The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on June 8 unanimously rejected a request from trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. to withdraw his application for a license to race in the state in 2011.
Dutrow, who is facing disciplinary action in New York, had his license application rejected by the KHRC’s license review committee on April 13 after a one-hour hearing in which Dutrow was questioned about the lengthy list of violations on his record and inconsistencies on his license applications this year and in previous years. Dutrow’s attorneys have appealed that decision.
In a June 7 letter to KHRC general counsel Susan Speckert, attorney Garland “Andy” Barr asked that Dutrow be permitted to withdraw his license application and that such action be communicated to the Association of Racing Commissioners International with a notation that the withdrawal “shall not constitute a denial or suspension of a license and is without prejudice.”
Generally, withdrawal of a license application would be viewed differently than would a license rejection when other jurisdictions consider whether to take similar actions against Dutrow under reciprocity agreements that are honored between states.
As a result of the June 8 commission action, Dutrow’s appeal will continue through the regulatory process, which includes a hearing and appointment of a hearing officer. Had the commission granted the request to withdraw, the appeal would have been dropped.
Lisa Underwood, KHRC executive director, declined to comment on the commission’s action or the request from Barr, other than to say the commission disputes some of the statements in the document.
Barr said the KHRC’s decision to deny Dutrow a license for 2011 after previously licensing him on an annual basis was arbitrary under the U.S. and Kentucky Constitutions. The attorney noted that the only things that had changed in Dutrow’s status was two pending disciplinary actions in New York and a letter from RCI president Ed Martin calling for the New York Racing and Wagering Board to show cause as to why Dutrow’s license should not be revoked in the Empire State.
He noted that since the suspensions handed Dutrow in New York have been appealed and have been stayed, Kentucky regulators should consider testimony offered on behalf of the trainer during a recent three-day hearing in consideration of the request to withdraw the license application. After all, Barr noted, Kentucky was relying upon the New York actions as part of its license denial.
Dutrow was originally given a 90-day suspension after officials found the painkiller butorphanol in a urine sample from Fastus Cactus, who finished last Nov. 20 in the third race at Aqueduct. Subsequently, hypodermic needles were detected in a Dutrow barn. Dutrow has denied any knowledge or involvement in any alleged violations.
The racing board then initiated the latest proceedings, arguing that his conduct has been “improper, obnoxious, unbecoming, and detrimental to the best interests of racing.”
“In fact, at this very moment Mr. Dutrow is under no restrictions to train horses in New York and has vigorously contested both suspension orders at an administrative hearing last week,” the letter stated. “Given its admitted reliance on the New York suspensions as grounds for its denial of the Kentucky license, the commission should seriously consider the proof offered in the New York hearing.”
Among those testifying on behalf of Dutrow in New York were prominent equine veterinarian Larry Bramlage and Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr.
In his letter on behalf of his client, Barr also notes that the license review committee initiated the license application from Dutrow and that Dutrow appeared without counsel at the hearing. At the time of the hearing, Dutrow had not received a 2011 Kentucky license and had horses entered to run at Keeneland.
Following the denial of his license, Dutrow protested that he should have been given some indication that his license application might be rejected.
“We believe that soliciting a license application without fully informing the applicant of the licensing body’s reservations and then failing to notify the applicant, who is without the assistance of counsel, of his right to withdraw the application in advance of an adverse decision when that adverse decision could have negative ramifications in other jurisdictions is a fundamentally unfair and inequitable process,” the letter stated.