John Veitch

John Veitch

Anne M. Eberhardt

Kentucky Commission Upholds Veitch Suspension

Fired in late November, ex-chief steward's one-year ban could be honored elsewhere.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously Feb. 15 to suspend fired chief state steward John Veitch for one year in connection with his actions surrounding the Life At Ten case.

Following a closed executive session, the commission upheld a recommendation from hearing officer Robert Layton that Veitch be suspended for 365 days. The suspension begins 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 concluded Veitch violated five rules of racing in connection with how he handled the Life At Ten incident before, during, and after the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

Layton determined Veitch had violated rules by not having Life At Ten inspected by a veterinarian or scratched from the race 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 his appeal, Veitch claims 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.

In the supplemental appeal, Veitch is asking Layton to find that his dismissal was ineffective and that he be reinstated to his old job and be awarded damages for Vance’s actions.

Also following the executive session, the commission upheld the 180-day suspension of trainer David Pate for a positive test for the presence of desmethyltramadol in November 2010.

According to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, the drug is a Class 2, narcotic analgesic that has no legitimate therapeutic application in the racehorse.