Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. is expected to learn the fate of his career next week when regulators in New York rule whether his alleged use of drugs in racehorses is serious enough to lead them to permanently revoke his license in the state.
The long-awaited decision is likely Oct. 12 at a meeting of the state Racing and Wagering Board.
“It is expected that the matter of Mr. Dutrow will come before the board at its October 12 meeting," confirmed agency spokesman Lee Park. He declined further comment.
After months of lawyers on both sides trading legal papers, the board’s hearing officer in the case, Clemente Parente, is set to present his findings – and disciplinary recommendations – to racing regulators during the meeting. The board can adopt, reject, or even strengthen any recommendations for punishment Parente might make.
Dutrow, whose suspension has been on hold during the case’s proceedings, appeared as the last witness before Parente during a three-day hearing back in June at the racing board’s headquarters in Schenectady, N. Y. Dutrow, with a long history of run-ins with racing regulators in New York, denied any wrongdoing or knowledge about how a drug made it into the urine sample of one of his horses or how syringes were found in one of his barns.
“I wouldn’t do something improper with any of my horses,’’ Dutrow said back in June. “I’ve done really good in the game … and I wouldn’t risk that for anything."
State officials originally believed the case would be ruled on back in August.
Dutrow was originally slapped with a 90-day suspension after officials found the painkiller butorphanol in a urine sample from Fastus Cactus, who finished last Nov. 20 in the third race at Aqueduct, and a subsequent discovery of hypodermic needles in a Dutrow barn.
Dutrow’s legal team has claimed the trainer’s due process was violated by the board, which moved to revoke Dutrow’s license after he appealed the original suspension. Michael Koenig, Dutrow’s lawyer, also has claimed there was at least “an appearance of impropriety" between racing board chairman John Sabini, who sits on the board of the Racing Commissioners International, and Ed Martin, the president of RCI. Martin first called on Sabini to permanently yank Dutrow’s license to operate in New York; Martin claimed Dutrow has had 69 different rule infractions since 1979.
Koenig and Dutrow have been unavailable for comment this week. Dutrow could appeal any decision by the racing board to the state Supreme Court.
The June hearing featured character witnesses, including Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr., defending Dutrow, and lawyers for the state raising the trainer’s past run-ins with regulators, including a 2005 case in which he trained horses while on suspension.
The racing board has gone so far as to characterize Dutrow in the current case as a “person whose conduct at racetracks in New York state and elsewhere has been improper, obnoxious, unbecoming, and detrimental to the best interests of racing.”
Dutrow has claimed he was not in the state when Factus Cactus had a positive post-race urine sample containing butorphanol.