Jamgotchian Puts Claiming Rule to the Test

Penn National official said it is up to Kentucky regulators to enforce claiming rule.

A horse claimed recently by prominent owner Jerry Jamgotchian will be permitted to race at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, even though there are rules in Kentucky precluding such horses from being entered at a track other than the one where it was claimed.

The horse, a 3-year-old daughter of Arch named Rochitta, was claimed by trainer Eric Reed on behalf of Jamgotchian for $40,000 when the filly finished second in a May 21 race at Churchill Downs. A Kentucky rule states a claimed horse cannot race at any track other than the one at which it was claimed until the track takes entries for the final race card of the meet in which the claim took place. The Churchill Downs meet ends in early July.

Christopher McErlean, vice president for racing for Penn National Gaming, which operates the Pennsylvania track, said Rochitta was entered to run at Penn National on Monday, June 20. He said as far as Penn National racing officials are concerned, the entry was taken, as are entries from other trainers and owners, under a good faith assumption that the owner is in good standing in Kentucky and in compliance with the rules of Kentucky racing.

Under reciprocity agreements between states, McErlean said Pennsylvania regulators would honor any disciplinary actions taken in Kentucky against any owner or trainer, such as a suspension, but that enforcement of the claiming rule is up to Kentucky.

“He claimed the horse in Kentucky and therefore he is subject to the rules in the state of Kentucky,” McErlean said. “We accepted the entry under the premise that he is properly licensed and that he is compliance with rules and regulations in other states. The rule is a Kentucky rule and they have to enforce it. From our standpoint, there is no accountability on our side.”

“This decision to allow my horse, Rochitta, to race in Pennsylvania once again confirms that these claiming rules are unconstitutional and should be suspended immediately,” Jamgotchian said in a statement. “Maybe now, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and other racing commissions will understand that the owner actually owns the claimed horse and can race it anywhere, without restriction. This is a major victory for horse owners’ rights and will soon spread to every state in the U.S.”

Jamgotchian has threatened legal action against the KHRC if it attempts to enforce the claiming rule.

Two years ago, Jamgotchian successfully challenged a California rule that stated a claimed horse could not be entered in a race outside California until 60 days from the end of the meet in which the horse was claimed, with stakes races exempted.

Jamgotchian filed suit and the California Horse Racing Board later suspended, and amended, its rules regarding entry of claimed horses.