Dutrow Suspension: Kentucky adds fuel to the fire (Updated)

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Trainer Richard Dutrow recently began serving a 10-year suspension in New York due to a history of violations, fines and punishments, but his problems extend beyond New York.

UPDATE: The original story from the Paulick Report has added the link to the hearing officer's report.

ORIGINAL POST: The Paulick Report published a story indicating a hearing officer has recommended that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission issue a final order upholding their decision to deny Richard Dutrow's 2011 application for a training license. While Dutrow is already suspended in New York for 10-years, other states are not required to uphold the ban, although it seems unlikely that they wouldn't. But beyond upholding New York's suspension in other states, this ruling in Kentucky illustrates perfectly that Mr. Dutrow problems were bigger than simply the state of New York.

Okay, so here's the background: Dutrow applied for a license back in 2011 following the beginning of the entire affair in New York related to his current suspension. As Ray Paulick notes, his application was rejected:

"[c]iting numerous reasons for its denial, including admissions by Dutrow during the hearing that he had falsified previous license applications, falsely identified horses for the purposes of workouts in other states, and ran horses in the names of other trainers and continued to bill owners while on suspension."

Dutrow appealed (of course), the Commission had a hearing over a year later, and the hearing officer eventually made his determination. But that's not the astonishing part of the story. Nope.

According to Paulick's reporting of the ruling (I have yet to find a copy), Dutrow not only admitted to many of the violations the Commission based their license rejection upon (namely, lying on his application), but he indicated he would have gone further to conceal his violations.

The central part of the piece relates to the horse Wild Desert who won the 2005 Queen's Plate at Woodbine while Dutrow was serving a 60-suspension.

So, Dutrow's suspended, which means he's not supposed to have any contact with or be involved in the training of any of his horses. In Wild Desert's case that meant falsifying his identity in order to stable him at Aqueduct, while at the same time attributing a workout at Monmouth Park to Wild Desert (it was actually a different horse at Monmouth) in order to conceal the fact that Wild Desert was working at Aqueduct under a different name.

And some people think the industry is being too hard on Richard Dutrow.

This situation describes much of the problem with disciplinary actions in horse racing today. Whether trainers are actually handing over duties to assistants while they take a week, two weeks or a month off, or, like in the case of Mr. Dutrow, they simply ignore the rules and keep right on keeping on and just lie about it, the punishments are often times meaningless.

If at this point you're not fully disgusted, wait till you read the money quotes Mr. Paulick pulls from the ruling:

In his appearance before the Kentucky License Review Committee, Dutrow "blithely justified his deceptive conduct as necessary and appropriate," Layton wrote.

"I mean, I needed to get (Wild Desert) to Aqueduct to get the horse right," Dutrow told the committee. "That's where my help is. That's where we do our work."

And then the coup de grace:

"Upon hearing the Committee's decision to deny his license application," Layton noted, "Dutrow stated that, if he had known it would be denied, he would have taken further efforts to hide his training by entering his current horses in another trainer's name."

(emphasis added)

Let me just put this out there: I know a lot of people think Richard Dutrow gets a bad rap. They think he's just a scapegoat for an industry looking to make an example. That he doesn't do anything that isn't being done by other trainers around the country. And so on and so forth. And perhaps that's true. Perhaps he's scrutinized more than other trainers and perhaps the spotlight shines brighter on his dealings than on other trainers. And you know what? I'm fine with that.

And here's something else to consider, and this relates to the New York ban as well as the situation in Kentucky: Mr. Dutrow, in all of his appeals, rarely asserts that he didn't break the rules. Instead, he suggests that either A) the rules do not or should not apply to him, or B) that the people making the rulings are biased against him.

If you are willing to flat out admit to a disciplinary committee that you're prepared to completely ignore the rules (or find better ways to hide your non-compliance), you don't deserve any leniency. Seriously -- check out that last quote again. It that's an accurate description of what Mr. Dutrow told the Committee, then I'm not sure how anyone can defend his right to train horses in this country.

A trainer's license is a privilege, not a right.

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