It is unlikely that an investigation into Life At Ten’s participation in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) will be completed in time for a report to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at its next meeting.
Lisa Underwood, the KHRC executive director, said Nov. 30 that the regulatory body’s staff is undertaking an extensive investigation into the Life At Ten incident and that all of the interviews wouldn't be completed in time for a report to the commission at its Dec. 13 meeting.
The 3-year-old filly owned by Candy DeBartolo and trained by Todd Pletcher finished last in the Ladies Classic at second choice odds of 7-2. With jockey John Velazquez aboard, Life At Ten had no run when the field left the gate, and she was not persevered with throughout the 1 1/8-mile race.
Before the race, Velazquez told ESPN announcers that the filly did not look right, but apparently did not relay those concerns to the stewards or any KHRC veterinarians.
Subsequently, questions have been raised about the circumstances surrounding the race and Life At Ten’s participation. DeBartolo has issued a statement saying that the filly should have been scratched.
John Veitch, the chief steward for the KHRC, said the proper protocol is for a jockey or trainer who has concerns about a horse prior to the start of a race to report those issues to the stewards. He said neither Velazquez nor Pletcher contacted the stewards, veterinarians, or outriders, who are also involved in the reporting process.
“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission firmly believes its veterinarians and racing stewards acted properly in all instances regarding this race,” Veitch said in a statement shortly after the Breeders’ Cup.
Noting that she and her staff are devoting a large part of their daily schedules to the Life At Ten probe, Underwood said a large number of people are scheduled to be interviewed as part of the process. For example, there were 11 veterinarians working on the track at Churchill Downs when the Breeders’ Cup World Championships were run Nov. 5-6.
“It is a very thorough investigation,” Underwood said. “We take this very seriously. There will be some recommendations in the report.”
Underwood declined to say what specifically would be in the report, adding that it is premature to speculate since the investigation is ongoing. She also took issue with a published report stating that the commission has decided one way to deal with such situations in the future is to preclude jockeys from being interviewed by broadcast media during the time they are on the track immediately prior to a race.
“I have never said that,” Underwood said. “The investigation and the report are not even finished so no one knows what the recommendations are going to be.”