The Office of the Inspector General in the Kentucky Transportation Department is assisting the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in its probe of Life At Ten’s participation in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I).
Though the commission staff, under direction of its director of security, is conducting the bulk of the investigation, the Transportation Department official was brought in to handle the role of the stewards in the Life At Ten matter, according to Lisa Underwood, executive director of the KHRC.
“The commission wanted an external authority to handle that aspect of the investigation in order to eliminate any appearance of impropriety on the part of the commission,” Underwood said in an e-mail message. “The director of security reports to the stewards, and it would not have been appropriate for him to be in charge of that portion of the investigation.”
Though more than two months have elapsed since the Life At Ten incident, Underwood said she could not provide a timetable for when the investigation will be completed and a report for the commission would be issued. The next commission meeting is scheduled for Feb. 9.
“It is our view that we would rather be thorough in the review and provide some thoughtful recommendations so that this situation does not happen in the future,” Underwood wrote.
Life At Ten, a mare owned by Candy DeBartolo and trained by Todd Pletcher, finished last in the Ladies' Classic as the second choice at odds of 7-2 in the Nov. 5 race at Churchill Downs. With jockey John Velazquez aboard, Life At Ten had no run when the field left the gate, and she was not persevered with throughout the 1 1/8-mile race.
Before the race, Velazquez told retired jockey Jerry Bailey, who was assisting with the ESPN coverage of the Breeders’ Cup, that the filly did not look right, but he apparently did not relay those concerns to the stewards or any KHRC veterinarians.
Following the race, John Veitch, chief steward for the KHRC, said the proper protocol is for a jockey or trainer who has concerns about a horse prior to the start of a race to report those issues to the stewards. He said neither Velazquez nor Pletcher contacted the stewards, veterinarians, or outriders, who are also involved in the reporting process.
“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission firmly believes its veterinarians and racing stewards acted properly in all instances regarding this race,” Veitch said in a statement shortly after the Breeders’ Cup.
The KHRC subsequently decided to launch a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Life At Ten and the Ladies’ Classic.