Veitch Wants Life at Ten Case Reopened

by | 02.27.2013 | 9:55am
John Veitch

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, 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.'”

  • Barry Irwin

    Go get ’em John!

    • kyle

      Here’s what I don’t get, Barry. When it comes to drugs in racing you recognize and are concerned about the adverse impact on public perception. But in an instance like this where the integrity of the wagering product was compromised,undoubtedly furthering eroding public confidence, you seem cavalier about it. Can you explain the seeming contradiction and tell us what if any action you would have liked to have seen taken in the aftermath of the Life At Ten debacle?

      • Rachel

        You’re missing the point…a critical piece of testimony that impacted Veitch’s decision was not allowed at his hearing…don’t you think ALL pertinent testimony should be examined?

        Let the eharing be re-examined with this pertinenet info and then let the chips fall where they should…at least you have all the FACTS.

        • Rachel

          PS forgive typos…have a broken arm, hard 2 type, lol

      • Sue M. Chapman

        Accountability on all fronts.  The trainer, who saddled her, the numerous vets On the Track during both the post parade and at the gate.  Did they notice she was uncomfortable.  Johnny V, who should have alerted the vet at the gate, not Jerry Bailey.  Johnny paid his fine.  Breeders’ Cup for having No Protocol for Beaten Favorites to go to the Test Barn for blood and urine testing.  Dr. Mary Scolly for always finding a way out for her blunders and misstatements.  John Veitch for his inability or desire to focus on his job, on Racing’s most important day.  The Kentucky Racing Commission for failing to spread the blame around.

    • Don Reed

      Sorry, Barry, disagree.

      Kyle makes an excellent point.

    • Lexington Trainer

      Barry IrwinCollapse
      Go get ’em John!Let this day, Wednesday, February 27, 20013 be marked as the day I actually agreed with an exclamation by Barry Irwin.  Small wonders never cease.   Go Barry!

  • Longshorelongshot

    A steward should treat all races equally, this guy does not do that. I for one am glad he is gone.

  • Bcelliot

    I watched the race and I just the viewer thought she dint look right in the diddling are.

    • Bcelliot

      Oh boy spell check);SADDLEING AREA

      • Don Reed

        “Saddling,” not “saddleing.” If your spell-check gave
        you the latter, you have the same unreliable product as mine. What the H. No
        big deal. Heart’s in the right place.

        (Dutrow’s new legal defense: “My NYRA nanogram-check didn’t work!”)

        Back when memory alone was it:

        “From the gallery of much-loved British character actors… Victor Maddern
        – never to be forgotten for fluffing his lines in [the film] ‘Dixon of Dock

        “Given the words, “It’s down at Dock Green Nick,” [he] came
        out with ‘It’s down at Dick Green Dock.’

        “Trying to correct himself, he then said: ‘It’s down at Dock Green

        KABOOM!  ” ‘Who writes these
        bloody scripts?  Can’t I just say ‘down
        at the nick’?  F*** Dock Green!’ ”

  • FEDavidson

    Based upon the evidence previously disclosed, John was unquestionably the scapegoat for several including, but not limited to, Pletcher, the State Vet, et al.  The questions to be answered at this juncture, if not previously addressed, are who promulgated the “rule(s)”?  When were they changed, if at all? Why was there confusion as to the applicable “rule(s)”?  Most importantly, why was the Scollay statement not made a part of the record?  What was meant by, “dropped the ball”?

    But, regardless of the Scollay statement (which is likely accurate given the obligation and authority to address soundness issues at the gate), John was railroaded and the KHRC used its 20/20 hindsight to blackball a fine man.

    • ExactaGirl

       Ultimately, it was Veitch that was responsible for the debacle of not scratching Life at Ten. So he pays the price. Period.

    • Loanstuff

      It should have involved – Track Vet, State vet, Trine (especially trainer).. Polictics at the track are better that Demo – Repub’s!  Same crap – different playing field.

  • Ida Lee

    Since the Dutrow article hasn’t pissed me off enough, here comes the Life At Ten incident.  LAT should never have been in the starting gate. Anyone with eyes, including me watching from my living room, knew there was something wrong with her. This guy should grow a pair and take his medicine and spare us another go-round of this nerve wracking incident.

