Gorajec: Racing World Should Pay Attention To Pennsylvania Lawsuit

by | 03.14.2018 | 12:32pm

Racing jurisdictions around the globe should watch closely the proceedings of a lawsuit filed recently in Pennsylvania, writes Joe Gorajec, former executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.

At Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, Gorajec looks at the federal suit against Thomas Chuckas, Thoroughbred bureau director of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission. The plaintiffs are four owners and trainers who were suspended in November over their failure to provide documents sought by the commission in a subpoena exploring possible hidden ownership and program training.

In January, a judge issued a stay of the suspensions and said the commission overstepped its bounds by suspending licenses without accusing the trainers of specific wrongdoing.

Gorajec writes: “One finding in Judge Leavitt's decision does not bode well for the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission. In a signal of what her final decision may be, she said that the horsemen had made “a substantial case on the merits”.

It is an understatement to refer to this particular language as an embarrassment for the Commission.

These horsemen are back racing, but damage, both financial and to their reputation, has already been done. These horsemen had been suspended for over two months, unable to earn a living, based on suspensions that, apparently, should have never been issued.”

Read more at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary

  • randy

    why didn’t they just produce the requested paperwork?

    • Really

      Why should they give information that the commission doesn’t have the right to ask for. If you read the subpoena they asked for all bank statements emails texts phone records bills, cash records, notes ,training lists, etc……why should an owner give tax returns for a Maryland based business to the pa racing commission…why should a police officer give phone records with confidential informant information in Delaware to the pa racing commission…the horsemen asked for the subpoena to be amended 3 times to something more reasonable and the commission said give it all or be suspended.

      • randy

        This is my opinion that if they are thought to be program training then the Commission has the right to subpoena all relevant records. If the trainer refuses guess he doesn’t want to run there.

        • Really

          Randy….I agree, but they were never accused of program training. They were told it was a random audit due to anonymous complaints. You also said relevant information. If all they wanted was relevant info, they would have been given the paperwork. But they didn’t limit the subpoena to racing information in pa. They wanted all financials for all businesses in all states. So if I own a financial services business I Maryland under a different corporation. They wanted those records along with racing records. If they limited their request to racing records, they would have been provided. They asked 3 times to have the subpoena amended to only include relevant records and chukkas said during the hearing that he couldn’t define what was relevant until he saw everyrhing…

  • cheeks22

    everyone who follows racing closely know who the cheaters are. How about some common sense punishments. Violation # 1 – 10 day suspension and $ 5K fine. Violation # 2 – 60 day suspension and $ 25K fine. Violation # 3 – Revocation of license and $ 100K fine. If your test is positive, this is what you receive. A split sample is tested within 10 days and NO STAYS. Owners should get punishment too. Look at Barbara Hopkins ( I believe ) at Philly. Are you going to tell me she doesn’t know what is going on ????

  • Billy

    If you guys cant even control whats goin on on your own backsides how in the world do you expect to prosocute these trainers…..tracks private property stalls are allocated, i do believe one has to agree to the horsemens guide to obtain stalls….horse racing is a privledge….for the wellbeing of the horses all these rights these trainers claim to have….how can that be in a publicly exibited contest….is there not suppose to be punishment for wrongdoing….does the tracks and commission not have a right to force someone to show there has been no wrongdoing….these legalities tied to this game are quite confusing….how could the commission go about this more appropriately im no lawyer

  • admiral

    I agree with cheeks22 but the courts will always overrule those common sense suggestions claiming due process

    • togahombre

      the right to due process covers you also

      • disqus_Wp1tYwcjgm

        And due process for the people that wager on races ??????

        • togahombre

          can’t see why not

  • Kevin Callinan

    Let me preface my comments by saying the PA commission has been the poster child for incompetence since casino money corrupted PA racing. This article appears to correctly point out that Indiana racing was run more effectively than PA- not hard to do. The idea that the trainers involved ‘had no violations for several years’ and should be given the benefit of the doubt based on their exemplary record shows a convenient lack of research. Omitting the fact that Guerrero had a 10 year ban(hard to have violations) to prove a point leaves ‘the world’ wondering who we can believe.

  • Bob W

    It would appear PA commission was taking the lead in trying to address program trainers/owners. It seems to me a problem is in HOW they went about doing it. Its no secret that program trainers/hidden ownership issues are evident in many jurisdictions, so yes, the PA case is sort of the poster boy here. Lets just hope the lawyers dont convince a judge the crooks were somehow “unfairly picked on” but that REAL progress/steps are being made to clean up racing’s image and eradicate the cheaters.

  • Bob W

    I applaud anyone trying to clean up racing…….Fairly certain that in most jurisdictions a license is a privlage, not a vested right. I applaud someone stepping up and asking questions such as Chuckas/Pa, but you have to be diligent in how you ask, otherwise the lawyers jump on it like a shark feed fest.

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