Ahmed Zayat

Ahmed Zayat

Anne M. Eberhardt

Zayat Cleared by Kentucky Commission

Kentucky and California say there is no reason to suspend license.

Prominent owner Ahmed Zayat has been cleared by the Kentucky Racing Commission after the regulatory body looked into his connection to two convicted gamblers and whether it violated terms of his ownership license.

Lisa Underwood, KHRC executive director, said an investigation was conducted into the connection between Zayat, whose Zayat Stables races probable Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) favorite Eskendreya, and Jeffrey and Michael Jelinsky.

In documents filed in connection with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition by Zayat Stables, the Jelinsky brothers are listed as owing $605,000 to Zayat. Zayat said the money is owed him for loans he made to the brothers.

Michael and Jeffrey Jelinsky are serving prison sentences of 15 months and 21 months, respectively, after pleading guilty to illegal bookmaking in 2009. 

"We made some inquiries and after doing our due diligence we determined there was nothing that would cause us to suspend his license," Underwood said.

Along with California, Kentucky is the second state to determine that Zayat’s loans to the Jelinksy brothers, first reported by the New York Times, does not jeopardize his owner’s license. Like most states, Kentucky and California have regulations precluding licensees from association with illegal or convicted bookmakers.

Zayat races primarily in New York, which is still reviewing the owner’s relationship with Michael and Jeffrey Jelinsky and whether it affects his license.

The loans to the Jelinsky brothers were made in 2007 and early 2008. The brothers were convicted in 2009.