John Veitch, the Hall of Fame trainer who was fired from his position as chief racing steward in Kentucky, has filed legal documents seeking to be reinstated and to have a one-year suspension imposed on him lifted.
On Feb. 15, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously to accept a hearing officer’s report concluding that Veitch had violated the state’s rules of racing in connection with his handling of the Life At Ten matter at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I). In accepting the report, the commission also followed hearing officer Robert Layton’s recommendation to suspend Veitch for 365 days. The commission had already fired Veitch without cause last Nov. 28.
Layton determined Veitch had violated 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.
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.
In a petition filed in Franklin (Kentucky) Circuit Court, Veitch seeks to be reinstated to his former job, seeks damages for lost income and attorney’s fees, and seeks an injunction blocking enforcement of the suspension.
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.
In the petition, filed by Lexington attorney Tom Miller, Veitch said the suspension will preclude him from being able to obtain a steward’s position in another state because other jurisdictions honor licenses and punishment meted out by other jurisdictions.