Life At Ten Fun Facts: Final Report Live Blog

by | 03.10.2011 | 9:42am

UPDATE: John Velazquez and John Veitch were each charged with multiple violations for their hand in the Life At Ten controversy during last year's Breeders' Cup by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Click here for a summary of the report.

More to come…

When I learned that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was going to issue its long awaited reported on the Life At Ten incident at the 2010 Breeders' Cup, I sent an email to the KHRC, encouraging them to offer an audio webcast of their March 10 meeting. The California Horse Racing Board does this routinely, giving people all around the country an opportunity to listen in as major issues are discussed and debated, as well as the ongoing “Gong Show” involving some of the state's more entertaining racing participants who like to hear the sound of their own voice during public comment periods.

Well, I didn't get a response to that suggestion. No surprise there. The KHRC is not as transparent or, frankly, as competent as some other state racing commissions.

Instead of interested parties having a chance to listen to the discussions and questions about the report (at least when the KHRC is not locked behind closed doors in Executive Session), I'll do my best to satisfy their curiosity by live blogging this afternoon's meeting

If you can't attend the meeting (I anticipate standing room only at the U.S. Dressage Federation builiding in the Kentucky Horse Park), please check back shortly after 1:30 p.m. and feel free to interact with Ray Paulick and Brad Cummings in the live blog below. If there is the opportunity to pose questions to the commission, we may even ask one of yours!

  • Brad Cummings

    Thanks to everyone for such a lively discussion.

  • Ray/Brad-
    You did such a superb job covering KY ….how about going to Big East Tourney to get the 3 officials take on what went wrong in last 4.7 seconds of St.John’s/Rutgers game yesterday.

  • Gallop

    Skimming the report, it at least looked professional and lawyerly and appears to have been taken seriously.(IMHO)
    JV didn’t present the horse, everyone else stuck their heads in the sand hoping everything would be fine.
    A head should roll though for stewards not doing their proper duty. Hiding behind rules and regs is shameful. Someone should step up and resign.

  • Mary2

    THANKS you two!! To get the flavor of the day from you two as it went on adds a dimension to this whole disappointing situation we couldn’t have had anywhere else. You guys are doing good work for racing.

  • Scratchedatthegate

    If J.D. Bailey would not have said anything on T.V. NOBODY else would have either! But as soon as he did….the horse should have been scratched! This is NOT J.D. Bailey’s job! It IS the track vet & the stewards job! Johnny V. rides regularly for Pletcher. He has to trust the trainer & the track vets that the horse is O.K. and this is where the responsibility lies.

  • Erin

    Speaking of the track vet…free pass for him/her??

  • hip703

    What about Pletcher?

  • Ray Paulick

    The only individuals cited in the motion made were jockey John Velazquez and chief KHRC steward John Veitch. Here is the press release from the KHRC:

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – (March 10, 2011) – The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) today released the findings of the investigation into the performance of the mare Life At Ten during the Ladies’ Classic at the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 5, 2010. Life At Ten was the second betting favorite but ran poorly and was never in contact with the field, finishing last.
    The intent of the lengthy and detailed investigation was to determine if there was “probable cause” to support charging any individual with a violation of Kentucky horse racing statutes or regulations.
    The report, reviewed and adopted by the Commission, indicates no evidence of intentional wrongdoing or nefarious or fraudulent activity. According to the report, “in some instances there was not a specific rules violation but, rather, a failure of common sense to prevail.” The report also reveals a systematic breakdown in communications among the various people either working directly for Life At Ten and her connections or working for the KHRC and the Breeders’ Cup.
    The Commission, in reviewing and adopting the report, found probable cause that Life At Ten’s jockey, John Velazquez, violated:
    · 810 KAR 1:009 Section 10
    · 810 KAR 1:016 Section 14
    · 810 KAR 1:025 Section 14 (1) (Q)
    And that Chief Steward John Veitch violated:
    · 810 KAR 1:004 Section 4 (1)
    · 810 KAR 1:004 Section 4 (8)
    · 810 KAR 1:012 Section 9 (1)
    · 810 KAR 1:016 Section 14
    · 810 KAR 1:018 Section 11

