Jamgotchian Takes Challenge Of ‘Claiming Jail’ Rules To U.S. Supreme Court

by | 08.23.2016 | 2:28pm

Jerry Jamgotchian is nothing if not persistent.

The California-based Thoroughbred owner has fought a five-year battle over Kentucky regulations that prohibit a claimed horse from racing out of state until the meet during which the horse was claimed comes to an end.

Jamgotchian challenged the so-called “claiming jail” or “jail time” rule in Franklin Circuit Court in Kentucky and lost.

He took the case to the Court of Appeals and lost.

He took the case to the Supreme Court of Kentucky and lost.

Now Jamgotchian's attorneys, Richard Getty and Kristopher D. Coleman of the Getty Law Group in Lexington, have filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, claiming the lower courts were erroneous and conflicted with one another on their interpretation of whether the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution is being violated by claiming jail rules, which Jamgotchian contends hinder interstate commerce.

The lower courts, “with different theories,” Getty said, “have tried to dodge the line of Supreme Court cases that say it's a per se violation (of the Commerce Clause) to halt intestate commerce.”

The Kentucky Court of Appeals, Getty said, ruled that the regulation of racing is a traditional governmental function while the Kentucky Supreme Court said it is not a traditional government function but that the benefits to restrictive claiming rules outweighed the impediments.

“It is a per se violation of the Commerce Clause,” said Getty, who said 27 jurisdictions have similar rules.

The petition points out that, after Jamgotchian challenged California's claiming jail rule, the California Horse Racing Board amended its claiming jail restrictions.

Getty said it could be months before the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the case.

Meanwhile, Jamgotchian is challenging the West Virginia Racing Commission, which said he violated its rules by racing the horse Majestic Angel at Mountaineer Park on July 17 after claiming the 3-year-old filly for $25,000 from a race at Indiana Grand on June 17. Indiana rules prohibit horses from racing out of state within 60 days of a claim without permission of the stewards and racing secretary.

Jerry Jamgotchian

Jerry Jamgotchian

The applicable West Virginia rule states: “All horses claimed in other states and racing in the state of West Virginia are subject to the conditions of the claiming rule in the state where the claim was made.”

The Mountaineer Park racing office permitted Majestic Angel to compete in the July 17 race after an assistant racing secretary at Indiana Grand said “there was no restrictions running in another jurisdiction,” an email from the stewards to Jamgotchian states. “We later learned from the stewards in Indiana of the 60-day rule which would make the horse Majestic Angel ineligible when it ran,” the email added.

In his response to the stewards, Jamgotchian posed several questions, including “Are all Indiana laws also enforceable in West Virginia.”

In a statement to the Paulick Report, Jamgotchian said: “How can West Virginia officials conspire and attempt to enforce Indiana laws to their own detriment? What about the horse owners' rights under the Commerce Clause? If necessary this case will also be fully litigated to protect the rights of all horse owners.”

Supreme Court Petition


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