A lawsuit filed by James Padgett and Race Horses by Diamond G Ranch, Inc. (Plaintiff) against All American Ruidoso Downs, LLC (Defendant) was dismissed by the Lincoln County 12th Judicial District Court on May 21.
The lawsuit claimed that Padgett's denial of stalls and exclusion from racing for the upcoming summer racing season was unreasonable. Judge Steven E. Blankenship disagreed and dismissed the case.
Padgett saddled the winner of last year's All American Futurity – Quarter horse racing's richest and most famous event held on Labor Day at Ruidoso Downs – but the American Quarter Horse Association's leading trainer by money won in 2017 has been told he will not be allowed to participate at the New Mexico racetrack when the 2018 meet begins on May 25.
The court determined “that the Defendant's expulsion of Padgett was not arbitrary and was an ‘exercise of a reasonable business judgement or with legitimate justification.'”
The court said, “The expulsion and rejection of Padgett's stall application alleged, according to the Plaintiffs, two lawful reasons: 1) Padgett is a ‘known associate' and former assistant trainer for trainer Judd Kearl who was suspended from horseracing in 2017 as a result of positive tests for horse doping; and 2) Padgett was prohibited from assuming training duties of Kearl by being his assistant trainer as prohibited by Rule 184.108.40.206(D)(5) NMAC.”
According to the court, an expulsion letter by the Defendant to Padgett on February 28, 2018, included the following justification:
a) that Defendant (Ruidoso Downs) has a responsibility to its patrons and participants to reach for the highest possible standards of performance and compliance, and to maintain a safe, fair and impartial racing enterprise;
b) that Defendant holds itself to standards of ethical conduct to protect the interests, safety, and welfare of all racing participants, including equine participants, and to create an environment of fairness for owners, trainers, and customers.
“We are, of course, pleased with the decision and happy that the court affirmed our rights to manage Ruidoso in the best interests of racing,” said Jeff True, president and general manager of Ruidoso Downs.
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