Judge Grants Stay of Veitch Suspension

Former chief racing steward in Kentucky was suspended for one year.

A Circuit Court judge has granted a stay of the enforcement of a one-year suspension imposed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on former chief steward John Veitch.

The stay was issued April 11 by Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate following a hearing on a motion filed on behalf of Veitch by Lexington attorney Tom Miller.

In February, the KHRC voted unanimously to follow hearing officer Robert Layton’s recommendation to suspend Veitch for 365 days in connection with his handling of the Life At Ten situation during the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I).

Layton determined Veitch had violated racing rules by not having Life At Ten inspected by a veterinarian or scratched from the Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs after jockey John Velazquez told an ESPN audience the filly was not warming up properly prior to the race. Among other charges, Layton ruled Veitch should have ordered Life At Ten tested after the Ladies’ Classic, in which she was not persevered with and ran last as the 7-2 second choice.

The commission had already fired Veitch without cause last Nov. 28.

Miller said having the commission’s suspension stayed means his client will now be able to actively seek employment within other racing jurisdictions. As long as the suspension was in place, Veitch was limited in his ability to find work because other states would honor the suspension as part of reciprocity between racing jurisdictions.

Now, Miller said, the stay granted by Wingate will make Veitch employable and also permit him to go to racetracks to see industry contacts that could be helpful in his job search.

In his motion requesting the stay, Miller reiterated many of the points made in a legal action filed in Franklin Circuit Court. In his filing, Veitch seeks to be reinstated to his former job and seeks damages for lost income and attorney’s fees.

Veitch, who has also filed appeals of his firing with the state, contends he was singled out for disciplinary action, noting that no other steward was disciplined. The petition also contends the regulations he is charged with violating are unconstitutionally vague and indefinite.

Miller said Wingate’s stay of the suspension does not address the merits of Veitch’s other legal filing.

Layton conducted three days of hearings into the matter after the KHRC voted there was probable cause that Veitch and Velazquez had violated rules of racing as part of their roles in the incident. Velazquez did not admit to any wrongdoing but paid a $5,000 fine and made a $5,000 charitable contribution as part of a settlement with the commission.