BY DAVID GRENING
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – With the 10-year suspension of his license officially taking effect Thursday, horses trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. have been formally placed in the care of other trainers.
In New York, where Dutrow has a barn full of horses stabled in Barn 10 at Aqueduct, Wesley Ward took over the training of approximately 42 horses. Six other horses, all owned by Paul Pompa Jr., were moved to different trainers, including the stakes winner This Ones for Phil, and Reaching Out, who was entered but scratched out of Thursday’s eighth race. Both went to Rudy Rodriguez, who is stabled four barns away from Dutrow at Aqueduct.
In south Florida, Michelle Nevin, a former assistant and former girlfriend of Dutrow’s, passed her trainer’s test Wednesday, according to Gulfstream Park president and general manager Tim Ritvo, and was given 20 stalls at Gulfstream Park.
Among the horses in Nevin’s care is Teaks North, who is entered to run in Saturday’s $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park.
The New York State Racing and Wagering Board’s suspension of Dutrow’s license for a history of rules violations went into effect Thursday after Dutrow’s attorneys failed to apply for an injunction or a stay in federal court Wednesday. It is expected that an application for an injunction will be made at some point, though Dutrow’s attorney, Mitchell Elman, did not specify when.
As per the suspension, Dutrow is denied access to the grounds of any NYRA track, a stipulation that most states also enforce as part of reciprocity.
In New York, stewards have the discretion to review any transfers of horses from a suspended trainer’s barn, and they generally review those transfers for any evidence linking payments to the suspended trainer. Under the order issued Thursday, Dutrow “shall not directly or indirectly participate in any share of purses or other payment.”
The order further states that Dutrow is prohibited from participating in “any arrangements made to care for, train, enter, race, invoice, collect fees or payments, manage funds, employ or insure workers, provide advice or information, or otherwise assist with any aspect of training of the horse.”
Ward has known Dutrow for nearly 30 years, first meeting him when Ward rode as an apprentice for Richard Dutrow Sr.
“Any way I can help him I sure would like to,” Ward, who has 40 horses of his own spread out at three locations in south Florida, said by phone Thursday morning. “As of [Wednesday], I didn’t know a name of an owner or a name of any of his horses; that’ll be a whole process we’ll be going through the next few days or weeks.”
Ward’s assistant, Joe Murphy, flew in from south Florida on Wednesday night to become acquainted with the horses as well as his staff. Murphy is the brother of former Eclipse Award-winning jockey Declan Murphy.
Groomedforvictory and Uncle T Seven, two horses formerly trained by Dutrow, were entered as an uncoupled entry under Ward’s name in Sunday’s $75,000 Turnofthecentury Stakes at Aqueduct.
Vincent Scuderi, who owns Uncle T Seven and two other horses previously trained by Dutrow, said he would wait another week before deciding whether to keep his horses with Ward or move them to other trainers. Scuderi also has horses in New York with Rodriguez and Bruce Levine.
Both Ward and Nevin expressed remorse about the way things turned out.
“I feel really bad for Rick,” Ward said. “This is his whole life. I’m not sure he even realizes what is happening.”
Nevin was rather glum, with the drama of recent weeks – and having worked for Dutrow for 12 years – obviously weighing on her.
“You can’t feel good about it,” she said. “He’s a good guy and a good horseman.”
While Nevin will become a trainer, the future of Dutrow’s longtime New York assistants Ricardo Rosas and Juan Rodriguez was less certain.
Rosas, 45, worked for Dutrow for 12 years. He said he had opportunities to go out on his own before but turned them down to stay with Dutrow.
“I loved working for him,” Rosas said.
Rodriguez, 41, who in past years was listed as the trainer of record when Dutrow served prior suspensions, has worked for Dutrow since the late 1980s.
Rodriguez said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do.
“I don’t know yet. I’ll wait until the last minute to see what’s going on,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not too easy to have this happen to him. It’s hard.”
–- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty and Jay Privman
NOTE: Rick Dutrow, trainer of 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Big Brown, admitted he gave his horses stanozolol — an anabolic steroid — including Big Brown. Dutrow subsequently told ESPN that he did not give Big Brown his regular dose of steroid prior to the Preakness, which the horse lost, failing to take the Triple Crown. Stanozolol is banned in 10 states but not in any of the states where the Triple Crown races are held.
Since then, Dutrow has become a sort of poster boy for drugging racehorses. He is by far not the worst offender. Nearly every top trainer has as many if not more serious doping violations than Dutrow. Not that we are letting him off the hook, so to speak, but it is our opinion that Dutrow is being “punished” for admitting he gave his racehorses drugs, while other more irksome offenders deny, deny, deny.
— U.S. horse racing through a glass darkly; by Vivian Farrell; August 14, 2012
— Dutrow loses horse drugging suspension appeal but that won’t stop him; Tuesday’s Horse; by Vivian Farrell; July 10, 2012
— A lust to win, an incentive to cheat: The stain on American Thoroughbred racing; Tuesday’s Horse; by Jane Allin; May 24, 2012