A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of owner Michael Gill and trainer Anthony Adamo against the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission concerning their ejection from Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in February 2010.
The suit also deals with the subsequent suspension of Adamo in July without a hearing, said attorney Alan Pincus, who confirmed Nov. 21 the suit had been served Nov. 16. Among the issues is alleged violation of due process.
The PHRC is currently reviewing the cases and could take action in December. PHRC offices were closed Nov. 21, a Sunday.
Earlier this year, 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 Adamo also was ejected for the same reasons, but the ejection was rescinded before his July suspension.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 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, said he would quit the Thoroughbred industry in part because of the “arrogance of racetrack owners.” From late winter to early spring, he began dispersing his racing stock.
“I dealt with it at Delaware Park—the agenda is always the same,” Gill told The Blood-Horse after his ejection. “The horsemen, if they say anything, are (kicked) out. You have to understand how hard it is to break in there. Penn National has an agenda, the jockeys have an agenda, and I happen to be it.”
As the Penn National case continued to unfold, there were personnel changes at the PHRC. Acting executive secretary Michael Dillon resigned in early May.
Since Dillon has been in office, there has been an ongoing investigation into racing operations at Penn National. It remains in the hands of a Dauphin County grand jury; more subpoenas were served in early November.
Adamo, after leaving Penn National, returned to Canada, where he purchased a few horses and raced at Fort Erie Racetrack & Slots in the summer. In July he was suspended again by the PHRC for failing to show up in Harrisburg at its request, and subsequently, stewards at Fort Erie suspended him.
Adamo did return to Pennsylvania to meet with the PHRC so his license was reinstated. He is training again in Canada. At the time of the February ejection, Adamo had 140 horses in his care; when he resurfaced at Fort Erie, he had two horses.
“The last several years have been a horror show (in Pennsylvania),” said one individual close to the situation.