Veitch Files Additional Appeal of Dismissal

Former chief state steward in Kentucky claims firing was improper and illegal.

Former Kentucky chief steward John Veitch has filed a supplemental appeal of his Nov. 28 dismissal from his position, claiming that he was illegally and improperly fired by the secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet.

In the supplemental appeal, which is in addition to a Nov. 30 appeal filed on behalf of the Hall of Fame trainer, Veitch claims only the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, not Public Protection Cabinet secretary Robert Vance, had the authority to dismiss him.

“My dismissal was not only improper, but violated my statutory and constitutional rights because Vance… had no authority to dismiss me as chief state steward,” Veitch said in the supplemental appeal filed by Lexington attorney Tom Miller.

“Because only the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission had the authority to dismiss me, Vance’s unilateral decision was a clear statutory and constitutional violation of my rights and not effective. Therefore, I remain employed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.”

Veitch was dismissed without cause in a Nov. 28 letter from Holly McCoy-Johnson, the appointing authority for the Public Protection Cabinet. In his original appeal, Veitch claims he could not be fired without cause and that his firing was also age discrimination.

Veitch, in the supplemental appeal, said he was not even aware that Vance was behind his dismissal until he read a published report Dec. 15, one day after a hearing officer issued his report into the Life At Ten incident at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs.

In that report, hearing officer Robert Layton concluded Veitch violated five rules of racing in connection with how he handled the Life At Ten incident and should be suspended for one year. That recommendation still must be considered by the full KHRC.

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