The New York state Racing and Wagering Board on Wednesday ordered Dr. Michael Galvin to begin serving a 45-day suspension next week -- in the middle of the busy Saratoga meet -- for sloppy record keeping that stemmed from a controversial 1998 incident in which the veterinarian was accused of illegally tubing a horse. Galvin was also slapped with a $15,000 penalty. (Tubing is the practice of administering a substance to a horse via a tube inserted into the animal's stomach through the nose).
The revised penalties came after Galvin exhausted his legal challenges to the board's 1998 ruling which suspended him from racing for 60 days, which had been put on hold during Galvin's legal appeals. The original 60-day suspension order did not include any financial penalty.
"Nothing has changed," board chairman Michael J. Hoblock said in dismissing Galvin's final bid to delay his suspension. He added, "He is a vet. We're not telling him he can't work. We're just telling him he can't work at a racetrack for a short time."
Galvin was accused of tubing Hip Wolf, a bay filly, on the day she was to race, March 27, 1998, at Aqueduct. NYRA suspended Galvin from its three tracks for the remainder of the year, though that was lifted by a judge who said Galvin's due process rights had been violated by NYRA. Galvin then sued NYRA for $30 million, settling more than a year later for a reported $500,000.
But the NYRA settlement did not make the state racing board's 1998 suspension go away. At that time, board officials, calling into question a number of irregularities that surfaced about Galvin's pre-race activities on the day he was accused of tubing Hip Wolf, said there was not enough evidence to prove that a drugging had occurred. Instead, it slapped Galvin with a 60 day suspension for being unable to produce records about his treatments. Hoblock at that time likened Galvin's behavior to that of a doctor making rounds in a hospital and not knowing the identity of his patients, while board member Joseph Neglia said he had been "overwhelmed by the unprofessional performance of Dr. Michael Galvin on that particular day."
In other board action, the racing regulators deferred decision on plans to enact tough new random drug testing plans to crack down on the illegal use of milkshakes in the harness industry. The board had said it was going to implement the new rules on an emergency basis at its Wednesday meeting to target "unscrupulous characters" who seek to pump up the performance of their horses with a pre-race combination of carbonate, sugar and other substances. A board spokeswoman said the matter was put off following a new lawsuit in New Jersey over that state's similar new drug testing program.