Hearing officer: Dutrow acts ‘corrupt even in the olden days of the wild west’
It may be a moot point, now that trainer Rick Dutrow has begun serving a 10-year suspension given him by New York racing officials, but an administrative hearing officer in Kentucky has recommended the state's Horse Racing Commission issue a final order affirming its 2011 ruling that the controversial horseman be denied a trainer's license.
Dutrow, 53, was ordered to appear before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's License Review Committee on April 13, 2011, after applying for his Kentucky trainer's license. The committee rejected his application, citing numerous reasons for its denial, including admissions by Dutrow during the hearing that he had falsified previous license applications, falsely identified horses for the purposes of workouts in other states, and ran horses in the names of other trainers and continued to bill owners while on suspension.
“Some of these acts would have been noteworthy as corrupt even in the olden days of the wild west, and cannot have any allowed place in any modern racing jurisdiction,” hearing officer Robert Layton wrote in a decision released Monday.
Dutrow appealed the racing commission's rejection of his license application, and a hearing was conducted on Sept. 17, 2012. Dutrow did not appear before the hearing officer and his attorney called no witnesses.
“Dutrow has failed to present any proof in support of his appeal for any of the multiple bases for his license denial,” Layton wrote in his 28 page ruling. “In fact, the proof is that Dutrow does not factually contest any of the bases, but asserts the Commission shouldn't be able to use those to deny his license.”
Dutrow's attorney, Adam Spease, said the Commission was wrong in denying the license because it relied on “information which it ignored for years as a pretextual reason to deny” the application.
One of the horses Dutrow admitted to the License Review Committee that he trained while under suspension and running in the name of Robert Frankel, the late Hall of Fame horseman, was Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.'s Saint Liam, winner of the 2005 Stephen Foster Handicap, a Grade 1 race at Churchill Downs. Another is Daniel Borislow, Sanford Goldfarb and partners' Wild Desert, who during the same 60-day suspension won Canada's most famous horse race, the Queen's Plate, as a Frankel entry while being trained by Dutrow.
In fact, Dutrow falsified the horse's identity to stable him at Aqueduct and violate an order from the New York Racing Association. He then attributed a workout at Monmouth Park to a horse he falsely identified as Wild Desert, while the real Wild Desert was training under an assumed name at Aqueduct.
In his appearance before the Kentucky License Review Committee, Dutrow “blithely justified his deceptive conduct as necessary and appropriate,” Layton wrote.
“I mean, I needed to get (Wild Desert) to Aqueduct to get the horse right,” Dutrow told the committee. “That's where my help is. That's where we do our work.
“'But if I didn't bring (Wild Desert) into Aqueduct, I couldn't – I couldn't get the horse right anywhere else by Aqueduct racetrack. That's where my – my blacksmith works. That's where my vet works. That's where I work.”
Layton wrote that these incidents were “among the more potentially destructive to the honesty and reputation of the industry, including the stunning admissions by Dutrow that he not only continued to train Wild Desert while under suspension, but that he fraudulently had a fake workout for Wild Desert entered during that time.”
The hearing officer also noted that Dutrow failed to show any remorse when his license application was rejected in 2011.
“Upon hearing the Committee's decision to deny his license application,” Layton noted, “Dutrow stated that, if he had known it would be denied, he would have taken further efforts to hide his training by entering his current horses in another trainer's name.”
Dutrow was suspended 10 years by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board in October 2011 in recognition of his lengthy list of rules violations – 64 in total – but it was not until recently that the ban took effect while attorneys for the trainer mounted legal challenges that ultimately failed.
Click here to read the hearing officer's findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended order to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.