  • Don Reed

    Must be a case of Dutrow (filing-a-frivolous lawsuit/motion) Envy.

    Fascinating that these two characters ended up on Page One on the same day.

    Identical results to follow.

    • Larry Ensor

      IMO your quips are really getting old and tiresome. Though the rare one has made me chuckle. It is a public forum and you have the right to stick foot in mouth just like anyone else. As an American the 1st amendment grants you that.
      I have known John Veitch for over 30 years and I take exception to you calling him a “character”. He is a man of strong conviction and one of the last of a dieing breed to be found in racing. I may not have always agreed with his view of things but I have always respected and admired him. Unless you can say the same show a little respect for a man who has done the walk and earned the right to do the talk.

      • JSR

        Did you ever go into a hearing with JV presiding and know he had already made up his mind before ever hearing all of the facts, I have and I wouldn’t call that a man of the highest integrity, I believe he let his EGO go to his head.he played favorites anyone that knew him very long knows that, and I’ve known him for 25 years, he thought he was above the law and he had to pay for his mistakes just like everyone he played Judge, Jury& Executioner against. I love the fact that they called his credibility very suspect. What comes around goes around even for those that believe they are above the law. To bad for him he found out he wasnt, and wants to blame everyone else but himself.. What a shame..

        • HelenBach

           This may be correct, but these qualities do not distinguish him from every other steward in every other jurisdiction.  The personal characteristics may have contributed to his downfall, but they are universally associated with the job.

          A little power makes little people feel big

          • From what I can find out about him, he was already a pretty big man in the sport.  They don’t hand out entries into the Hall of Fame to just anybody. 

          • MrPeabody

            Guess that makes him a Hall of Fame steward.

      • James Staples

        your boy jv blew it larry…PERIOD…

      • Where was that “conviction” when Goldikova bulled her way into a path that never existed then got rewarded by said steward with no-DQ? In 25 years of watching races almost daily, I’ve yet to see a more obvious DQ not upheld.

    • James Staples

      Lets hope so…ty…

  • Janfis

    I still think the trainer should hyave been fined or something.

    • Olebobbowers


    • HelenBach

       That can be JV’s new defense.  “The trainer wasn’t fined, so I should not be responsible for my actions.”  Vorks for me, and vorks for Veitch.

      • James Staples

        JV took the fall for TP…ty…

  • Jd

    Please go away.  No one wants to hear from you anymore.  You blew it on horse racing’s biggest stage and you now are paying the price.  Next time, do your job properly.  You had this info and chose to do nothing with it.  Stop blaming everyone else for your royal screw up.

    • Tim G.

      Got to agree with John here. Veitch is a clown that needs to find another line of work. Something like picking up trash on a public golf course.

    • Black Helen

       John Veitch is a good Man, Life at Ten was “not right”and tying up, it was clearly evident to me on my TV screen. (deleted)

  • Francis Bush

    Veitch has been hounded about his foresight in this matter. Isn’t it about time to clear him of the travesty that occurred. Frankly, I thought that the wagering fans were the people who were cheated. I lost an exacta because of this oversight by the Breeder’s Cup officials.

    • ExactaGirl

       Clear him? No, it’s not time to clear him! He was responsible and at fault!

  • john was a successful horseman.   but i cant agree with his outlook in big races at churchill.   the stewards never take down a horse in the kentucky derby.  this creates more danger.   jockies angle in sharply from outside posts early in the race.  this causes horses from behind to check hard.  just watch some replays of past derbies and you will see how sharply the outside horses angle inward.  the horses down on the rail, have no room to move inward to avoid contact with these horses.  how come the foreign jockies have very few problems during their races with large fields ?  swallowing the whistle in these huge events creates more injuries.   why does it take a jockey to start a fight in the winners circle to get a horse taken down in big events ?  

  • Grady

    If it had been a maiden twenty Johnny V would have had no trouble finding the state vet.  

  • Lexington Trainer

    The vets at the track are not sitting around like Maytag Repairmen waiting to have a phone call from a television producer relayed to them in order to officially observe the horses before a race.

    They ALREADY DO THAT.   That process is ALREADY IN PLACE.   It has nothing to do with John.

    This entire episode was built on the ignorance of the masses and was from the very beginning nothing more than a search for a scapegoat.  Because even ignorant people know what a “chief steward” is, John was picked out.

