Houghton Lawsuit Seeks $10 Million in Damages

The lawsuit filed against Arlington Park by jockey Terry Houghton calls for no less than $10 million in punitive or exemplary damages plus attorney fees and court costs, Houghton’s attorney, Art Engelland, said May 30.

The suit, filed May 25 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., seeks recompense for loss of income and harm to Houghton’s reputation after the track refused to let him participate in its ongoing summer meeting due to a Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau investigation into suspicious wagering patterns on races Houghton rode in last year in Michigan and Florida.

The 39-year-old Houghton was one of 10 riders banned from riding at Tampa Bay Downs last December when the TRPB shared information on the investigation with track management. Arlington Park’s parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., made the decision to exclude Houghton from their racetracks after receiving the same information March 29.

Houghton in April appeared before a hearing officer appointed by the Illinois Racing Board to assert his belief that he should be permitted to ride at Arlington. With the matter under consideration, the jockey is now scheduled to go before the board again June 14.

The suit does not seek to have the ban lifted due to the ongoing appeal process with the IRB.

“I’ll tell you one thing, by the time all is said and done, this racetrack is going to think long and hard before they do anything to harm the little guy,” Engelland said. “It’s just ridiculous, the harm they’ve done to his career without a justified reason.”

The lawsuit makes seven counts against Arlington Park, including slander, defamation, violation of constitutional rights, and interference in the jockey’s contractual relationships with owners. Arlington officials have refrained from comment because the matter involves pending litigation.