CHRB to Examine Fermin's Del Mar Role

Board members to meet in closed session to discuss her appointment as track steward.

The California Horse Racing Board plans to meet in closed session prior to its general meeting July 23 to consider complaints and appeals that have been filed against the board challenging Ingrid Fermin's appointment as a steward at Del Mar this season.

Kirk Breed, the board's executive director, confirmed that the board will discuss the matter after several top trainers filed appeals against Fermin. She served as the CHRB's executive director for three years until her resignation in January 2008.

"They (the trainers) are appealing her ability to make an unbiased decision (where they are concerned)," Breed said. "We're (CHRB staff) recommending to the board that this issue be assigned to a deputy attorney general and that an OAL (office of administrative law) hearing be held."

Horse owner Jerry Jamgotchian first filed a complaint against the board over Fermin's appointment to the Del Mar post, which pays $26,000 to her as an independent contractor. Those now appealing Fermin's standing are trainers Jeff Mullins, Mike Mitchell, Doug O'Neill, Steve Knapp, Art Sherman, and Brian Koriner, as well as horse owner Sean Gerson, according to Jamgotchian.

They are asking that an associate steward be appointed to substitute for Fermin in jurisdiction over races in which they have entered horses during the first three days of the meet.

Breed said the board could either stay or reject the appeals, meaning Fermin would remain on the three-person steward panel, or accept them, in which case Fermin would be replaced. Regardless of what the board decides July 23, Fermin would act as a steward for the first two days of the Del Mar meet, he said.

Fermin, 67, served as a California racing steward since 1981 before her appointment as the CHRB's executive director.

Jamgotchian contends Fermin illegally gambled on a horse race while a steward and engaged in illegal activities, cover-ups, and the targeting of certain trainers for investigations during her time as executive director.

Frank Moore, who was the agency's chief investigator during Fermin's tenure and is now retired, has filed a declaration in support of the charges, according to Jamgotchian.