Suspended trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit that argues the Association of Racing Commissioners overstepped its bounds when it sent a letter to New York regulators encouraging them to review his racing license.
Dutrow, who began serving a 10-year suspension Jan. 17, is suing the New York State Gaming Commission (successor of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board); RCI; John Sabini, who had served as chairman of the NYSRWB and RCI (as well as in other RCI roles); NYSRWB members Daniel Hogan and Charles Diamond; and two unknown persons.
Filed Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, Dutrow's case centers on a February 2011 letter sent from RCI president Ed Martin to the NYSRWB encouraging the board to review Dutrow's license because of 64 rule violations in nine different states. The NYSRWB would eventually suspend Dutrow's license for 10 years.
"I formally request the board to commence a proceeding and issue a notice to show cause as to why his license should not be revoked given what appears to be a lifetime pattern of disregard for the rules of racing," Martin wrote in his letter to Gail Pronti, secretary to the NYSRWB.
RCI is an organization of state regulators that helps shape model rules to encourage consistency in a sport that is regulated at the state level. In the court filing, Dutrow contends RCI should not have influenced the New York regulators' decision.
"In February 2011, RCI committed an extraordinary act, in that it singled out Richard Dutrow and demanded —in a letter to the (NYSRWB), and publicly through a press release —that the (NYSRWB) commence a proceeding to revoke his license," the complaint states. "This letter and press release followed only a few months after the (NYSRWB) had renewed Dutrow's license, according to its own standards and regulations, but had been criticized for being too lenient on Dutrow."
The suit argues that Sabini's roles with the NYSRWB and RCI denied Dutrow, who won a pair of classic races with Big Brown in 2008, due process.
"At no time throughout the proceedings did Sabini recuse himself despite his inextricable involvement with accuser, ARCI; and judge (NYSRWB)," the suit states.
In January New York's highest court declined to hear an appeal by Dutrow. At that time, a NYSRWB release noted the numerous opportunities for due process afforded Dutrow.