Penalties in 'Program Trainer' Case Upheld

The West Virginia Racing Commission took the action during its Oct. 22 meeting.

The West Virginia Racing Commission Oct. 22 upheld a hearing officer's recommendation not to lessen penalties given to two horsemen involved in the use of a "program trainer" at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

The commission, acting on a Sept. 20 recommendation by hearing examiner Jeff Blaydes, upheld indefinite license ineligibility for trainer Scooter Davis and a one-year suspension for trainer Doug Shanyfelt that extends through March 24, 2014.

Both men have the option of appealing the unanimous WVRC decision in circuit court.

Davis had been under suspension for six months through Feb. 21, 2013, for a clenbuterol positive, but before the suspension ended Perfect Start, a horse he owned and trained as of Aug. 11, 2012, raced six times at Charles Town and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, according to legal documents. Shanyfelt was listed as trainer and Noelle Kucera as owner.

The hearing examiner's report states that Davis transferred about 50 horses to Shanyfelt, who was told by stewards Davis could not be involved in their training. Video surveillance in a barn area across the street from Charles Town caught Davis on tape at trainer Freddie Johnson's barn, where Shanyfelt was leasing space for seven horses, on Feb. 13.

"The video evidence clearly depicts Davis exercising care, custody, and control of a Thoroughbred going to race at the track," the report states.

Davis and Shanyfelt were ejected by Charles Town in the case, as were Davis' father, Billy Ray Davis, and Cliff Tuomiso. The four men appealed their ejections; the WVRC is holding off on those hearings until the permit issues are resolved.

In another case, the WVRC upheld Blaydes' recommendation involving Stephen Pollard, who was ejected by Charles Town officials for saddling a horse he didn't train. Blaydes recommended the ejection be upheld, but he also recommended an expiration date for the ejection.

The WVRC began the process of hearing appeals from ejected permit-holders after the state Supreme Court of Appeals, in a 3-2 vote in November 2011, sided with the commission in its contention that such individuals have the right to appeal ejections. The opinion stemmed from a legal case involving jockeys ejected from Charles Town for allegedly misrepresenting their riding weights, but other permit-holders have fought ejections at Charles Town as well.