Rodriguez Licensed in Kentucky, With Conditions

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Dale Romans testifies on behalf of Rudy Rodriguez at a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission License Review Committee meeting. Dale Romans testifies on behalf of Rudy Rodriguez at a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission License Review Committee meeting.

Rudy Rodriguez, the trainer of Kentucky Derby contender Vyjack, whose perfect 4-for-4 record ended when third to Verrazano in the Wood Memorial April 6, will be able to train the son of Into Mischief when he checks into Churchill Downs later this month.

That’s because the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s License Review Committee voted Tuesday to grant a license to Rodriguez after a two-hour hearing that focused on Rodriguez’ recent medication violations (several overages of therapeutic drugs phenylbutazone and flunixin in 2011-12) and his prior association with trainer Rick Dutrow, who has been banned from the sport for 10 years by New York racing authorities after being denied a racing license in Kentucky.

It was an unusual hearing, given the fact that Rodriguez has no major medication violations in his history. There were questions about how a former jockey and exercise rider could grow a public stable from just a few horses in 2010 to one that presently has more than 80 horses, employs nearly 40 people, and has enjoyed considerable success.

The committee put conditions on the Rodriguez license, requiring that the trainer install 24-hour surveillance on Vyjack, including video surveillance at Churchill Downs that would be open to KHRC officials at any time.

Ironically, Rodriguez and his lawyer, Karen Murphy, claim that it was a lack of video surveillance at his Aqueduct barn that led to someone tampering with the Rodriguez runner Majestic Marquet on March 10, 2013. Rodriguez installed video surveillance at his barn, Murphy said, but after being asked to move to another portion of the barn was not able to re-install the video cameras because the electrical system would not support it. He asked NYRA to upgrade the barn’s power supply, she said, but the association failed to do so.

The horse tested positive for flunixin at such a high level that Murphy said it could only have been given by someone who was out to get Rodriguez. No charges have been filed in that case, and Rodriguez is offering a $50,000 reward to anyone who has information that could lead to him discovering what happened to Majestic Marquet. The horse won a starter allowance/optional claiming race as the 2-1 favorite the day he tested for 405 nanograms of flunixin.

Questioning by committee chairman Burr Travis centered on the role Rodriguez may have played in the Wild Desert workout incident that eventually landed Dutrow in so much trouble. The horse was banned at New York Racing Association tracks because of a dispute with its owner, but Dutrow allegedly snuck him in under a false name, and Rodriguez exercised him one morning and was subsequently fined and suspended for providing false statements to authorities. Shortly thereafter, Wild Desert went on to win the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine in the name of Robert Frankel, who agreed to saddle the horse while Dutrow was on suspension.

Speaking on Rodriguez’ behalf was Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans, who said he respected Rodriguez both for his horsemanship and character. Vyjack will be stabled in the Romans barn at Churchill Downs.

Also testifying, by telephone, was owner Michael Dubb, who is a member of the New York Racing Association board of directors and has horses with Rodriguez, Chad Brown, and Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Dubb, who previously had horses with Dutrow, said Rodriguez should not be penalized simply because he formerly worked for a man that Dubb referred to during his testimony as an “idiot.”

Rodriguez testified that he has had no recent communication with Dutrow, verbally or in writing, and in the last several years has said little more than “good morning” to his former boss when he sees him on the backstretch. “I think he probably got mad when I left,” Rodriguez said of Dutrow. Rodriguez admitted that he picked up as many as 15-20 horses when the Dutrow barn was shut down because of his suspension.

Dubb said Rodriguez, an immigrant from Mexico who is now a U.S. citizen, “is a first-class human being and epitomizes the American dream.”

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  • Bubba

    “requiring that the trainer install 24-hour surveillance on Vyjack,
    including video surveillance at Churchill Downs that would be open to
    KHRC officials at any time”

    This should be mandated for all horses and be open to all. Maybe someone could watch like the viewer that ratted out Tiger Woods last weekend.

    not that it would be very hard to walk to end of shed row to another stall to “adjust the halter”

    all good but not fair that every horse wouldn’t have the camera!

