KHRC Rules on Life At Ten Situation
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted there was probable cause to believe that both jockey John Velazquez and chief state steward John Veitch were in violation of regulations regarding Life At Ten’s participation in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Read a summary of the report “Investigation of Events Surrounding the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic” here.
Read a full report of the investigation here.
Neither Northrop nor Ward would comment on the reason's for their votes. Other commissioners and KHRC executive director Lisa Underwood would discuss the commission's action, noting the on-going nature of the case.
The day after the Ladies' Classic, Pletcher said it appeared that Life At Ten had an allergic reaction Salix, a medication she was treated with prior to the race.
Kentucky has three stewards--Brooks Becraft, Rick Leigh, and Veitch.
The regulations involving Velazquez deal with requirements that a jockey ride out a horse until the end of a race unless there is a problem with the horse and acing in the best interests of racing.
The regulations involving Veitch deal with whether Life At Ten should have been scratched, the failure to conduct a post-race test, and whether there should have been an investigation into why the horse did not run to her normal form.
Specifically, the investigation revealed that about five minutes prior to the horses entering the starting gate, ESPN producer Amy Zimmerman brought it to the attention of the stewards that Velazquez had concerns about Life At Ten. Steward Brooks Becraft told the investigator that he observed something physically wrong with the horse, but steward Rick Leigh said he thought Life At Ten “looked choppy” but did not see anything out of the ordinary with her.
Becraft said he mentioned to the other stewards that the veterinarians should be contacted about Velazquez’ comments, but that Veitch responded “if we do that we might as well scratch the horse,” according to the report, which went on to say “Veitch denies hearing those comments from Becraft but acknowledges Becraft might have said it. Veitch denies responding ‘if we do that we might as well scratch the horse’.”
The report said Leigh recalled Becraft saying the horse should be looked at by a veterinarian, but recalled that was about the time the horses were being loaded into the starting gate. Also, the stewards stopped watching the ESPN broadcast after receiving Zimmerman’s call so they were unaware of comments made by Pletcher that Life At Ten was not herself in the paddock or a followup interview in which Velazquez said the filly still had not improved.
Both Becraft and Leigh said in hindsight they should have brought the matter to the attention of state veterinarian Bryce Peckham. Veitch said he believed Velazquez should have Life At Ten to the veterinarian.
The OIG report concluded that “there is confusion among the stewards regarding the chain of command. There was no clear understanding regarding the authority of each individual steward vis a vis the chief state steward.”
Following the March 10 commission meeting, Veitch declined comment on the commission's action. Asked about his status as chief steward, Veitch said he did not know.
Underwood said Veitch was still the state's chief steward.
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