Retired Steward’s Letter To New York Gaming Commission Raises New Questions In Dutrow Suspension

by | 02.17.2020 | 6:42pm
Rick Dutrow at Belmont Park in 2009

A retired state steward in New York has written an explosive letter to his former employer at the State Gaming Commission alleging that the 10-year suspension of Rick Dutrow was based largely on incriminating evidence that may have been planted in a desk drawer inside the trainer's office at Aqueduct by a state investigator.

John Pricci, writing at, first reported on the letter from Stephen Lewandowski to the New York State Gaming Commission, the successor to the State Racing and Wagering Board. The latter suspended Dutrow for 10 years in 2011, calling him a “person whose conduct at racetracks in New York State and elsewhere has been improper, obnoxious, unbecoming, and detrimental to the best interests of racing.” The suspension came after a butorphanol positive drug test and the discovery of three hypodermic needles in a desk drawer during a subsequent search of the trainer's office.

“When discussing Mr. Dutrow's case during my time as the State Steward,” Lewandowski reportedly wrote in his Nov. 24, 2019, letter to the Gaming Commission, “Mr. Braulio Baeza Jr., the NYRA Steward at the time… told me on numerous occasions that evidence against Mr. Dutrow was planted…

“At no time (while working for the state) has any member of the Commission asked me for any background,” Lewandowski wrote. “I have detailed knowledge of this case as I was the Alternate State Steward at the time.”

Lewandowski, who retired last summer after five years as chief state steward, added, “I state emphatically that his penalties for which he received ten years and a $50,000 fine do not equal the infractions that occurred. It was obvious, and still is, that this was a personal issue against Mr. Dutrow which did not merit the punishment he received.”

The letter also was sent to the Queens District Attorney's office, which reportedly has reopened a criminal investigation on the possible planting of evidence.

Daily Racing Form reported that neither Baeza nor the State Gaming Commission would comment on the matter. The Gaming Commission has not responded to Lewandowski, according to both published reports.

Dutrow, who trained 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, lost his appeals of the sanctions and is serving the seventh year of his suspension. Efforts by Dutrow's attorney, Karen Murphy, to have the case reopened in 2018 were rejected by the State Gaming Commission on a 4-2 vote. Murphy has said the state agency has failed to respond to a more recent attempt to reopen the matter.



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