  • Lexington 3

    The KHRC is the NCAA of the thoroughbred racing world.

  • Richard C

    It’s sounds like the Lords of the Realm are saying – “Don’t pack anything in a suitcase and get out of town by midnight.”

  • http://twitter.com/racetrackandy Andy Asaro

    How many horses died under the care of Rudy Rodriquez in the last couple of years? I know a
    lot of people don’t like hearing that but I really don’t care anymore after the CHRB meeting last Thursday. Bob Baffert IS NOT bigger than the game. Mark my words that if nothing more is done and the cover up continues it will be devastating to California Racing. Bob Baffert is not a draw to every day Gamblers, in fact he’s a reason to bet elsewhere. I can’t expect the
    David Israels, the Keith Brackpools, the Mike Pegrams, the Bo Dereks, or the
    Rick Arthurs to understand that but then again why would they?

    • Lexington 3

      You’re in the wrong thread, Beavis.

    • Olebobbowers

      Well said Andy. How baffart has them all conned is beyond me. He has offended to extremes that should be attracting discipline beyond the CHRB. They have proven they are inadequate once again.

  • http://twitter.com/racetrackandy Andy Asaro

    Baffert should have the same conditions placed on his license and be under the same surveillance if not 3 week surveillance. LOL. They love to link Rodriguez with Dutrow but how about Baffert with Kaleem Shaw? Check out his company and the penalty they had to pay to the U.S. Government. Again “Baffert Gate” is way worse than anything Rodriguez has ever done.

  • Superfecta king

    Dale Romans, a one time claiming cheat, who’s gone onto win an eclipse is now serving as a “character” witness? LOL No wonder this sport is dying…

    • Roisin

      Says a lot about where we are and, more importantly, where we are headed !

    • Red Rider

      When in KY, do as the Romans!

  • http://twitter.com/GuyFleegman1 Guy Fleegman

    You cannot make this stuff up if you tried. Kentucky Derby JUMPS the shark…yet again.

  • LB

    Hey Andy Asaro, Sounds like someone is super jealous of Mr. Baffert. You sound like a gambler that never knows when to put Bobs horses on your ticket. You talk a big game for someone who doesnt own one piece of a race horse. You are a nothing in this industry and its amazing that people even waste a second of their time reading any of you rediculous emails or posts. Keep knocking the people that are trying to help racing. You think Mike Pegram doesnt have better things to do with his time. Andy you are a hater and a fool and you are a big ZERO in the racing industry

    • nu-fan

      LB: From the comments that have been appearing, recently, there are a LOT of others who are in the industry and in the same camp as Andy. And, for you to suggest that anyone, who does not own one piece of a racehorse, has no place in voicing opnions is utterly contemptuous. Is it possible that there are those who own a piece of a racehorse but, at the same time, have more at stake at keeping things from improving and less objective at the same time? Yes. Concerning your thinking, I hope that you and your cronies, alone, can keep horseracing alive. Or, maybe, It’s just that you don’t want others playing in your sandbox. But, you can’t have it both ways–spend money in my ballpark but don’t say anything.

    • http://twitter.com/racetrackandy Andy Asaro

      What can I say to that? LOL

      You can keep on your knee pads for Baffert and Pegram if you’d like but first of all you should put up your full real name. That would be a start. I love it when people like yourself discount the Customers who bet every day. I think we pay Bafferts bills by betting but what does he do for us when he advocates for higher takeout. And as far as using him on my tickets what’s not to use if you like 3-5 shots. As far as my emails go they are intended to get under the skin of people like yourself and I can see I’ve succeeded. Most people like them but then again most people don’t don’t believe that someone with 7 or 8 sudden deaths of horses under his care should bet a pass.

      Why do you think he should get a pass?

      Thanks for the good words nu-fan.

    • salthebarber

      LB, calling a customer a “big ZERO” exemplifies why the game is in decline. I understand there is a context here, but you went too far. It brings back the Mullins incident where he called the bettors “idiots”.

