KHRC denies a license to suspended trainer Dutrow

KHRC denies a license to suspended trainer Dutrow
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission decided not to grant a Kentucky trainers license to suspended trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.

After a deliberation, the commission's License Review Committee asked Dutrow to withdraw his application for a Kentucky trainers license.

Dutrow is serving a 10-year suspension from the New York State Gaming Commission -- a suspension that has been honored via reciprocity by the KHRC.

In a publicly broadcast open meeting of the KHRC License Review Committee, five potential trainers had license review hearings, with Dutrow’s the first on the agenda.

The KHRC addressed each license review individually before making its decisions.

Dutrow's legal counsel, Karen Murphy, was not pleased with the ruling against her client.

"I don't know what you want," Murphy said. "I don't know what you considered. I don't know what you found so unpersuasive that you would take this action for which I am profoundly disappointed."

Dutrow earlier spoke to the committee.

“The race track means everything to me, my family,” Dutrow said during his review. “It’s really just been a hard time with this. Watching from afar and saying, ‘man, I used to do this. Why am I not doing that?’”

Aqueduct racing stewards handed Dutrow a 90-day suspension in 2010 for two alleged medication violations. Dutrow appealed the suspension, and the board came down with a stricter punishment. In 2011, the New York State Gaming Commission revoked Dutrow’s training license for 10 years and handed him a $50,000 fine.

Dutrow started serving his suspension in 2013. The sentence stemmed from multiple violations, including discovery of syringes in his Aqueduct office containing a banned substance.

Kentucky-based trainer Dale Romans and renowned veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage spoke on Dutrow’s behalf before Dutrow, seemingly holding back tears, gave a compassionate plea to be reinstated in Kentucky.

Romans, alluding to a report that evidence against Dutrow was allegedly planted or tampered, addressed the board.

“We have an opportunity to right a wrong by letting this man go back to work,” Romans said. “One of the things that hurts Rick is that the story does not seem like it could have happened or be possible to one of the greatest horse trainers in the history of this game, in my opinion. In 11 years he had no catastrophic injuries or been suspended or thrown off a race track.

“Not because of a violation, but simply because he exercised his right as an American to appeal a decision by the superiors. To have a second set of eyes look at the situation to see if it deserved a 30-day suspension. The man got a 30-day suspension that upon appeal was increased to 10 years.”

Bramlage spoke to the quality of training and the way Dutrow treated the animals in his care.

“He never takes shortcuts,” Bramlage said. “He always goes with the best alternative for the horse. He never sacrifices a horse’s welfare to try to win a purse before something becomes clinical.”

Bramlage continued, “I think his record on lack of fatalities speaks for that and his approach to training the horse. I am a big fan of how he approaches training the race horse.”

A native of Maryland, Dutrow was three times New York's leading trainer. He counts among his victories three Breeders' Cup races and two legs of the Triple Crown, the 2008 Derby and Preakness Stakes won by Big Brown.

His voice cracking with emotion, Dutrow explained his introspection of the last seven years.

“Since I’ve been away, I’ve had a chance to reflect on things and look at myself,” Dutrow said. “I know that I’m part of the problem. There is no question about that. But I’ve done a lot of time for this. I just need an opportunity to train horses. That’s all I want to do.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m sorry to take up your time and cause all of this stuff, but I just need to train horses. Please. Thank you.”

According to Equibase, Dutrow won 1,811 races, and his horses earned more than $87 million. His biggest year coincided with Big Brown’s run at the Triple Crown.

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