Veitch Wants Life at Ten Case Reopened
Former chief Kentucky steward John Veitch has filed a motion in Franklin Circuit Court to reopen the case, currently in the state's Court of Appeals, that led to his suspension and ultimate dismissal by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission involving the Life at Ten incident in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Churchill Downs.
The commission voted to uphold administrative hearing officer Robert Layton's finding that Veitch violated four rules of racing involving Life At Ten, whose jockey, John Velazquez, told ESPN analyst and former jockey Jerry Bailey during the Ladies' Classic post parade that the filly was not warming up properly. Veitch, who was informed of Velazquez' comments, did not alert state or Breeders' Cup veterinarians stationed around the track to examine the horse. Life At Ten was never a factor in the race and was eased across the wire.
Among those who voted to uphold the Layton's finding was commissioner Tom Conway, who, according to bloodhorse.com, now says he was unaware of some testimony given during the hearing that may have swayed his vote.
At issue, in part, is the rule in place at the Breeders' Cup concerning whether or not horses would be automatically scratched if examined by the state veterinarian during the post-parade of a race. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission equine medical director Mary Scollay said the rule in place was the same as adopted earlier that fall at Keeneland, namely that a horse would not automatically be scratched if the jockey asked the track vet to examine it. If the horse was observed to be off or lame, it would be scratched. If not, the vet would relay to the jockey that the horse was okay to run, but if the jockey insisted he or she did not want to ride it, at that point the horse would be scratched.
The rule was adopted after an incident at Keeneland when Garrett Gomez asked for a horse to be scratched, then refused to ride it after the state veterinarian said the horse had no problem. The horse, Stream of Gold, was given a substitute rider for Gomez and finished seventh in a $10,000 claiming event. He didn't resurface until seven months later in a $3,200 claiming race at Fairmount Park.
Veitch apparently was under the impression that any horse would automatically be scratched if the state veterinarian was alerted.
The testimony Conway said he was not made of aware involved comments made by Scollay several months after the Breeders' Cup in a meeting attended by horsemen and Churchill Downs officials where she allegedly said she “dropped the ball” in the Life At Ten incident.
Veitch wants Conway depositioned and has filed an affidavit with the court asking for the case to be reopened.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, in a response to Veitch's motion, said that, under the applicable law, only extraordinary circumstances should lead to the reopening of a case under appeal.
“Veitch previously argued to the hearing officer, the Commission, and this Court that the veterinarians were to blame for allowing Life at Ten to race, and fully presented his defense that he was ‘the scapegoat' of an intra-office dispute,” the commission's response says. “These defenses were fully litigated (and rejected) before, but are now being re-cast in this Motion, by claiming ‘inaccurate information' was provided to the Commission during its deliberation of this matter. However, no specificity has been provided to the Court of what this ‘inaccurate information' is supposed to have been, nor how it effected the Commission.
“The only information provided by Veitch to support his Motion is his own affidavit, which fails to specify what ‘untruthful information (was) provided to the commissioners.' Veitch fails to offer any information to suggest that what (he) wants to discover is of a different nature than that which he has already presented to the Commission and this Court; or that the information is new; or that the information truly concerns false or perjurious testimony.
“Veitch has demonstrated time and agam that his credibility is suspect – from his deceptive comments to KHRC investigators, through his testimony at the hearing, and unsubstantiated statements made to this Court,” the racing commission wrote. “In fact, this Court ruled that the ‘Hearing Officer expressed a reasonable disbelief of Veitch's testimony.'”