Federal Court Dismisses Dutrow Appeal Of 10-Year Suspension

by | 06.24.2015 | 8:28am
Rick Dutrow

In a decision filed earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s appeal of a 10-year license suspension in which he claimed his due process rights were violated during an administrative proceeding.

In 2011, Dutrow's training license was revoked for 10 years by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, predecessor to the New York State Gaming Commission, after three days of testimony before an administrative hearing officer.  Following the suspension, Dutrow filed a lawsuit against the New York State Gaming Commission; John Sabini, who had served as chairman of the NYSRWB and was an officer of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI); the ARCI itself; and NYSRWB members Daniel Hogan and Charles Diamond, claiming that the board's decision to revoke his license “violated his federal rights to due process.”

Attorneys for Dutrow first argued before the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, that his rights were violated in three ways: 1) by a conflict of interest involving John Sabini, who was serving both on the board of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and as chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering (predecessor to the New York State Gaming Commission); 2) as a result of that conflict or because the Racing and Wagering Board retaliated against Dutrow for appealing a previous 90-day suspension against him; 3) because the Racing and Wagering Board applied statutory and regulatory standards that were unconstitutionally vague.

Sabini “was a participant in the decision of ARCI to cause Dutrow's license to be revoked,” Dutrow's attorney argued, due to the fact ARCI president Ed Martin wrote in a letter to the Racing and Wagering Board that it should consider Dutrow's “suitability” for participation. Further, Dutrow alleged, “Sabini was on both sides of the equation (prosecutor and decision maker)” and the penalty imposed on Dutrow was “unreasonably affected by the actions of ARCI while Sabini was its Chairperson of the Board-Elect.”

The Appellate Division dismissed those claims, ruling he was not “denied a fair hearing,” though it did not specify whether Sabini's alleged conflict of interest tainted the administrative process.

In affirming the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals Judges wrote:

“In sum, when the Appellate Division decided that Dutrow was not denied a fair hearing, it actually and necessarily decided the issue of whether the hearing officer's and Sabini's actions during the proceeding constituted due process violations. And because Dutrow had a full and fair opportunity to litigate that issue (and did litigate that issue) in the Article 78 proceeding, he was collaterally estopped from relitigating it before the district court.”


  • Kevin Callinan

    When you look at today’s headlines in this publication you grow weary of all the references to drugs, shortened meets and even track owners having horses come up positive. The sport needs a makeover not Dutrow II.

    • Joan Drape

      Agreed. There certainly needs to be a new sheriff in town.

    • Keyne

      But we already have Dutrow:Michelle Nevin-Dutrow….

      • jorge

        She is a very good trainer. I think she trains for Anthony Beck

      • What relationship are they to each other?

        • Content Generating Machine.

          Former girlfriend according to DRF

    • Long Time Fan

      Another ignorant comment about Dutrow. Zero horses broke down in his care. Mr Baffert has had many many more than that, so has Pletcher. Do some research on Dutrow before saying such stupidity.

      • Kevin Callinan

        who the hell are you. Stupid, ignorant…… he violated the rules blatantly and repeatedly. A horse can breakdown on a racetrack for a multitude of reasons- poor confirmation, heredity, a misstep, etc. Illegal drugs are in a horses system for one reason- the trainer asked for them to be administered.

      • race

        agreed–very, very good horseman, who flipped his nose to the white shirts, did not know when to keep his mouth zipped unfortunately and he paid for it—did not play in the same sandbox as Plethcer and Baffert–

        • AngelaFromAbilene

          And THAT is the ONLY reason he got 10 years.

        • 4Bellwether666

          He pissed the wrong people off for sure…

      • Betty Earl

        Ditto! Ditto!

      • peter jaworski

        I find it hard to believe that any trainer anywhere with any meaningful experience has not had the misfortune of a horse suffering some sort an injury resulting in either retirement or euthanization.

      • morethanready

        Unrequited in 2010, raced at Belmont then he had him run 2 days later at Monmouth and he broke down


    People get serious. There is no sheriff coming to save the day. American Pharaoh’s TC win won’t save American horse racing and Meets will continue to get shorter. The government could have stepped in 20 or even 30 years ago to provide oversize in rearguards to drugs but why try to save a sport that’s already dead ?

    • vinceNYC

      Drugs have been in racing for a century…more violations now due to better testing

      • Vince they have more and better stuff today than in the old days

        • Elle D

          Occasionally, I attend the KY Racing Commission meetings. One of the better ones focused on meds which, admittedly, they cannot keep up with. Always new brews showing up!

      • AngelaFromAbilene

        Drugs have been in racing since the first time somebody said “my horse is faster than yours and I’ve got $$$ to back it up.” As Barry said, there’s just way more and better stuff today.

    • peter jaworski

      Thanks for letting me in on the TRUTH. I hadn’t heard that the sports is already dead. Can you disclose your sources? Also I haven’t noticed the meets I follow such as Saratoga, Belmont, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Tampa Bay, Los Alamitos, Turf Paradise, Churchill, Parx, Fairgrounds, Oaklawn, Keeneland, Delaware, Kentucky Downs or Laurel having shorter meets. Please let me in on where you get your info on the shorter meets at the tracks I follow. I’m interested on how much shorter these meets are going to get.