    Both are entitled to a hearing before a hearing officer who will make recommendations to the full Commission on findings of facts, whether there was, indeed, a violation, and recommended penalties. That recommendation will go to the full Commission which could accept, reject or modify the hearing officer’s recommendation.
    The Commission did note that a number of recommendations regarding policy, procedure and protocol will receive careful attention in order to prevent such an incident from occurring in the future. The report further points out that one regulation that may have had a positive influence on this incident was in the review process prior to the Breeders’ Cup, but did not take effect until February 2011.
    KHRC Director of Enforcement Patrick Adams led the investigation. Additionally, the Commission requested that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Inspector General analyze the racing stewards’ activities as an outside, independent party in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. In all, 90 people were interviewed either by the KHRC enforcement staff or the Office of Inspector General.
    A complete copy of the investigation’s final report to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which includes findings and recommendations can be found online and downloaded at http://www.khrc.ky.gov

  • Anthony Warrender

    Quite predictably, the report fails even to acknowledge the elephant in the room – the long-established bias of racetracks (in this case the B.Cup), stewards, vets, etc against scratching horses because of the financial consequences. As with most things of this nature… Follow The Money! Veitch’s comment, “if we do that we might as well scratch the horse”, says it all……..

  • Mary2

    Just finished reading the Inspector General’s report. It’s almost like reading about the Challenger disaster. A cascade of misunderstandings about facts and about who is supposed to do what and who is in charge of this. Looks pretty thorough altho I’m sure more data could be gathered. Haven’t read the recommendations yet. Surprised trainer was not called out for at least not following protocol. I think stewards, vets, jockeys, trainers should have a protocol checklist at hand. A flow chart maybe. Here’s what to do if your horse “isn’t right.” In writing. They’ve made it clear that they cannot be trusted to do what is right and make the hard calls when the situation is full of tension and money.

  • Rachel

    The majority of responsibility is the trainer..the guy who lives with the horse 24/7.
    Others might have had an inkling, but to blame Velasquez over Pletcher is ridiculous.
    I don’t think there was anything intentional or malicious…but the trainer knew something wasn’t quite right and the jockey had to depend on HIM for the facts…bad, bad decision to put the blame on the jock…

  • William

    hip703: Nothing for the trainer. They found probable cause that Velazquez violated three regs and Veitch violated five.

    Veitch and Velazquez get a hearing before any action will be taken.

  • Mary2

    810 KAR 1:009 Section 10. Duty to Fulfill Engagements. Every rider shall fulfill his duly scheduled riding engagements, unless excused by the stewards due to circumstances under which a jockey could not reasonably be expected to be physically present at the required time, A rider shall not be required to ride a horse he believes to be unsound, nor over a racing strip he believes to be unsafe, but if the stewards find a rider’s refusal to fulfill a riding engagement is based on a personal belief unwarranted by the facts and circumstances, the rider may be subject to disciplinary action.
    810 KAR 1.016 Section 14. Horses to be Ridden Out. Every horse in every race shall be ridden so as to win or finish as near as possible to first and demonstrate the best and fastest performance of which it is capable at the time. A horse shall not be eased up without adequate cause, even if it has no apparent chance to earn a portion of the purse money. A jockey who unnecessarily causes a horse to shorten stride may be penalized at the discretion of the stewards. Stewards shall take cognizance of any marked reversal of form of a horse and shall conduct inquiries of the licensed owner, licensed trainer, and all other persons connected with the horse. If the stewards find that the horse was deliberately restrained or impeded in any way or by any means so as not to win or finish as near as possible to first, any person found to have contributed to that circumstance may be penalized at the discretion of the stewards.
    810 KAR 1:025 Section 14. License Denial, Revocation, or Suspension. (1) The commission, executive director, chief racing steward, or director of licensing may deny a license application, and the commission or chief state steward may suspend or revoke a license, or otherwise penalize in accordance with KRS 230.320(1) a licensee, or other person participating in horse racing, for any of the following reasons: (q) The licensee or applicant has engaged in conduct that is against the best interest of horse racing, or compromises the integrity of operations at a track, training facility, or satellite facility;

