Randy Funkhouser

Randy Funkhouser

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Funkhouser Still Has Chance to Race Horses in 'Classics'

Randy Funkhouser, who was suspended from racing at Charles Town Races and Slots last week, still has a chance to enter his horses in the Oct. 20 West Virginia Breeders' Cup Classic during a hearing Oct. 9.

At an Oct. 9 hearing in Kanawha County, W.V., Circuit Court, Judge Charles King ruled that Randy Funkhouser, president of the Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, would be allowed to enter his horses in the Oct. 20 West Virginia Breeders' Cup Classic pending the results of an independent arbiter's hearing.

Last week, Funkhouser was accused of improperly influencing officials to get a rival horse scratched from the July 4 Charles Town Dash Invitational at Charles Town Races and Slots, after which he was indefinitely suspended from the track. The decision as to whether Funkhouser acted in violation of any rules will be made as mutually agreed upon at a hearing scheduled for Oct. 15.

Entries for the eight-race, $1.45-million program for West Virginia-breds will be taken Oct. 17.

"The decision will be binding upon both parties, and there will be no appeal from that decision," said Funkhouser's lawyer, David Hammer of Martinburg, W.V.

Hammer filed a motion last week in Kanawha County Circuit Court seeking a temporary restraining order to keep Funkhouser's occupational permit in place.

Funkhouser's suspension came about after he asked the West Virginia Racing Commission to remove the horse Forest Park from the Charles Town Dash. The gelding's owner, Dan Ryan, asked the commission to look into Funkhouser's role in the scratch, alleging it was done for personal benefit.

Funkhouser sent the commission a letter saying Forest Park was ineligible for the Charles Town Dash since he was on a list injured and sick horses at another track the week before. Funkhouser's horse, Confucius Say, won the race.

Hammer said he doesn’t understand the commission's claims that they didn't know Funkhouser had a horse entered in the race when they made the decision to scratch Forest Park.

"You had to have a horse in the race to even have a standing to bring a complaint," Hammer said. "Also, (Confucius Say) is easily one of the most famous horses at Charles Town. The nomination sheet was already published and showed (Funkhouser) as the owner of the horse in that race."

Furthermore, Hammer noted the commission is still standing by their original decision to scratch Forest Park and that he was, in fact, unfit to race.

Funkhouser sent the letter in response to complaints from other horse owners about Forest Park's eligibility, Hammer said. As an officer of the association, the lawyer said, Funkhouser had a duty to report the violation.

Ryan's lawyer, Glenn Bushel of Baltimore, Md., claimed that Forest Park was, in fact eligible for the July 4 stakes contest.

"In every racing jurisdiction in the United States and in West Virginia until July 3, that horse was eligible," said Bushel. "The horse was on the vet's list at Delaware Park and off the list at the end of July 3, so he was eligible to race as of July 4. It's a three day rule at Delaware."

Bushel added that during an initial telephone hearing July 3, a Charles Town steward had spoken with a steward at Delaware Park who confirmed the date Forest Park had been placed on the vet's list.

A call made to Charles Town steward Danny Wright was not returned.

Bushel said the letter written to the commission stating the ineligibility of Forest Park was written expressly on behalf of the HBPA and all horsemen participating in racing at Charles Town.

"There was nothing about Funkhouser or his racing stable O'Sullivan Farms anywhere (in the letter)," said Bushel. "This letter was never authorized by the HBPA.