By Ray Paulick
I'm not sure what size shoe he wears, but John Veitch must have a big mouth, because he just keeps sticking his foot in it.
Veitch, the chief steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, told Thoroughbred Times yesterday no action would be taken against jockey John Velazquez or Todd Pletcher in the matter involving the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic and the second wagering choice Life At Ten, who was eased after Velazquez told ESPN she was not warming up properly. Today he is quoted in a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal under the headline: “Veitch: Life At Ten Didn't Need to Be Scratched From Ladies' Classic.”
Worse, Lisa Underwood, executive director of the KHRC said the commission is considering a rule that would prohibit jockeys from being interviewed on television once they mount a horse for a race. Both Veitch and association steward Rick Leigh favor the ban.
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“From the time a horse leaves the paddock until the time he starts, nobody should have communication with that jockey one way or the other,” Veitch told the Courier-Journal.
This is exactly what I feared when I first wrote about the Life At Ten situation, that the KHRC would kill the messenger rather than address the breakdown in communications between the stewards—who were alerted to comments from Velazquez and trainer Pletcher that something could be amiss with Life At Ten—and veterinarians, who might have been able to detect a problem with the mare had they known what Velazquez told ESPN's Jerry Bailey. I deleted a sentence from a draft of the first article predicting a ban on horseback interviews with jockeys when associate Brad Cummings convinced me nobody—including the KHRC or its stewards—would be that stupid.
Well, guess what? Rather than address the problem of why stewards did not communicate to veterinarians what they learned listening to television, they may very well decide to just ban interviews with jockeys.
One veteran racing commission executive director told the Paulick Report yesterday he insists that his stewards keep one of their television monitors tuned in with the sound turned up whenever ESPN or any other network is broadcasting one of their races, because it's the stewards jobs to be the eyes and ears of the racing public.
Kentucky stewards might prefer to take the “hear no evil, see no evil” route.
The Paulick Report has urged the Breeders' Cup to conduct its own independent review of the Life At Ten incident and make their own recommendations. That call is louder than ever now that the KHRC appears to be dictating how ESPN may or may not televise the event.
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