  • Noelle

    One statement jumped out at me, when Dr. Reed said: “… and then we gave her the Lasix and we knocked her electrolyte count out…”

    How can it be good for any horse, sick or well, to have their electrolyte count “knocked out” right before the tremendous physical effort of racing?

    The deliberate, Lasix-induced, pre-race dehydration of horses makes no sense. Lasix should be banned here as is already is everywhere else.

  • Mary2

    Actually, the “Summary and Recommendations” plus Appendix A does cite regs that were possibly not adhered to by the trainer and the vets.
    Trainer – 810 KAR 1:008 Section 3(4) and (9) plus 810 KAR 1:018 Section 15(1) and (5)
    Vets – 810 KAR 1:024 Section 4

  • Terri Z

    A new nickname for Pletcher is Teflon Todd. It’s a travesty that he, as the trainer, was not charged with any infractions. Any why was he not penalized for the horse not having blood drawn directly after the race?
    Johnny V is the fall guy and he probably won’t say a thing in this matter. He reported problems with the horse to Jerry Bailey rather than to track officals to keep his job as Teflon Todd’s main rider.
    And what about Quality Road? He wasn’t right before the BC Classic and was pulled up by Johnny V. Was QR being overmedicated in the BC and the Whitney; Johnny V stated that QR kept pulling to the side and didn’t appear to be himself in the Whitney.
    Rick Dutrow is the black sheep in NY Racing stables and Teflon Todd gets away with it all. Kind of sad. Especially since Dutrow is such a talented trainer.

  • Kris S

    Ouch for Johnny V. The way I’m reading it, he’s getting sent up the flagpole while Pletcher gets a free pass.

    They’re citing Johnny V for not fulfilling his riding engagement, for not riding her to her best possible finish, and for conduct against the best interest of horse racing.

    I’m not certain but it appears two of the steward’s violations are for not disciplining Johnny V for the above alleged infractions.

  • Equine Vet

    Ray (and Brad) thanks for keeping the pressure on in this. It was difficult to watch. Ultimately, muscle leakage enzymes don’t lie.

  • RUFingKidding

    Ok, this is my last post on this issue(I sorta promise)

    For all you TP haters: When a horse leaves the paddock, it is out of his hands. Even in the paddock, a trainer CAN NOT scratch a horse. Its ok to be a hater, but at least know the procedure.

    Johnny Velasquez is a level headed, good rider and person. While I’m a big fan, I have wondered why he didn’t go to the vet.
    Once the stewarts are alerted to an issue, they have an obligation to investigate it to some degree.
    It’s all well and good to shout “hang the basta..s” , and I personally think the KHRC did a horrible job in handeling this. But at the end of the day one statement in the report sums it up:
    ” indicates no evidence of intentional wrongdoing or nefarious or fraudulent activity. According to the report, in some instances there was not a specific rules violation but, rather, a failure of common sense to prevail. The report also reveals a systematic breakdown in communications”

  • Little Big

    I read what ALL those veterinaries said about not seeing anything wrong with LAT. I just can’t understand why my 6 year old grandson ask me what was wrong with that horsee. I think about 5 million on TV saw something. It’s a joke

  • Little Big

    #9 Anthony you summed the whole thing up. It’s about the give back of the money and that NBC can’t wait an extra 5 minutes because they got to get back to a football game half time report. They KILLED Barbaro because they wanted the 30 million. They are ALL a bunch of THIEVES and MURDERERS.

