Attorney Hopes to Delay Serey License Hearing

New York regulators are expected to consider Jan. 28 whether trainer Juan Serey will have his license revoked, but his lawyer was pushing to delay the proceedings until final details of a lawsuit settlement involving Serey are resolved.

Potential action by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board comes just a week after officials ruled that the clock on a looming 90-day suspension Serey faces for a drug positive involving two horses would start only when he actively participates in training again. Serey has taken a break from racing since last spring.

The more serious battle Serey faces with the board could cost him far more than a 90-day suspension. The board is set to consider whether allegations raised against him in a lawsuit, which was brought by his brother, Mario, violate a state "financial responsibility" rule by which all license-holders must abide. Mario Serey alleges his brother owes him $479,000 he says was taken from his horsemen's account.

Charges raised in the legal tussle won in court last year in New Jersey by Mario Serey has raised questions whether Juan Serey should still be licensed in New York, board officials said.

Serey's lawyer, Karen Murphy, said the case has been settled, though final details between the two brothers are still being worked out. Murphy said she needs more time to get some final details of the settlement papers put together, and that she anticipates getting a letter from Mario Serey supporting his brother. She said the resolution between the two brothers "should obviate any need to move against Juan's license."

Murphy said she has no idea how the state's hearing officer will rule in the case against her client, but that she hopes to convince the board before the Jan. 28 meeting to put off her Serey's case until the next meeting.

"It's the board's concern that Juan owes this debt...but the case has been settled and the controversy has been resolved," Murphy said. "It should obviate any need to say Juan is financially irresponsible because he is not, and (the case) has been concluded in a way satisfactory to all the parties."

In the 90-day suspension matter, Serey, who had been one of the top trainers in New York, was penalized by the board following the discovery of ergonovine in two of his horses in December 1999. At the time of the race, Serey was out of the country.

Serey is still licensed by the state, though he has spent most of the past year working on a horse farm owned by Ernie Paragallo. Serey sought to have his suspension start now. But the state said he must first show he is actively participating in the business.

Murphy said the board's demands would be difficult for Serey. The board's order would, she said, force him to hook up with owners and horses, all at a time when the industry knows he is facing an immediate 90-day suspension once he becomes actively engaged in training again.