KY Personnel Board Upholds Veitch Firing

Panel goes against hearing officer recommendation, affirms chief steward's dismissal.

The Kentucky Personnel Board has determined that former Kentucky racing chief steward John Veitch was properly dismissed in November 2011.

In April a hearing officer for the Kentucky Personnel Board recommended that Veitch be reinstated because he was improperly removed from his post. The hearing officer said Veitch should have been fired by the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, not the Public Protection Cabinet.

But in its July 12 ruling, the personnel board determined that Public Protection Cabinet secretary Robert Vance had the authority to dismiss Veitch.

"We reversed the hearing officer's recommendation and found that secretary Vance had the authority to fire Mr. Veitch and upheld the dismissal and dismissed his appeal," said Mark Sipek, Kentucky Personnel Board executive director, after the meeting concluded.

Sipek said a written order would be sent out early next week.

Veitch was dismissed without cause in a Nov. 28 letter from Holly McCoy-Johnson, the appointing authority for the Public Protection Cabinet. In a supplemental appeal filed on behalf of Veitch, attorney Tom Miller said Veitch's dismissal was initiated by Vance. The KHRC falls under the auspices of the Public Protection Cabinet.

The July 12 decision leaves no further appeals within the state government. Veitch also is pursuing litigation seeking to overturn the KHRC's upholding a hearing officer's recommendation that he be suspended for a year for his handling of the Life At Ten situation at the 2011 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I). Following that suspension, Veitch subsequently was dismissed.

Life At Ten, the 7-2 second-choice in the Ladies' Classic, finished last in that Churchill Downs race after showing little. A hearing officer determined Veitch, the Hall of Fame trainer who oversaw day-to-day regulation of Kentucky racing, violated five rules in his role as chief steward by failing to have Life At Ten inspected by veterinarians prior to the race and by not having the filly sent for a post-race drug test.