KY Panel Moves to Restrict Frivolous Appeals

Action aimed at cutting down on appeals by trainers and jockeys.

In an effort to cut down on abuses of the appeals process by trainers and jockeys, the rules committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved a draft of a rule on frivolous appeals.

Under the proposed rule, presented to the committee by KHRC co-counsel Tim West, an appeal will be deemed frivolous if:

--The applicant for an appeal fails, without good cause, to appear at a scheduled pre-hearing;

--The applicant appears at the hearing but fails, without good cause, to offer evidence to support the application for review; or

--The appeal is totally lacking in merit such that it appears to have been taken in bad faith.

West told the committee members that if an appeal is deemed frivolous, the commission can stiffen the penalties assessed the appellant and/or make the appellant pay legal and other costs associated with the appeal.

Last year, the KHRC doubled a suspension handed jockey Calvin Borel after it was deemed that the rider‘s appeal was frivolous.

Jeff Johnston, regional manager for The Jockeys’ Guild, acknowledged that there has been abuse of the appeal process and that his organization supports the rule proposed in Kentucky.

He suggested that Kentucky follow other states which have adopted penalties that provide for riders to be able to ride in selected races during the period of a suspension. He said such a provision would cut down on the number of frivolous appeals.

Rules committee member Ned Bonnie said the committee would consider revising the appeal regulation to accommodate Johnston's request.

In another matter relating to riders, the rules committee agreed to a May 15 implementation of new rules requiring safety vests for all licensed personnel – jockeys, exercise riders, and trainers – while on the racetrack.

Johnston explained that trying to implement the rule any sooner could pose problems due to lack of availability of vests that meet the standards mandated by the commission.

The rules committee also was briefed on the status of proposed changes in its regulations regarding search and seizure of premises that are licensed by the commission.

Last year, the staff of the Legislative Research Commission, which reviews proposed rules and regulations for regulatory bodies, questioned the constitutionality of KHRC’s licensing rules in which licensees provide consent to search their premises.

West explained that rather than have the consent to search and seizure a part of the licensing process, regulations could be adopted outlining the procedures under which search and seizure could take place when a violation or suspected violation of state laws on possession of medications, drugs, paraphernalia, object, or device has taken place.

West said his research indicates that such search and seizure regulations would apply to vehicles when they are on licensed property.