By T. D. Thornton
Richard E. Dutrow, Jr., who in February regained his license to train horses in New York after sitting out a 10-year revocation imposed by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC), is on the agenda for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC)'s license review committee meeting on Tuesday to try and regain his license in that state.
The 63-year-old GI Kentucky Derby-winning trainer with the long and controversial history of racing infractions has a 1-1-1 record from three starts at Belmont Park since rebooting his career with fresh stock May 6.
Earlier this week, Dutrow was named as the new trainer for the 2022 GI Florida Derby winner White Abarrio (Race Day). An ownership entity for that colt, C2 Racing Stable, had stated the switch was necessary to ensure White Abarrio would be able to campaign in major stakes given the indefinite suspension recently imposed by Churchill Downs Inc., (CDI), upon White Abarrio's former conditioner, Saffie Joseph, Jr.
According to the KHRC meeting notice, the May 30 format will be for the committee to go into closed session “to deliberate regarding individual adjudications. The committee will reconvene in open session to vote on the participants' license applications.”
Dutrow's trainees earned more than $87 million between 1979 and 2013. They won multiple graded stakes, including three Breeders' Cup races and the 2008 Kentucky Derby with Big Brown. He often topped the trainer standings at New York tracks during the 2000s decade.
Around that same time, Dutrow's official rap sheet maintained by the Association of Racing Commissioners International began to swell with violations related to an array of equine pharmaceuticals.
Between 2000 and his attempt to win the Triple Crown in 2008 with Big Brown, Dutrow was cited for 18 drug infractions, ranging from comparably benign violations for overages of legal medications phenylbutazone and Lasix, to more serious charges of using mepivacaine, an anesthetic that can be used to make sore horses feel no pain.
In addition to $20,000 in drug fines, Dutrow racked up a $5,000 penalty for providing misleading information to authorities about a workout, and was slapped with a $25,000 fine in 2007 for having contact with his stable while he was supposed to be serving a suspension.
On Nov. 20, 2010, the Dutrow trainee Fastus Cactus tested positive for butorphanol after a winning effort at Aqueduct. Dutrow's barn was searched and investigators claimed to have found in a desk drawer three syringes filled with a muscle relaxer, xylazine.
The NYSGC's predecessor agency, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, revoked Dutrow's license on Oct. 12, 2011.
Dutrow battled that revocation for two years, both at the racing commission level and in the courts. His suspension officially commenced Jan. 17, 2013. Later that year he filed a failed federal lawsuit seeking monetary damages and a reinstatement of his licensure.
In 2017, Dutrow filed for and was granted Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, claiming he had zero income and total liabilities of $1.76 million.
In 2018, a collective of supporters launched an online petition calling for the NYSGC to allow Dutrow to be allowed to return to training. The petition was signed by a number of Hall-of-Fame trainers and jockeys, but it failed to sway the commission.
In 2020, Dutrow's legal team tried a different route by applying for a license in Kentucky. Appearing before the KHRC's license review committee, former NYSGC steward Stephen Lewandowski testified on Dutrow's behalf, alleging that the syringes found in Dutrow's barn in 2011 were planted. Fellow trainer Dale Romans also vouched for Dutrow, as did the noted equine surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage.
That 2020 KHRC committee voted not to grant Dutrow a license without stating its reasoning. At the time, TDN reported that the committee's chairperson, Ken Jackson, said during the meeting that it was the committee's policy not to comment on its rulings once they had been made.
The KHRC license review committee did, however, allow Dutrow to withdraw his application so he could avoid having a denial of licensure on his record.
Dutrow has since paid a $50,000 NYSGC fine, his term of revocation in New York ended on Jan. 17, 2023, and he now has a valid New York license in hand.
According to the KHRC website, the current members of the license review committee are Lesley Howard (chair), Paul Brooker (steward designee), Jamie Eads, Greg Harbut and George Haydon.
Dutrow is one of four trainers on the agenda. The others are Patricia Brewer, David Ward and Francesca de la Flor.
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