Life At Ten at the Breeders' Cup

Life At Ten at the Breeders' Cup

Skip Dickstein

Life At Ten Case Drawing to a Close

Three-day public hearing is scheduled at Kentucky Horse Racing Commission offices.

The Life At Ten saga will enter its final stage June 28 when a hearing begins into whether senior state steward John Veitch violated any Kentucky racing rules in his handling of the situation during last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

The public hearing, scheduled for June 28-30 at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission offices near Lexington, is a result of action by the racing commission in March in which the regulatory body voted there was probable cause to believe  jockey John Velazquez and Veitch were in violation of racing rules.

Owned by Cindy DeBartolo and trained by Todd Pletcher, Life At Ten finished last in the Ladies’ Classic as the 7-2 second choice in the betting. With Velazquez aboard, the filly had no run when the field left the gate and she was not persevered with during the race.

Before the race, Velazquez told retired jockey Jerry Bailey, who was assisting with the ESPN coverage of the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill, that the filly did not look right. He did not, however, relay those observations to the stewards or any KHRC veterinarians.

An ESPN producer brought it to the attention of stewards that Velazquez had concerns about Life At Ten, but the filly was permitted to run in the race.

There was no post-race drug testing of Life At Ten, and the following day Pletcher said the filly apparently had an allergic reaction to anti-bleeder medication she was administered prior to the race.

An intensive investigation into the Life At Ten case was conducted by the KHRC’s enforcement staff and an outside independent party that looked into the stewards' conduct. The report stemming from the investigation concluded there was no intentional violation of rules of racing.

It also found that a number of communications breakdowns—among veterinarians working at Churchill during the Breeders’ Cup, the stewards, Pletcher, and Velazquez—contributed to the controversy.

The regulations cited by the KHRC in its probable cause action against Velazquez involved riding out a horse until the end of a race unless there is a problem, and acting in the best interest of racing. He subsequently settled the complaint against him by agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine, half of which was paid to the Disabled Jockeys' Fund.

The regulations cited by the commission against Veitch deal with whether Life At Ten should have been scratched, the failure to conduct a post-race test, and whether there should have been an investigation into why the horse did not run to her normal form.

According to a KHRC spokesman, the commission plans to call 10 witnesses before hearing officer Robert Layton.

Attorneys Luke Morgan and Chapman Hopkins of the Lexington firm McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland will represent the commission as outside counsel. Veitch will be represented by Tom Miller and Mike Meuser of the Lexington firm Miller, Griffin & Marks.