Dutrow case back to hearing officer

Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s medication violation case has been sent back to a Kentucky hearing officer for further consideration.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Monday voted to remand the case for more review. The hearing officer earlier this month recommended the commission overturn Dutrow's 15-day suspension for use of clenbuterol in Salute the Count on Oaks Day.

Hearing officer Jim Robke said the lab reports, which found the horse had 60 percent more of the prohibited medication than allowed, indicated the tests were done on "plasma" while the state's drug rule applies to "serum."

The state objected. That filing was not made public but state veterinary medical officer Dr. Mary Scollay has said the test reports were in error and that the tests were done on serum.

Gerry Romski, an attorney for Dutrow, voiced opposition to the racing commission's action at Monday's meeting. "I think it's very unfortunate. They're going back for another bite of the apple," Romski said.

Commission chairman Bob Beck Jr. said he wouldn't characterize things that way. "We believe there is some information that needs to be put in the record so a decision can be made," Beck said.

Race dates

In other action on Monday, the racing commission approved the racing calendar for 2009, at least for now.

Officials from Ellis Park, in Henderson, told the commission it may have to cut back racing from five days a week to four or even three days, depending on how much competition from racetracks in Indiana and Pennsylvania cuts into business next year.

Tracks in those states can offer much higher purses with money from expanded gambling, said Ron Geary, Ellis Park owner. The track would have to get approval from the commission and from horsemen to drop the days.

License debate

After intense discussion, the commission put off until next month a vote on new "conditions of licensure" designed to making betting more secure.

The conditions would, among other things, demand that racetracks notify the commission of outside investigations involving betting or racing, guarantee that bets are not being made after races have begun, or that bets are not being canceled after the race starts.

The commission also conditionally approved an emergency regulation that would increase licensing fees and requirements, something horsemen's groups have objected to.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader