Court Overturns Martin Ban in Indiana

Latest round in battle between Ed Martin Jr. and IHRC.

An Indiana judge has found in favor of the former executive director of the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in his ongoing battle with the state’s racing commission.

In a recent ruling, Marion County Superior Court Judge S.K. Reid said a 2010 order issued by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission barring Ed Martin, Jr. from the state’s racetracks for one year was “erroneous.”

The commission had issued the order against Martin for his refusal to obtain a license in his role as ITOBA executive director. Even though Martin didn’t race any horses in Indiana that year, the commission said he should have obtained a license because he worked for ITOBA, which receives financial support from the commission and conducts its business at the track.

Martin contended he did not need a license to perform his duties with the organization and his ban is therefore unmerited. He alleged the real reason behind his punishment is because of his public criticism of the commission. Martin resigned from his ITOBA position in November 2010.

“All directors, officers, and employees of a registered horsemen’s association that will have access to any funds received if not otherwise licensed and in good standing with the commission, must apply for and be granted a separate commission license to act as a director, officer, or employee of a horsemen’s association in order to serve in that capacity,” the IHRC rules stated at the time of the action against Martin."

Reid said Martin has “carried the burden of demonstrating the invalidity of the action of the IHRC” and that Martin “has been prejudiced by the final order of the IHRC and the exclusion that is the subject thereof.”

In addition to banning Martin from the tracks, the commission launched an investigation into a supposed horse neglect situation at Martin’s Thoroughbred farm near Reddick, Fla. Martin, who has since sold his horses and the farm, was exonerated from any neglect charges by Horse Protection Association of Florida as well as the Marion County animal protection department. Martin said his efforts to obtain the results of the IHRC investigation of his Florida farm have been unsuccessful. He said the decision that he did not need to be licensed to perform his duties with the breeders' organization negates the premise behind why the IHRC felt it could conduct the Florida farm investigation.

Martin has filed a separate federal lawsuit in connection with the horse neglect investigation.