  • Upstart

    Nothing for Pletcher?? The ultimate insurer?? What a joke.

  • Hmmm. Perhaps we are not supposed to understand what the report means?

    There seem to be two possible interpretations of the citations:

    1) as mentioned here, to make Velazquez the fall guy, or

    2) To make this look serious, let him explain the reasons a sane jockey does not beat a sick or ailing horse, and then sensibly to find him not at fault.

    If the latter, then the steward would be off the hook on those questions about punishing the jockey.

    And frankly, if they punish the jock for not jumping off the mare when the vet didn’t scratch her at the gate, then the KHRC people and investigators have been eating too much lead paint.

    Is it too much to hope for sanity to prevail?

    Frank.

  • Glimmerglass

    The report DOES cite as poster #15 “Mary2” stated that the Trained (Todd Pletcher) may be in violation of two regulations. Just as it calls out the Steward and Jockey too for potential violations.

    As for #20 “Little Big” are you insane? NBC’s broadcast schedule had zero connection whatsoever to Barbaro being injured. Please keep your mindless statements to yourself or else further prove you’re an absolute fool.

  • sr

    O’Niell just got fined for ENTERING a horse that was unfit to run. While Plechter knowingly RAN a horse that was unfit to run. He KNEW,even before reporters told him there was a problem at which point it was confirmed in his head that LAT was not right. At every point along the way, as trainer, this is his responsibility. Poor johnny V. if Mo gets beat sat. the s**t will really fly.

  • Upstart

    “may be in violation” is something quite different than “violated”. This was nothing but a cop out.

  • voice of reason

    Because LAT was not sent to the test barn, urine was not collected. Therefore, no analysis was performed to detect substances that can only be detected in the urine.

    hahahaha. I repeat. hahahahaha.

  • Aunt Bea

    And my family wonders why I don’t remind them to watch the big races anymore…

  • This report is a Joke,

    Life At Ten should have been scratched by somebody, Somebody has to be held accountable,

    He went off at 7/2, which means a lot of money was bet on him in all of the assorted pools,

    and the Race Track, Churchill Downs failed to protect the betting public,
    from a known Lame/Sick horse. they just don’t care, they only want the betting public’s money,
    if they scratched this horse, lots of money would be removed from the POOLS.

    For a Race Track, they never want that, especially on BC day, the day of the biggest pools,
    the Stewards know this,

    cause they let this “Sick/Drugged” who couldn’t run,
    go into the starting gate.

    And The Betting Public was screwed over by Churchill Downs and Breeders Cup, cause CD/BC, they don’t think bettors matter, and they think they did no wrong, to this day,

    And The Betting Public was screwed over by Churchill Downs and Breeders Cup, cause CD/BC, they don’t think bettors matter, and they think they did no wrong, to this day,

    And The Betting Public was screwed over by Churchill Downs and Breeders Cup, cause CD/BC, they don’t think bettors matter, and they think they did no wrong, to this day,

    And The Betting Public was screwed over by Churchill Downs and Breeders Cup, cause CD/BC, they don’t think bettors matter, and they think they did no wrong, to this day,

    And The Betting Public was screwed over by Churchill Downs and Breeders Cup, cause CD/BC, they don’t think bettors matter, and they think they did no wrong, to this day,

    And The Betting Public was screwed over by Churchill Downs and Breeders Cup, cause CD/BC, they don’t think bettors matter, and they think they did no wrong, to this day,

  • thomasMc

    This is a witch hunt. These are live animals they don’t act the same all the time.The filly did not show anyone enough to have her scratched.In hindsight it would have been the proper thing but because a horse is quieter than usual or more nervous then usual is not a reason to scratch them as most of the time they run to form. What purpose would anyone have to run bad in the breeders cup. Again, they are living beings not machines and as hard as we try we can’t always understand what is going on with them and how they will run. It’s a gamble.