  • Jamie DeRouen

    My question is can he train in other jurisdictions. And what is he doing now

    • RayPaulick

      The New York license revocation is honored by all other racing states.

      • Louie Dula

        Ray Paulick…
        Have You read the three articles on Horse Race Insider about how they framed Rick. The author did a wonderful job of stating the REAL facts about how they railroaded Rick. I’d like to hear your opinion of what is written there. And just HOW corrupt IS the NYRA.???!!!!!

        • Ranyp

          The NYRA has nothing to do with this. This is the state is New York acting as the regulatory body.

      • Jamie DeRouen

        Thanks ray

    • JoeJoe

      He trains on a farm in Florida and is Michelle Nevins boyfriend. I would guess he is involved in the “training” of her horses.

      • What farm? Stronach?

      • Benson

        Yes, I’d love to know where he’s training..

        • Betty Earl


          • Benson

            So I can go and work for him, because he’s one helluva horseman, thats why

  • Racing Fan

    The last thing the sport needs is a repeat rules violator like Rick Dutrow back in the sport.

  • C.E. Butler

    Amazing that his protege Rudy Rodg. is still around. He has as many or more violations than Dutrow himself. Spends at least 14 days a year on suspension for med. violations. When is enough enough. Any wonder this sport is DEAD?

    • Daniel Jividen

      Rudy’s secret is that not only does he use the same PEDs as Dutrow he also uses the same lawyers. Both are top drawer.

      • johnnyknj

        No offense, but you guys are absolutely clueless about Rudy. BTW, please specify the PEDs he and Rick Dutrow use/used. And please don’t cite banamine overages as evidence of PED use.

        • Tinky

          It apparently hasn’t occurred to you that it was obvious to many observers that Barry Bonds was cheating well before anyone had heard the expression “The Clear”, or that Lance Armstrong was cheating well before the nuances of micro-dosing EPO were known outside of the circle of rogue athletes and their ‘consultants’.

          I’m not going to get into the specific RR argument, but it is, in many cases, not necessary to be able to name the substance used in order to identify athletes or horse trainers who have cheated, or are cheating.

          In fact, the most successful form of contemporary testing is to establish baseline blood profiles. Then, if and when when they are exceeded by a wide margin, it becomes clear that the athlete has been doped. even though the specific drug is unknown.

          • johnnyknj

            Again, no offense, but you have no idea what has or hasn’t occurred to me. In fact I agree with your overall premise that cheating is often undetected for long periods prior to someone being caught. I was clearly referring to specific comments regarding Rudy Rodriguez which I believe are unfounded and carelessly tossed out by people who have no direct knowledge about Rudy or the way he runs his barn. To extend the “people are cheating and not being caught” meme to the conclusion that anyone with medication overages or who worked for Rick Dutrow is likely using PEDs is, in my opinion, a slippery slope best avoided by those seeking real reform.
            Further, Rudy is 20% over the last 5 years, and 17% in the last year. Hardly “super trainer” numbers. If he’s a cheater, he’s not a very good one. He runs a good shedrow, gets on many of his horses in the mornings, along with his brother Gustavo, and places horses realistically. Finally, I don’t want to open a can of worms, but I wonder if his last name were Johnson or Wentworth or Chadwick if the criticism would be so casually applied.

          • Tinky

            Well, if what I outlined had occurred to you, then you wouldn’t have grandstanded with the demand for specifics. Or shouldn’t have.

            Rudy came out of nowhere and was winning on the New Your circuit at 25% during his first year training. You’re welcome to believe that it was beginner’s luck, or that he was always destined to be a top trainer, but, especially because of his close connection to Dutrow, having shared owners, etc., it is understandable why some held a very different view.

            Having “direct” knowledge is, as I pointed out above, not at all necessary in identifying athletes and/or trainers who are likely to be cheating.

            I do agree that RR’s record in recent years is not particularly suspicious, but your efforts to defend him come off as bit too strident.

          • johnnyknj

            Ok if we’re going to be demeaning (“grandstanded”, “strident”) try these: pompous, sanctimonious. smug. If asking for actual facts is deemed grandstanding, the discussion has reached the ludicrous.
            I often agree with your comments but you seem to be a bit carried away with your omniscience. I have to believe your avatar would disapprove.

          • Joan Drape

            Uh … methinks thou doth protest too much!

          • Tinky

            That’s an excellent example of how reflexively defensive you have been, continue to be, and how you have, ironically, ignored the very facts that I have presented, which happen to undermine your efforts to defend RR.

            Asking someone to “specify the PEDs” used is the very definition of grandstanding in the context of this type of discussion. Why? Because you know full well that it won’t be answered, appearing to strengthen your defense, when in fact it does no such thing.

            Unless a cheater (or by proxy his vet) is caught red-handed, even those specifically tasked with enforcing rules wouldn’t be able to answer that question. But investigations begin long before such details are known, because, in most cases, there is ample circumstantial evidence, coupled with real evidence (e.g. statistical, scientific, etc.) to raise serious suspicions.

