PHRC Upholds Tracks' Right to Reject Entries

Parx Racing is examining the license of Burton Sipp after his ban at Penn National.

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission April 17 upheld the ban of trainer Burton Sipp by Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, and also agreed that Parx Racing has the right to exclude the trainer if it sees fit.

The action by the PHRC stemmed from attempts by Sipp to enter horses earlier this year at both Pennsylvania racetracks. A hearing on the Parx case was held March 15, while the Penn National hearing was held March 28.

According to the adjudication and order document, Sipp attempted to enter a horse at Penn National March 20 but was denied the privilege by Chris McErlean, vice president of racing for track owner Penn National Gaming Inc. The trainer appealed the refusal of his entry.

The April 17 order states McErlean cited Sipp's various infractions over the years and a 1998 order by the New Jersey Racing Commission that he would never apply for another racing license in the state. Sipp's 1993 ban from Penn National for "past wrongdoing" was upheld by the courts, though the trainer was eligible again to apply to the PHRC for a racing license.

Sipp, through attorney Alan Pincus, acknowledged he had made mistakes but has raced horses in other jurisdictions for the past 15 years without incident. Sipp was the leading trainer during the recent winter/spring meet at Turfway Park in Kentucky, and is currently racing horses in Ohio and West Virginia.

The Parx situation is different, in that Sipp already raced a horse there earlier this year. Racing officials at Parx were in the process of validating Sipp's application to race and denied entry of another horse, which led Sipp to take legal action.

The April 17 PHRC order states that Parx and Sipp must "resume the process necessary to complete the validation process," and that the racetrack will decide within 30 days whether to accept entries from Sipp.