the authority will, upon meeting, determine the plaintiff did not violate terms of the settlement agreement. If this is the case, it would be difficult to find that the hearing itself constituted an irreparable injury.” Wingate also noted Biancone would have the right to appeal a decision if it went against him.
Biancone, who was suspended for six months beginning Nov. 1, 2007 for a medication violation, is under investigation by the KHRA for a possible violation of that suspension. A settlement agreement on that investigation was presented at the April meeting of the KHRA, but was not voted on by the authority.
A lawsuit was then filed by Biancone seeking to block another hearing on the settlement at the KHRA’s May 19 meeting. The injunction motion, which was denied by Wingate, was filed in that legal action.
The KHRA launched an investigation in January into whether Biancone violated his suspension by his activities at the Hurricane Hall Farm he and client Fab Oak Stables are in the process of purchasing.
Biancone denied that his activities at the farm violated the terms of his suspension, but agreed in April to a settlement that would extend the suspension period for another three months while eliminating the six-month period in which Biancone was prohibited from applying for a trainer’s license. The settlement was not voted on at the April 14 KHRA meeting.
Frank Becker, a Lexington-based attorney representing Biancone, said the injunction motion was filed to protect the interests of his client, and argued in a May 14 court hearing the court instead was the proper venue to conduct the hearing.
Wingate’s order clears the way for the settlement to be heard by the KHRA this month. The regular monthly meeting is scheduled for June 16, but KHRA general counsel John Forgy told The Blood-Horse in a voice mail message that the Biancone hearing will be held separately June 17.
“Although the authority’s enabling legislation does not specifically set forth the jurisdiction of the authority to hold hearings, it is clear the authority has the implied authority to do so,” Wingate wrote.
Becker told The Blood-Horse June 6 the settlement is fair to all parties. “We thought it was a good way to deal with the situation, and resolve a myriad of issues,” he said. “It was vigorously negotiated on both sides; it’s a good way to move forward.”
The attorney also said no other settlements are in place to dismiss the lawsuit, which have been rumored.