A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit filed against the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission by owner Michael Gill and trainer Anthony Adamo to proceed.
The Patriot News of Harrisburg, Pa., reported March 15 that United States Middle District Judge Sylvia Rambo declined to dismiss the suit. Gill and Adamo filed the lawsuit last year, claiming their constitutional rights were violated when they weren’t given hearings into their eviction from Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
The racing commission, not Penn National, banned the pair in February 2010 after jockeys threatened to boycott races in which they had horses because of safety reasons. Allegations the horses were unfit to race were never proven; the situation led to a grand jury investigation that continues.
Gill was ejected from Penn National by the PHRC to “protect the orderly conduct of racing,” but no safety-related charges were levied against Gill. Adamo also was ejected for the same reasons, but the ejection was rescinded before his July 2010 suspension.
The PHRC at the time of the ejections said it had received “multiple reports” that the presence of Gill and Adamo caused disruptions at Penn National, located near Harrisburg. The commission cited letters received from Penn National management, jockeys, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, but never documented exactly why the men were kicked out of Penn National.
The situation exploded in late January 2010 when jockeys refused to ride Gill’s horses in races at Penn National. They did, however, continue riding his horses at Parx Racing, another Pennsylvania track; Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia; and Laurel Park in Maryland.
Regulators took no action against the jockeys who took off Gill horses saying they were lame, but then rode Gill’s horses at other tracks.
Gill, an Eclipse Award winning owner, told The Blood-Horse he would quit the Thoroughbred industry in part because of the “arrogance of racetrack owners.” From late winter to early spring 2010, he began dispersing his racing stock.
Gill, who had 49 stalls at Penn National, said he got the stalls in 2009 by agreeing to give an agent’s jockeys “first call” on his horses. Gill said when he became dissatisfied with the rides, he made changes. Six weeks later, the jockeys refused to ride his horses or in races in which he had horses.
The grand jury investigation began soon after. According to sources, other individuals will be called in to testify in the case within the next month.