Linda Rice wins appeal to overturn New York suspension

Linda Rice wins appeal to overturn New York suspension
Photo: Sue Kawczynski / Eclipse Sportswire

A New York court overturned a three-year suspension of trainer Linda Rice by state authorities, calling the move “shockingly unfair.”

The ruling came Thursday from the appellate division of the New York Supreme Court, as reported earlier by Thoroughbred Daily News.

The New York State Gaming Commission voted 5-0 in May 2021 to fine trainer Linda Rice $50,000 and revoke her license for at least three years because of "improper and corrupt conduct in relation to racing."

The penalties came after a report from a hearing the previous fall in which the commission accused Rice of paying New York Racing Association officials to get “regular, continual and improper information,” such as expected entries and past performances, mostly from Jose Morales Jr., a racing clerk.

The dispute centered on how racing officials fill overnight races, encouraging trainers to enter horses in a process called “hustling.” Though officials agreed that horse names should not be provided, they disagreed on other types of information that could be given, such as trainer and jockey information and past performances. Rice acknowledged that she was told horses’ names, though she said she didn’t know the information was confidential or that providing it was prohibited.

“NYRA bears much of the responsibility for what happened in this matter by fostering an aptly named ‘hustling’ process without written rule or diligent oversight,” the court said in its ruling.

The court also noted that although racing clerks occasionally would share the names of horses to encourage entries, Rice is the only trainer ever disciplined by New York state authorities for this violation. It said this is “a troublesome point given that (Rice) is the only female trainer ever to win a training title at a New York track.”

The court said it did not object to the monetary portion of the penalty, “but we conclude that a license revocation is entirely unwarranted.”

The monetary penalty was sent back to the gaming commission for reassessment.

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