Jockey, steward cited for multiple violations

Kentucky racing officials say jockey John Velazquez and chief

racing steward John Veitch broke the rules during the running of

the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic last fall.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission determined Thursday there

is ”probable cause” to cite both Velazquez and Veitch for

violating state racing guidelines during mare Life At Ten’s

participation in the 1 1/8-mile race at Churchill Downs.

The case now moves to a hearing officer, who will determine

whether the violations occurred and could recommend disciplinary

action.

Velazquez told TV commentators moments before the race the then

5-year-old horse didn’t warm up properly on the track before

heading to the starting gate.

Life At Ten, owned by Candy DeBartolo and trained by Todd

Pletcher, was not scratched and went off as the 7-2 second choice.

She was never a factor, however, jogging behind the field for the 1

1-8 mile race, finishing last in the field of 11.

A postrace exam found no major health issues, but the bizarre

scene led to a four-month investigation into the circumstances that

allowed her to compete.

Though a summary of the 161-page report determined there was

”no evidence of intentional wrongdoing or nefarious or fraudulent

activity.” Investigators said there was a ”systetmatic breakdown

in communications” and a ”failure of common sense to

prevail.”

Velazquez, an Eclipse Award winner as one of the sport’s top

riders, was charged with three violations.

Officials claim the jockey either should have alerted

veterinarians about his concerns over the horse’s health or given

her a normal ride. For doing neither, he is cited for engaging ”in

conduct that is against the best interest of horse racing.”

Velazquez, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday,

told investigators he didn’t believe Life At Ten would have been

scratched even if he had subjected her to an examination.

”How (were) they going to scratch her?” he told investigators

in December. ”She’s not lame, I mean. She’s not limping. What were

they going to say, she’s too quiet to run?”

Though the report allows there were conflicting opinions on

whether Life At Ten should have been scratched, KHRC veterinarians

– Dr. Mary Scollay and Dr. Bryce Peckham – told investigators if

Velazquez presented Life At Ten for evaluation before the race, she

would not have been permitted to compete.

Racing officials claim Veitch, a Hall of Fame trainer, and the

other two stewards on duty failed to carefully monitor the

situation.

Though stewards were alerted to Velazquez’s comments that Life

At Ten was not warming up as usual by a television producer, they

took no action. Veitch also failed to require Life At Ten to submit

a postrace urine test or to properly investigate her unusual

behavior according to the report.

Veitch, who attended Thursday’s meeting, declined comment. KHRC

executive director Lisa Underwood said Veitch would remain in his

role at chief steward.

The stewards did look into the matter shortly after the Nov. 5,

2010 race but determined neither by Velazquez or Pletcher did

anything wrong.

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