Veitch to Appeal One-Year Kentucky Suspension

Horse racing commission upheld hearing officer's recommendation Feb. 15.

An attorney for former Kentucky chief steward John Veitch said his client will appeal the Feb. 15 action by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in which it suspended Veitch for one year in connection with his actions surrounding the Life At Ten case.

Lexington attorney Tom Miller said Veitch, the Hall of Fame trainer who was fired from his KHRC position Nov. 28, 2011, will file an appeal in Franklin Circuit Court, as provided for in state statutes.

The KHRC voted unanimously Feb. 15 to uphold a recommendation from hearing officer Robert Layton that Veitch be suspended for 365 days.

According to KHRC general counsel Susan Speckert, Veitch is not currently licensed in Kentucky and the commission’s suspension means he cannot be licensed for one year. Speckert said the suspension began Feb. 16.

Although Veitch was fired by the commission on Nov. 28, 2011, the suspension would be imposed if he were to successfully appeal his firing. Also, other states would generally recognize the Kentucky action through reciprocity agreements.

Layton determined Veitch had violated rules by not having Life At Ten inspected by a veterinarian or scratched from the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) 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.

In suspending Veitch, the order signed by KHRC chairman Robert Beck Jr., said: “Veitch’s original conduct was not proven to be intentional, although his failure to act before the race is grossly negligent and harmful to the purpose of the commission. That level of intent must be considered in determining the appropriate penalty.”

Veitch has appealed his dismissal, claiming he could not be fired without cause and that his firing was also age discrimination. He has also questioned the procedures followed in ordering his dismissal. He contends only the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, not Public Protection Cabinet secretary Robert Vance, had the authority to dismiss him.