Court Won't Hear Suspended Trainer's Appeal

A New York court has refused to hear an appeal by a suspended trainer.

In a case that has ramifications for Thoroughbred racing, New York’s highest court has refused to hear an appeal by a trainer suspended by state regulators for a pattern of alleged illegal equine drug violations involving horses at Monticello Raceway.

Timothy Case, a harness trainer, was seeking to get the Court of Appeals to hear his claims that flawed handling procedures made the state’s drug tests unreliable, and that the penalty handed down for past run-ins with racing regulators was too severe.

The decision by the court not to hear the case—thereby upholding a mid-level appeals court ruling earlier this year—effectively continues the power of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to impose stricter penalties for patterns of drug violations in harness or Thoroughbred racing.

The NYSRWB more than a year ago adopted a hearing officer’s findings that Case violated state rules involving the horse Famous Last Words in a May 2006 Monticello race. Tests showed the horse had a pre-race TCO2 level--"milkshake"--of at least 39 millimoles per liter. The board also said Case had a “history" of violating state racing rules dating back to 2000, and regulators declared Case ineligible to apply for a license with the state for five years.

As the legal case was maneuvering through the court system, the NYSRWB earlier this year also sought to impose new sanctions against Case for separate rule violations it alleged he engaged in while he was appealing the earlier ruling in court. Regulators accused Case of TCO2 violations involving R U Bartlett at Monticello in 2008 and Fox Valley Lovebug at Yonkers Raceway in 2007.

New York’s top racing regulator said his agency will move “promptly" to revoke Case’s license as a trainer.

“I’m pleased that the Court of Appeals saw fit to reject Timothy Case’s latest effort to avoid discipline,” NYSRWB chairman John Sabini said. “Given his history of equine drugging offenses, he has demonstrated that his participation in racing was not in the best interest of the sport.”

The high court didn’t consider the specific merits of Case’s appeal and offered no commentary on the matter. Instead, by declining to hear the case, it upheld an April ruling by a mid-level appeals court that unanimously rejected Case’s claims that the drug test results were not reliable “because of flawed procedures in the chain of custody and testing.’’

That court also said his challenge to the board’s penalty was "unavailing," and that he had an “ignominious history of drug violations."