New York's highest court has declined—for the second time in three months—to hear an appeal by trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. in his legal bid to keep racing regulators from revoking his license to work in New York State.
With the Jan. 8 court ruling, state officials said Dutrow could lose his license to train in New York as early as within the next several days, depending on whether Dutrow's lawyers seek relief from federal courts.
John Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering board, said today's ruling by the Court of Appeals exhausts Dutrow's legal options in the state court system. The case has gone through an administrative hearing at the racing board and three levels of civil courts in the state.
"Upon service of the the order on Mr. Dutrow, the penalties issued against him by the board—a 10-year ban from racing in New York and $50,000 in fines—are expected to take effect,'' Sabini said in a statement.
"The court's actions confirm that cheaters who repeatedly violate the rules have no place in New York racing,'' Sabini said of the state's case against Dutrow that also included the trainer's many racing rule violations over the years.
A stay had allowed Dutrow to continue training despite the license revocation and $50,000 fine he was slapped with by the NYSRWB. The regulatory panel had ruled, before the court challenges, that Dutrow be banned from training in New York for at least the next 10 years.
Michael Koenig, Dutrow's lawyer, previously said the latest appeal to the state's highest court would be the last attempt in state court. It is uncertain whether Dutrow might have any legal avenues in federal courts to try to keep his license.
"In almost 20 years, I have never been as disappointed or disheartened by a decision. I'm just sick to my stomach over it,'' said Michael Koenig, Dutrow's lawyer.
"We are now considering what options exist,'' he said in an email response to The Blood Horse.
Dutrow, the trainer of 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Big Brown, appealed a July 19 decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, which unanimously upheld the revocation, saying he had "engaged in conduct that was improper and inconsistent with the public interest and the best interests of racing."
Originally, Dutrow was hit with a 90-day suspension after officials found the painkiller butorphanol in a urine sample from Fastus Cactus, who finished last in the third race Nov. 20, 2010, at Aqueduct Racetrack. There was a subsequent discovery of hypodermic needles in a Dutrow barn.
The NYSRWB later increased the penalty to a full revocation of his license, saying Dutrow is a "person whose conduct at racetracks in New York State and elsewhere has been improper, obnoxious, unbecoming, and detrimental to the best interests of racing."