Court upholds trainer Dutrow’s ban

An appeals court on Thursday upheld trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.’s 10-year ban from racing for drug viola

An appeals court on Thursday upheld trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.’s 10-year ban from racing for drug violations.

The Appellate Division unan­imously rejected Dutrow Jr.’s argument that his hearing was unfair and that New York State Racing and Wagering Board chairman John Sabini should have recused himself from the disciplinary case. The five judges also concluded that the punishment is not excessive, considering Dutrow’s recent violations and disciplinary history.

Dutrow’s license was ordered revoked by the NYSRWB in October, though he has been working under a court-ordered stay.

According to the board, the stay remained in effect Thursday because he hadn’t yet exhausted his legal options. His 10-year ban is among the board’s harshest penalties, second only to the lifetime ban in 2009 of breeder Ernie Paragallo after malnourished horses were found at his Hudson Valley farm.

Calls by The Associated Press to Dutrow and his attorney Michael Koenig weren’t immediately returned Thursday. They can try to appeal to New York’s top court, and seek a further stay of the penalty.

“We conclude that the rev­ocation of petitioner’s license for a period of at least 10 years and the im­position of a fine was not so disproportionate to his proven, recurrent misconduct as to shock one’s sense of fairness,” Justice Thomas Mercure wrote.

While the racing board prev­iously renewed Dutrow’s license despite prior infractions, “it properly relied upon that history in tandem with the instant violations to determine that petitioner engaged in conduct that was improper and inconsistent with the public interest and the best interests of racing.”

The three-member board in October cited infractions including syringes containing a painkiller and sedative found in Dutrow’s desk and the painkiller butorphanol, an opioid analgesic, found in the urine of his horse Fastus Cactus in November 2010 after it won at Aqueduct Racetrack. The board also fined him $50,000.

The court cited “substantial evidence” to support those charges.

The trainer had told a hearing officer that he didn’t know how the syringes got into his desk. A blood test of Fastus Cactus didn’t show any butorphanol, and Dutrow’s expert witness theorized that the urine test might have been contaminated.

He faced brief New York suspensions for drug violations in 2003, 2004 and 2008.

Koenig argued in court that the unprecedented punishment was fundamentally tainted by Sabini’s position in the Association of Racing Commissioners International, whose president had urged the state board to consider revoking the trainer’s license. The attorney said his outspoken client’s due process rights had been violated, and that Dutrow initially faced a 90-day suspension that he appealed, and the case escalated from there, despite no new issues.

Dutrow trained Big Brown to Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins in 2008. He was refused a license to race in Kentucky last year.

Kentucky officials cited a half-dozen concerns about Dutrow, whose license was suspended for 30 days in 2009 after one of his horses tested positive for a breathing stimulant.

Big Brown never violated a drug rule, but Dutrow was widely crit­icized when he acknowledged the horse had the then-legal steroid stanozolol in his bloodstream during his Derby and Preakness victories. Kentucky and most other states have since banned stanozolol and other anabolic steroids.


Hall of Fame trainer Frank “Pancho” Martin, who dominated the New York Racing Association circuit during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, died Wednesday night at his home in Garden City, following a brief illness. He was 86.

Best known as the trainer of Sham, who finished second to Secretariat in the 1973 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Martin first topped the trainer standings in New York in 1971 with 106 winners.

“His favorite horse was Sham,” Martin’s son, Greg, told NYRA. “He always loved Sham.”

Although not as active in recent years, in 2012, Martin saddled 77 starters, finishing second five times and third twice.

During a career that spanned more than 60 years, he saddled 3,240 winners of more than $47.5 million, according to Equibase, including champions Autobiography, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top older horse in 1972; Outstandingly, 1984’s top 2-Year-Old filly; and Sham, who won the 1973 Santa Anita Derby and battled Secretariat through all three legs of the Triple Crown.

He won Saratoga titles in 1980 and 1982.

Born in Cuba in 1925, Martin moved to the U.S. in 1949 and settled in New York in 1951.

“He was difficult to get along with, but he had a good heart,” Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero said. “If you needed money [he’d give you some]. He bought a restaurant, and he didn’t let anybody pay for one year, and then he had to sell it. I asked him, ‘How are you

going to have a restaurant if you don’t have anybody pay?’ He said, ‘When I retire, I’ll get rid of it.’ That’s how good of a person he was. ”


In an unfortunate scheduling quirk, the two biggest filly races in the country this weekend have the same post time on Saturday.

Saratoga’s stakes is the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks, while Delaware Park will run its Delaware Handicap, featuring a great matchup between Royal Delta and Awesome Maria.

Royal Delta was third in the CCA Oaks last year, then won the Alabama on her way to the 3-year-old championship.

Last year’s Delaware Handicap turned into one of the greatest duels of 2011, won by 2010 Alabama winner Blind Luck by a nose over Havre de Grace. In her next start after that race, Havre de Grace won the Woodward against males at Saratoga.

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