    • Red Rider

      Handicapping tip: the best time to bet on a Baffert horse is when he helped the racing secretary write the conditions and/or has 30% or more of the horses entered.

    • Miracle Trainer

      Usually, people who can’t spell ridiculous are zeros in my experience.

  • thecajun

    Why are they so hard on this guy for an overage on (ban) / flunixin. It’s legal Dale thanks for showing your support for Rudy

  • Gene

    The Clowns at least got this one right….The KHRC is whats wrong with Kentucky Horse Racing.no two people are treated the same. Depends on how well they know you.

    • Witness

      It all depends on how many horses you have and how well you are known Burr Travis admitted in the meeting yesterday if you don’t have alw horses then there is no room in Ky for you or any other trainer with claiming horses, I heard it loud and clear in the comm meeting yesterday. So anyone in the claiming business in Ky Burr Travis says your not really welcome!!! Little outfits stay home or go to Ohio or WV .. He will never realize if not for the claimers he wouldn’t have a commissioner job. He won’t realize it until its to late. They don’t care one bit about Turfway & Ellis . Snobby men like this is killing the industry !!!!

      • Red Rider

        I knew it, I knew it. Its those damned snobby men trying to ruin racing again. Thank goodness they have been exposed.

  • nu-fan

    I once worked for a major company and our corporation had a policy that we followed very strictly. It was called the “iceberg” principle. When we found an employee guilty of any sort of theft, whether large or small, that employee was terminated immediately. Why even the “small” thefts? Because, like an iceberg, that one small theft was just what we saw–what we caught them at. But, like an iceberg, what was not seen (under the water) was often far, far greater. Thought about this old principle when reading this and other similar articles. Minor infractions? Maybe. Or, maybe, that is the one small thing that was found out. But, what might have been overlooked or what might have been missed? Those that cheat–CHEAT!

  • Don Reed

    Bad news. Really bad news.

  • Calibob

    Good. And to all these high and mighty folks like Superfecta King, I suppose they should deny Rudy a license for a single violation, and guilt by association with Dutrow. Nevermind that he’s done a remarkable job with Vyjack, a dream-come-true kind of horse. The Kentucky Commission should rob him of his chance to win a Kentucky Derby. That would be a great story.. A race won by O’Neill, Pletcher, Dutrow in recent years all with multiple suspensions and violations. But no, we should single out this man and prevent him from competing.

    And good job for Dale, Chad Brown, Bill Mott all standing up in this man’s defense. You want to simply characterize Dale Romans as a “former claiming cheat who’s gone on to win an eclipse award?” I’ve got news for you, there isn’t a single claiming trainer that isn’t considered a cheat by someone, and in my opinion that makes your label virtually meaningless. Between Dale and Rudy you’ve got two examples of what HARD WORK can accomplish, dedication to their owners and a damn talented hand with equines. How about mentioning THAT as the reason their so successful?

    No? I didn’t think so. Sitting in your quiet apartment, typing away your frusterated anger that a man wasn’t punished and kept out of a race. Good for you, way to be a complete waste.

  • Bob Hope

    UNDUE PROCESS ??? let sanity prevail !!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.infurna Michael Infurna

    This whole thing is a joke and has the makings for a good reality show!! Dale Romans testifying on Rudys behalf, Rudy offering a 50K reward to find out who drugged his horse (I don’t know many trainers that have 50K to spend on a reward), Dubb referring to Dutrow as an “idiot” (how many races did Dutrow win for Dubb before he was an idiot?), and 24 hour video surveillance of a horse!! Who is paying for someone to watch a video of the horse for 24 hours?? Rudy?? Romans?? Unbelievable!!

    • Olebobbowers

      The last time I saw a trainer offer a huge reward for someone turning in the person that gave his horse bute, back when it was illegal, was Hirsch Jacobs, in the 50′s or 60′s. It dawned on me then, sure they can offer huge rewards, because they know that ‘they’ are the guilty party, therefore, that money is never going to have to be paid out. From my viewpoint, it’s a form of confession when RR offers FIFTY thousand as a reward…jus sayin…

      • Stanley inman

        I wondered the same thing when I heard about reward.
        It seemed to point a finger back to Rudy;
        That’s why the dose
        Chosen
        was expected to be prima facie evidence
        His horse was tampered with.
        Sending the posse down another canyon
        It’s a fascinating story
        Dale Romans has splashed into;

      • http://twitter.com/Bellwether4U Bellwether

        Agree…Smelt Fishy…

        • http://www.facebook.com/chris.lowe.129357 Chris Lowe

          Smelt HAHAHAHA!

    • Red Rider

      No worries. Even I have fifty grand to pay myself.

  • Barry Irwin

    The Kentucky racig commission, unlike another similar organization recently featured in the news, is showing that they have the smarts to understand that just because a trainer has a couple of positives for drug overages, that they are aware of the bigger picture. No commission is going to deny a guy a license based on these violations. But there is plenty of other evidence, such as complete form reversals of horses trained by this guy, that carry a lot of weight within the horse training and betting communities. By taking this action, the commission is showing they are not a bunch of dummies. Good on them. These form reversals point to this trainer as representing the American Dream about as well as Lance Armstrong did.

    • http://www.facebook.com/van.cushny Van Cushny

      Rudy is a superior horseman, even better than Graham Motion. The analogy that you made to Lance Armstrong is unjustified slander for which you should apologize.

      • Red Rider

        Do you know Graham Motion or has he trained for you.? I don’t think he has any med violations, which is fewer than Rudy.

        I agree that Barry should apologize to Lance. Shame on you, Barry, Lance said he was sorry (sort of).

        • Aunt Bea

          mr. Irwin is understandably on an elderly egomaniacal head trip these days, so let’s all cut him a bit of slack, Ok?

          • MightveBen

            These days?

    • Aunt Bea

      I think people in the know realize what’s going on, mr. Irwin, but that was a good try. Lance Armstrong even! Lol

    • Miracle Trainer

      Barry, his staff works harder than everyone else and he feeds the best feed and hay.

  • ziggypop

    A cheat is a cheat. Again, horse racing leadership rewards bad behavior. Shame on them.

  • Craig Brogden

    Every horse should be stabled at Churchill Downs under the same conditions for such an improtant race.
    Allow anyone to subscribe to the feed and gain access to see their favorite horse in the leadup to the big race.
    This would be a great tool for the handicappers to see how the horses are acting in the leadup to the race.
    How many fans would love to check in on their favorite horse before the Derby
    TRANSPARENCY for all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.infurna Michael Infurna

      What they should do is provide 24 hour surveillance on every Derby horse and put the live feed on the internet so the players/fans can watch what goes on in the barn every morning!!

      • TLF

        Now that is an incredible idea. Players and fans would monitor like nobody’s business!

  • http://twitter.com/Bellwether4U Bellwether

    Fair enough…Rudy is skating on thin ice in New York and I just hope he is no longer in the Babes hip pocket for real…I’m pulling for the Horse anyway…ty…

  • Windways

    I’ve been in this sport for over 35 years and I love it. If the cheaters keep getting a free pass from the regulators than it may be time to exit. Very sad.

  • ray’sghost

    Isn’t it strange how Jack Van Berg, Rex Ellsworth, John Shirreffs, Charlie Wittingham, Grover Bud Delp, King Leatherbury, Noble Threewitt, and HUNDREDS of other trainers never had someone “out to get them” by (allegedly) drugging a horse? This sheet is incredible, what these criminals come up with.

  • Sampan

    Rudy Rodriguez didn’t put on his KHRC trainer license application that he had been fined and suspended by NYRA for providing misleading information to authorities regarding the Wild Desert affar. I’ll bet when he previously applied for his NYRA training license it was on there.

  • trotter

    Rudy win % prior to NYRA monitoring – ~22/40% (last Aquaduct meets)
    Rudy win % after NYRA monitoring (2013 outer track meet) – 9%
    Coincidence?

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