John Veitch, the Hall of Fame trainer and former chief steward for Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky, has won another round in his lengthy court battle with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission over the convoluted Life At Ten case.
The case began with the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, in which grade I winner Life At Ten was allowed to compete even though jockey John Velazquez, in a nationally televised interview, raised concerns about how she was warming up before the race. Life At Ten, who was not persevered with during the race and finished last as the prohibitive favorite, was not selected for post-race testing.
The commission initially suspended Veitch for a year, alleging he violated five administrative regulations in his handling of the situation. Veitch, who later was fired from his position, was the only one disciplined.
Veitch and his attorney, Tom Miller, appealed the suspension and Veitch was eventually cleared of violating two of the five initial administrative regulations. The case was ordered back to the KHRC to reconsider the initial suspension period, at which time the regulatory body adopted a hearing officer's recommendation that Veitch be suspended for the nine months he had already served.
Following another motion from Veitch, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate reversed the final order on the nine-month suspension and again ordered the KHRC to apportion the penalty to each of the three regulatory violations, according to court documents. The KHRC again retained the nine-month penalty, apportioning three months to each of the violations.
That action was again appealed by Veitch, stating the KHRC did not consider similar circumstances and did not explain justification for the penalty allocation.
In his latest ruling, Wingate again reversed the nine-month suspension and sent the case back to the commission "for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
In his analysis of the case, Wingate wrote: "After five years of litigation, the KHRC owes Veitch a proper explanation of the penalty imposed against him for violating the KHRC administrative regulations. This explanation should be a comprehensive writing, detailed with supporting evidence from the administrative record taking into consideration any similar circumstances against which Veitch's conduct can be judged.
"If no similar circumstances exist, it is the duty of the KHRC to show the propriety of the penalty imposed."