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Dutrow License Revoked

Posted by on October 13, 2011


Rick Dutrow, 52, trainer of 2009 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown had his training license revoked for ten years by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. In determining that Dutrow was a detriment to racing, the Board went far beyond the initial investigation initially undertaken last November.

The investigation into Dutrow’s behavior began last November when an investigator for the NYS Racing and Wagering Board found hypodermic needles containing zylazine, a painkiller, in Dutrow’s desk drawer. Possession of needles is strictly forbidden by regulation much less ones containing drugs. In addition, later that month, a horse trained by Dutrow, Fastus Cactus, was found to have butorphanol in his system after a post race toxicology screen.

Under ordinary circumstances, a trainer would be suspended for a period of time for these incidents, usually 90 days. Rick Dutrow’s situation is vastly different. According to the report of Clemente J. Parente, hearing examiner, who conducted a hearing over three days regarding this matter, Dutrow has been suspended for more than 10 days on three separate occasions with “numerous other violations in Florida . . . Furthermore, his New York State racing application history report and RCI comprehensive ruling report reveals a consistent inability to abide by regulatory rules including a lack of truthfulness in statements to regulators .” Additionally in the Board’s decision Chairman John Sabini cites an accumulation of 64 violations of racing rules throughout his career in determining that revocation for ten years was appropriate.

Board Member, Daniel Hogan stated, “It seems Mr. Dutrow loved horses, but he loved winning even more, and has broke our rules to win.” Therein lies the rub. Horse racing has maintained a negative reputation for many years as a den of unsavory characters both in and out of the industry. In order to eliminate that perception, action against perpetual violators must be taken to prove to those participating within the industry and outside the industry that integrity exists.

What Dutrow is being punished for is not merely the isolated incidents of two drug findings in November, 2010, but rather for a lifetime of thumbing one’s nose at the rules and integrity of a sport where people’s money is invested, trust is placed and a fair playing field is sought for the owners as well as the bettors. It is time that the racing and wagering boards take a stand against people violating this trust; and New York has done that.

From a legal perspective, there may be issues that are appealable. Did the punishment of a 10 year ban and $50,000 fine exceed the charges before the Board? Does the Board have the power to look beyond the initial charges to the totality of the person being investigated? How many chances does one person get? I would argue 64 over 20 years is more than sufficient. Those and many more will be the issues that the Courts will hear while this matter works it’s way to a final resolution.
From this owner and fan’s perspective; it is great when the legislative arm of the industry takes a stand against someone to protect the interests and integrity of racing. Kudos to Chairman Sabini, and the Board for this determination. As Mr. Sabini states “Let this be a lesson to other people in the business.” While there is reason and rationale for everything; sometimes too many chances is just that.

Todd Engel
[email protected]

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