          • togahombre

            concerning your last point, you might remember when he first went on his own he drew alot of suspicion due to his success and his previous employer, but at the same time there were two other trainers new to nyra, who’s names weren’t johnson or wentworth but were along those lines, they were claiming trainers whose newfound success was about identical to rudy r’s, but never a word about how they could be doing it, one of the ny writers at the time made mention of it but no one else then or since

          • johnnyknj

            Yes, let’s examine all the high % trainers who “came out of nowhere” regardless of surname.

      • Dee R. Eff

        Clearly their lawyers aren’t as good as Baffert’s and others. Dutrow got ten years and Baffert has more drug violations. He once fought a morphine charge for 5 years in federal court and got it overturned on a technicality. Yep, Bob’s are better.

        • Joan Drape

          Oh, poppy seeds!

    • Happiness Noel

      Mercy, kindness and TEACH these men out of their bad ways. Race track chaplains please assist? Most people would rather be good than bad if they could make the change. How many citizens and racetrackers could mentor or assist men like this TO BE BETTER? For themselves, for the horses, for the sport, for their fellow man. God will surely help those who raise the name of Jesus and help these men stop sinning and just do the job right.

      • AngelaFromAbilene

        If you honestly believe that, I want some of whatever it is your on!

    • Joan Drape

      He must, like Jacobsen, pay more to the correct palm…

  • JCG

    Looking for some clarity. If the trainer has a paper/ program trainer and it is legal to work on a farm that is as equipped or better than the tracks what is the big deal? Other than having to ship and exercise on the surface that they will race on without shipping in. Mr Dutrow and others in his same posture have clients with sick amounts of money and wouldn’t care where the horses are trained. I just don’t get it if everybody is still getting paid meaning Dutrow as a farm employee and the paper trainer is getting paid I would imagine. Is it because of the glamour to be in the program or in the standings? For me personally as long as I was getting paid and it was legitimate why would anybody want to be reinstated? It’s clear they have a paper trainer and as the paper trainer gets good results more clients come. It’s business, right wrong or indifferent it’s the way this business has been forever. Not that I agree with it but how can it be policed?

  • Tinky

    Tough break, babe.

    • Absolutely tragic de facto verdict, isn’t it?

  • gandalf380

    Dutrow had 1 medication violation in 10 years and no breakdowns.

    • Betty Earl

      The guy got railroaded.

    • peter jaworski

      You mean him or the horses?

  • f^2

    Dutrow was scapegoated. No one really believes that there has been less corruption at NY tracks in the three years that he has been suspended? It sounds like his “last” appeal was denied because of procedural stuff and not because his rights of due process were violated. I hope he sues the NYRA for many millions and wins. If I was a lawyer, I would take this 3-5 shot on a contingency.

    • Betty Earl


    • peter jaworski

      Since there has not been ‘less corruption at NY tracks in the three years that he has been suspended’ he may as well be let back in. They should choose another trainer, suspend them, and see if there is less ‘corruption at NY tracks’ while they’re suspended. Just take turns with different trainers and when there is ‘less corruption at NY tracks’ with whoever is suspended at the time, ban that trainer for life, as you have clearly caught the corrupt trainer. How simple is this?

      • As simple as your train of thought: A flea wouldn’t have a hard time leaping over it.

    • Wrong.

    • Randyp

      NYRA has nothing to do with this. It is the New York State Gaming Commission or what was the New York State Wagering Board.

    • McGov

      It was not wrong to suspend Dutrow for 10 years. But it is wrong not to suspend the others like him for 10 years also.
      We don’t need to make ‘examples’ with one off maximum suspensions like Dutrow…..we need to get back in the stall and clean it properly….there is still lots and lots of mucking left ;)
      Anyone that mocks the sport by continually violating the rules needs to be tossed.
      Simple. The sport is better without him.

      • SteveG

        I agree with you. This is less about whether or not Dutrow was scapegoated, made into a symbol or simply given the bum’s rush & more about treating one obvious symptom & ignoring the disease. The problem has become compounded over the many years during which the powers-that-be chose to be permissive & let miscreants slide. The basic fatal mistake. Now, it appears no regulatory entity has the stomach to turn over the entire garden. No regulatory entity can face the short-term pain of it or the massive disruption a clean sweep of the stall, as you put it, would create. That’s the primary reason so many of us have given up hope for meaningful (read: radical) reform from the inside & seek what is essentially a new hard-drive for the one we have that sputters & makes funny noises.

  • peter jaworski

    Too bad, looks like he’ll have to keep paying Sydney to enter the horses he is training.

  • Share

    Perhaps he was scapegoated as you say, but the sport has got to get cleaned up if it is to survive. And, while it’s clear “Dutrow got ten years and Baffert has more drug violations. He once fought a morphine charge for 5 years in federal court and got it overturned on a technicality”, the public can clearly see what’s going on, especially when horses die; and, it’s past time to start making the penalties stick. These guys got tagged by the law because they broke it. Bottom line.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram