WVRC Overturns Four-Year Ban of Trainer

Trainer Patty Burns, banned from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races since early 2008, has won her appeal of the ejection.

The West Virginia Racing Commission March 19 voted to accept a hearing officer's recommendation that Burns be reinstated. WVRC deputy attorney general Kelli Talbott told commissioners the hearing officer recommended that Burns "has been off long enough to pay for her wrongdoing."

Burns, according to court documents, was arrested in February 2007 for being a party in an altercation in the Charles Town barn area, and in July of that year, track officials found syringes in Burns' barn after an inspection. The board of stewards suspended Burns for 30 days, but in February 2008, Charles Town management ejected her.

Burns has been fighting the ejection for about four years.

Erich Zimny, vice president of racing operations at Charles Town, said appellate court options exist, but the company wouldn't comment further. He also noted that the overturn of an ejection "does not in any way entitle that person to stalls on our property."

In March 2010, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals refused to hear petitions by the WVRC and three individuals, one of whom is Burns, barred from Charles Town. Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns Charles Town, was successful in getting a circuit court order stopping the WVRC from holding hearings on the exclusions.

The other two petitioners, Dick and Janene Watson, have been excluded from Charles Town since 2005. But like Burns they now have the option to have the WVRC hear their appeal.

That became possible in November 2011 when the state Supreme Court in a 3-2 vote sided with the WVRC in its contention that such permit holders have the right to appeal ejections. The opinion stemmed from a legal case involving jockeys ejected from Charles Town for allegedly misrepresenting their riding weights.

Talbott said March 19 there are about five other ejected individuals with hearings scheduled for May. Four of them are involved in a recent Charles Town case in which management banned them for alleged involvement in using "program trainers."

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