  • bookiebuster1

    Let me set the record straight they wont go after Pletcher cause then perhaps he will roll over on the vets mistake? *laughing* Folks i always suspected someone goofed up on the amount of lasix LAT was given causing her to tie up before the race from dehydration. BTW why nothing on Quality Road who ran just as bad with the same EXACT trainer/vet combo?

    This is a joke and the ultimate responsibility for running a fit, sound horse is the TRAINERS full stop. Wait perhaps they have changed the licensing requirements and obligations since i held one. The amount of drugs they use sure are stronger and more prevalent with the masking agents available these days. Cobra Venon is so 2000.

  • sr

    ThomasMc,
    Anyone who actually spends time with their horses knows when they are not right as opposed to just acting different.nervous, calm, tired or relaxed ect. And It Is your responsibility to know the difference. That knowledge makes all the difference. Maybe TP needs to pay attention. Trust me you CAN tell.

  • thomasMc

    sr, I don’t know how much time TP spends with his horses but i know he has excellent assistents and trusts them when he has to. Having spent 50 years with horses,Trust Me, you don’t always know.

  • Rolly Hoyt

    Calvin Borel is currently appealing a suspension for “failure to persevere” at Oaklawn Park. He tried to go through a hole, it closed up and he appears to become frustrated and relaxed for the final sixteenth. His horse lost a photo for part of the purse. If his appeal is unsuccessful he will be suspended for three to five days. No one should question Borel’s skill or heart just because of one incident where he was unsuccessful and broke a rule in his frustration. The punishment would appear to fit the crime.
    John Velazquez is in a similar situation. He honestly told a fellow professional horseperson what he was thinking about Life at Ten during that warm-up. We can only imagine the struggle in his head as he tried to get the filly to perk up while watching the clock tick down to a multi-million dollar race. He was honest to Bailey, and waited and hoped for some relief, but it didn’t come in time. His actions from there were understandable, but nonetheless against the rules.
    Jockeys have to make these split-second decisions constantly in their job. Sometimes they make the wrong decision. Velazquez made a poor decision. He should get a short suspension, similar to the one Borel has hanging over his head in Arkansas or the punishment Borel and Javier Castellano each received for their fight earlier that night. He’s not some fall-guy, and a short suspension won’t be the end of the world for him.

  • Tryandkeepup

    Why did trainer Ward not vote for Veitch? CYA for himself when he runs his own horses here in KY. Report has been completed for along time, but commission is a best friend good old boy coverup. Poor job by all on commission for not having Pletcher in on charges. He is the ultimate keeper of the horse.

  • ratherrapid

    the bottom line for me is that they, and in particular, velasquez, protected the horse. that their actions in this unusual situation may have been out of compliance with various minor regs seems close to being ludicrous, although, once you are determined to run afoul of the law, i guess the full weight bears down. let’s hope the hearing officer makes the correct decision. this seems less capital offense to me than expensive side show.

  • GET BU$Y & FOLLOW THAT MONY TRAIL…NOW!!!…ty…

  • FORE #18…A VERY FEW HEAR HAD TO BOOT RAY N THE A$$ END TO KEEP IT UP!!!…LESS WE FOREGET…ty…

  • voice of reason

    “Therefore, no analysis was performed to detect substances that can only be detected in the urine.” hahahahahahaha!

    “Life at Ten’s trainer, Pletcher, say LAT was not herself in the paddock”. Valasquez becomes the fall guy. ahhahahahah!

    Stop! you’re killin’ me!

  • Rachel

    Aunt Bea: My family doesn’t even WANT me to remind them anymore!

  • Rachel

    What I learned from the report:
    How to better “Pass the Buck”
    “I saw nothing…nothing” is the best response.
    “No one told me anything” is the second best response.
    “It’s not my job to know anything” is the catch all response.

    Also:
    No talking on air before a race, by anyone to anyone, should be allowed.
    If you do talk, all the blame and punishment will fall on you.