    • JSR

      Mr Veitch acknowledged hearing the comment of John Velazquez. who is going to look out for the betting public if a Stewart is told there is possibly an issue with a horse and don’t take SOME kind of action??? If he didn’t hear riders comment that’s a different story !!!

    • Beanie

       Didn’t the Maytag Repairman get replaced, too?

  • Foxfield

    Let us examine all the facts that we know regarding this convoluted case. 1. A jockey who should have known the rules and certainly should have either told the Steward, (who should have known the rules…steward = rules!)  who told Jerry Bailey who told someone else who eventually told Veitch 2.  Then the jockey continued to ride a horse that his gut told him wasn’t right and not only put his own life at risk, along with the horse and the rest of the field, to say nothing of the bettors who thought this horse was at the top of her game and put down lots of money at the window. 3.  Up to this point apparantly nothing was even mentioned to a vet.  Hello?????? Was the jockey “afraid” if he told the vet the horse wasn’t right that the owners would blame him if the horse was scratched and never use him again?  Or was he simply ignorant of the procedures?  The rest of the debaucle seems to be a case of who said what to whom, when…Personally, I believe everyone involved was culpable in one way or another.  He said, she said doesn’t cut it…I hope every jockey, steward and vet learned something from this situation.  A great many individuals were affected by a singular decision made by the jockey.  I wonder how many times jockeys make these decisions on the way to the post.  It’s scarey…there are enough unknowns that factor into a horse race without adding to them by what might be decisions by “intimidated” jockeys.  It appears that Veitch’s argument that the vets were to blame is a mystery to me since I don’t see a time line indicating exactly when or even “if” the vets were involved before the race.  What’s missing from this puzzle?  Does anyone know? I’m afraid there will always be many questions about this  case  but few answers. 

  • Jd

    Is anyone else sick of the photo of Veitch above?  Every time I see it, it reminds me of the $1000 I lost on Life at Ten.  Ugh.

  • Larry Ensor

    To those of you who think the LAT incident is John’s fault no disrespect but you only have a laymen’s understanding of the game. Once a horse leaves the paddock it is entirely up to the jockey as to whether the horse gets in the gate. Unless the on track Vet “sees” something questionable. If not and the jock feels something they don’t like the on track Vet is there to discuss and evaluate. I have been evolved in racing my whole life and have never seen, heard or read about an on track horse being scratched by a steward without the recommendations of the on track Vet. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
    The Stewards have far more to concern their selves with then what the bobble heads are saying on TV. I heard what the jock said and was shocked the horse got in the gate.
    Yes, there seems to be some procedure, protocol that should have been followed after the race but I was not there so I will not pass judgment.

    • Nickers

       Now I understand: Stewards can force a horse to run after it leaves the paddock, but they can’t stop it.  Jerry was right on this one.  Dictators do what they want to do (an omit doing what they don’t want to do).

  • SteveG

    The person closest to the horse at the moment(s) of truth & best able to judge her race-worthiness was John Velazquez.

    He informed a national TV audience she was off.  Then, for some unknown reason, failed to engage an on-track vet to examine her, loaded as though prepared to ride & then when the gate opened, decided to jog around the track.  A complete one man comedy of errors & he was finded (a mere) $10,000 – he didn’t lose his job.  Clearly, the prime mover in the debacle. Only thing worse would have been if he decided to race her instead of lolly-gag & she got hurt.

    Mr. Veitch has some culpability in the matter but scratching the horse isn’t one of them, IMO.  He’s at least two layers back from that decision process unless he wants to shoot from the hip in the BC.  His errors were made post-race – most significantly, not insisting that a test be conducted after LAT’s non-peformance – despite that the test barn was reported to be overcrowded.  Big mistake in terms of perception as the bettors who were already irate about the race, became more irate when they felt hung out to dry after the race…gave the impression to the bettors nobody gave a damn.  Tone deaf.  He underestimated the scope of the fiasco in the public’s eye.  Bettors had a right to be pissed off after that race & he missed the ball.

    Finally, I believe Mr. Veitch didn’t do himself any favors by appearing, by turns, defensive, indignant, abrupt, truculent.  Unwisely played, for sure.  In fact, he might have helped himself by taking a page out of Ray’s playbook and recent comments about sincere, simply stated acceptance of responsibility and when you’re wrong, even partly wrong, (or the organization in which you are the Chief Steward goes wrong) a humble apology would have gone a long way in de-fanging the loudest critics & might have saved his job.

    He’s got a tough road ahead.  I get the impression, though, he feels deeply aggrieved, that he believes he’s been treated unfairly and hence, the tenacity he’s displaying. 

    • Lexington Trainer

      Very well said.

      The public wanted their pound of flesh and John, in both title and demeanor, became the target.

      My advice to anyone seeking employment by the state of Kentucky in a racing official capacity is to be ON the kangaroo court, not IN ITS CROSSHAIRS. 

      • Beanie

         Stewards comprise a kangaroo court. 

  • Kris

    I still think it was a sham that Veitch got fired and T. Pletch got a free ride.  

    • Tim G.

      I have always thought it was a sham that Veitch was ever in the states top spot to start with. He was bought and paid for by Churchill Downs and since he was the head stew he had no intention of creating an environment where a scratch would have resulted in a refund. Breeders Cup day or any other race day,

    • James Staples

      TP got a free ride on JV the jocks back not on JV the BIG HEADS… 

  • BarneyDoor

    Nothing like this should ever happen at the BC!

    George Washington
    BC Classic
    Monmouth Race Park

  • C-Town C

    LaT ran like a cheap claimer at some lousy mid-level track in a race where there was no chance of losing — unless the oats had mysterious taste very early in the morning.

  • Jerry

    HEY VEITCH————-



  • FourCats

    “Veitch apparently was under the impression that any horse would automatically be scratched if the state veterinarian was alerted.”

    I’m not one to scapegoat anyone.  However, as a steward, wasn’t it part of his job to know the rules of racing?  Furthermore, in my opinion, his biggest failure in this incident was in not having Life at Ten tested after the race was over.

    If trainers, jockeys and veterinarians are subject to fines and suspensions when they fail to do the proper thing, stewards should be as well.

  • I find it rather strange, I was just thinking about Life at Ten & wondering how she was doing, these days. I still have the pre-race interview with Pletcher and the footage of LAT being saddled in the paddock area and the post parade on my DVR. It is clear, that something wasn’t right with LAT prior to the race. I’m just grateful nothing bad happened to her, or the other horses in the Ladies Classic. 
    The best thing that could come out of this mess:
    Make sure, IT NEVER happens again !!

  • James Staples

    I’m your Captian???…HOOS SHIP SANK MANY MOONS AGO!!!…ty…

    • James Staples

      “CAPTAIN” damn it!!!…ty…

  • Jerry

    Consider this………………..

    It’s quite surprising that CDI didn’t protect their pal Veitch because he saved them MILLIONS by NOT scratching Life at Ten.

    If he had scratched Life at Ten would CDI officials thrown Veitch out of the stewards stand??

    Maybe next time Veitch should get his deal done and in writing before he makes or doesn’t make a crucial decision..

    Go away John, you knowingly screwed up and it’s obvious that CDI no longer needs you………

  • Ray, I wish you would recount a little about John Veitch.  What is his background, what did he do prior to his job as the head steward, and how is it that he was the only one hung out to dry, and the trainer was totally let off the hook?  I know the jockey was fined, but that seemed wrong at the time.  Had this incident occurred in CA, with the CA “trainer is ultimately responsible” rule, Mr. Pletcher no doubt would have been called to account as well.  This whole matter has had a bad smell about it from the get-go. I don’t know Mr. Veitch personally, but somehow I think he received a raw deal.  This man’s reputation has been trashed, his life’s work has basically gone up in smoke, and his ability to even earn a living has been compromised.  Some of the comments here I find distasteful about this man trying to clear his name.  Does the man have any friends? Are there those who can vouch for his honesty and integrity, or lack thereof? Just would like to know a little more before I pile on.

  • I’d like the Goldikova non-DQ looked at as well, John.

  • stevejones

    Here’s a guy that made remarks about everyone on this site! What a sham to all the betting public on Breeders cup day!!!! He was the chief state steward,I would think from his expert eye ,he would call down to the on track vet! jerry bailey was no stop talking about the horse to johnny v( the jockey johnny v) Veitch and the other steward ,plus the vet made a bad call,not to mention the jockey!

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