  • Trappeddownontherail

    A few random thoughts on the report, which, I still believe, will result in few or no penalties and no changes of substance to protect horses and riders:

    . The vets on duty are potted plants? They have no responsibility to intervene on their own? They were paying 11 vets who were not even paying attention to what was happening on the track?

    2. The trainer has no responsibility to report to a vet/steward that his horse may be off? Strange, given the the trainer is supposed to be the person ultimately responsible for the horse.

    3. Maybe I missed this is the wordy iterations of ‘not my fault’, but no one asked Allday et al what drugs they administered and in what quantities? And I still get a laugh when I think of Vietch’s comment that the reason she never went to the test barn was because it was full. Even his fellow vets stepped on that stupidity/lie.

    4. And there is no discussion about the general effects of lasix, if indeed lasix is the primary substance under suspicion. Ban it, for goodness sakes. There are very good reasons it is banned in every other major racing jurisdiction in the world. We know better?

    All the words in the world cannot cover up the fact that there were monumental abdications of responsibility and lapses in judgment in regard to this incident. If racing wants to be be taken seriously, then it should act to show the public that it cares about the animal. From what I have seen so far, I doubt this will happen in this case.

  • just interested

    My take away from the LAT incident is that with all the officials, stewards, vets, etc. on site, that a KHRC or any other jurisdiction”s regulatory employee for the matter should be mandated to view the media feed for all future major races on national television. The notion of prohibiting a jockey being interviewed after the post parade and before loading the horses in the gate only takes away from the broadcast and removes the possibility of discovers anomalies (like this case) that could protect the horse and the betting public.

    As an aside, the violations brought against Johnny Velazquez will never stick and should be dropped forthwith.

  • wilderness fisher

    what ever happened to trainer responsability, everybody else is after the fact, which they all failed, a blind duck could see Life at Ten did not want to warm up, Jockey’s have refused to ride many horses that win there race with a diffrent jock because the didn’t like what they felt, this horse didn’t even want to walk let alone run, the trainer still has a responability, large.

  • Albany

    Pletcher Releases Statement on Life At Ten

    “We now know from state officials that her pre-race blood sample was subjected to comprehensive instrumental screening analysis–consistent with analysis performed on post-race samples and that no prohibited substances were found.”

    Sounds like a lawyer wrote this release. I think a better statement would have been to add the clause, “which is consistent with the fact that I do not use illegal or other substances that can enhance the performance of any of my horses in training.”

  • Don Reed

    Sorry I missed this, but I didn’t want to ruin my 59TH birthday (NO! I”M NOT GOING TO PANDA BEAR!)

    Seriously, this is all reminescent of Nixon stonewalling the press and hundling with his cronies in the White House in 1973-5.

    Pathetic. But the result is exactly half of what I expected. Veitch NOT getting a pass was surprising. But blaming JV is disgusting.

    And as usual, Pletcher walks, whistling a tune. Give him TWO Eclipses.

    What a world we live in, where the only discernable and commendable hero is Jerry Bailey.

  • 2sunroofsue

    The jockey’s responsibility is to report to THE TRACK VET located at the starting gate that he is unhappy with his horse. It was not in the scope of Jerry Bailey’s job to alert the Stewards. Given that Pletcher is Velazquez’s biggest account, he still should have alerted the gate vets. He could also have refused to ride her. Had he done that, the Stewards and vets would have made the decision to scratch her or not. It was the Stewards’ extreme error not to test her blood and urine post race. The rules said the first 4 finishers, and a beaten favorite. Sadly, Life at Ten was the second choice in the betting. Pletcher should have INSISTED her blood be drawn post race. The betting public and the integrity of racing suffered the consequences of all concerned passing the buck.

  • voice of reason

    I DEMAND we NOT take urine samples. Because urine samples might show something the blood samples don’t. And we wouldn’t want that. Because it’s transparent and complete. And who needs that in this sport. Next, they will be fining people real money. Then where would we be?

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