A short overview about the basic legal framework for Equine Regulatory Law --- the U.S. Constitution. Appropriately, the chapter refers to some of racing's heroes (such as jockey Paul Ryan in photo at left) who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II to defend the freedoms enshrined in our still much-used Constitution.
Photo Cedit: Daily Racing Form, LLC
How does your typical equine regulatory law case get started? In the stewards' office, usually, (see photo), with a hearing in which the final outcome could be ultimately determined by a state's highest court. Or even by the U.S. Supreme Court. See a legal flow chart in this elementary chapter for virtually all equine law cases and how these cases move through either a state or federal court system. Find out, too, how to do your own basic legal research... even if you are not a lawyer!
What were the origins of equine regulatory law in the United States? This sub-set legal specialty of equine law began in 1896 when a high-stakes gambler (and reputed race-fixer) Charles "Riley" Grannan (photo) was denied admission to New York City's Morris Park. See how New York's highest court dealt with the innovative legal arguments advanced by the attorneys for Mr. Grannan. Read the fascinating account of how, during this same time period, August Belmont saved thoroughbred racing in New York (and, arguably, throughout the entire country) with the passage by the New York legislature of the far-sighted Percy-Gray Act, which established for the first time the concept of a racing commission to regulate the sport.
How racing laws are made. As one cynic once famously said: "There are two things people should never see actually being made --- sausage and laws." It's actually not that gruesome a process (the laws that are made, that is) if, as this chapter helpfully points out, one understands the process. Before the courts can rule on equine regulatory law disputes, the judges have to have a basic statute, regulation, or "Rule of Racing" before them. This key chapter lays out how the legislative branch works in a racing law context.
Photo Cedit: KY LRC
Horse racing's not-so-silent partner. How do these "commissions" work exactly? How does one get to be a member of such a commission? What are the rights and responsibilities of commission members? What are the limits of those rights and responsibilities? How have courts interpreted the parameters of a racing commission's duties? Inquiring minds want to know and can learn the answers to all of these tantalizing questions in Equine Regulatory Law's Chapter 5.
The granddaddy of them all --- how the Kentucky Court of Appeals decided the final outcome of the 1968 Kentucky Derby. It's all right here, the high drama, the pathos, the embattled owner, the valiant horse (Dancer's image), the stewards, the group of racing commissioners that heard the case for three long weeks, and the judges who made the final call. With what was at stake, Fuller is easily the most compelling single case in all of Equine Regulatory Law. See how owner Peter Fuller's (at far left in photo) quest "to clear (his) horse's good name" led to significant changes and reforms in horse racing in general and equine law in particular, a result that was far from anticipated when the case began.
Photo Cedit: The Blood-Horse
Sounds like a pretty clear-cut, slam dunk legal term. No ambiguity here . . . or is there? There have been literally hundreds of cases in the United States arguing in each and every one of them about the finer points of this seemingly all-or-nothing legal principle (that a trainer of record is "absolutely responsible" for the condition of her/his horse regardless of actual knowledge or fault). These are the drug cases that consume the lion's share of the work in the field of equine regulatory law. See how Courts in 13 different racing states across the country have resolved differing interpretations of this rule beginning in 1948 with the landmark California Supreme Court case Sandstrom v. California Horse Racing Board with a thoroughly-comprehensive majority opinion written by Justice John W. Shenk (photo). A very timely chapter given the ongoing debate in the United States about permitted (or not) race-day medication for horses.
What is an "undesirable?" For 60 years, American courts have wrestled with the finer points of defining this catch-all term. It was Spencer Drayton's (photo) job one, on a national scale, to find, remove, or even prosecute the shadowy members of racing's underworld. His Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau (TRPB), modeled after the FBI, first set about its ambitious plan to clean up racing in the late 1940's. State and federal courts were generally supportive (when some of the undesirables legally fought back), with some notable exceptions as this chapter illustrates.
If "undesirables" were --- legally speaking --- relatively easy pickings because of their unlicensed status, what about similarly "undesired" but licensed individuals (like jockey Robert J. Martin, photo) who worked in and around racetracks, but who found themselves "ruled off?" What are their legal rights versus the long-established "inherent" right of racetracks to eject any one for virtually any reason, licensed or not? This important chapter explains how federal and state courts have examined these issues with a particular emphasis on some recent, potentially trend-setting decisions.
Sometimes the "official" sign after a horse race is only the start of a legal proceeding challenging that very "official" result. When the wrong numbers get put up (like after the race at the old Miles Park in Louisville in 1974, see photo finish, left) or taken down (after a race at Saratoga in 1986), who is responsible? Do losing (but actually winning) bettors have any recourse at all? What about when racing officials don't do their jobs and ineligible horses are entered and win? Do courts have any legal authority to change the outcome of a race after it was declared "official?" In a number of intriguing cases presented in this chapter, see how the judges, both state and federal, wrestled with these issues.
Open up a racetrack and invite the public to become your customers and fan base. Inevitably, some of those patrons will become injured either through their own negligence (see photo at left of some gentlemen frolicking dangerously in the Churchill Downs infield Turf Club on Derby Day), or because of the fault of track management. Read how Courts have resolved who was at fault in varying fact situations (no two are alike, of course). Try to learn from the mistakes other tracks have made or by decisions they did not make.
Photo Cedit: Ryan Armbrust, SniperPhotography.com
“The Most Dangerous Job In The World”
That is how one prominent vocational authority classified the occupation of professional jockeys --- who risk life and limb every time they get a leg up on a horse. When injured or killed riders subsequently sue, what are their (or their estate's) realistic chances for any success? Since the job is so obviously hazardous, do riders have a legal leg to stand on?
As this chapter shows, the law in this field has certainly evolved since the 1950's when 17-year-old apprentice jockey Lester Brokaw (photo at left) was killed in a spill on the last night of the inaugural meeting at Cahokia Downs and an Illinois appellate court eventually ruled that he (and, by inference, all riders) had virtually no redress for what happened to him in the course of the running of a horse race.
Photo Cedit: St. Louis Post - Dispatch
A lot of fine print, but a pretty simple, straightforward document, right? Au contraire, mon ami. See in this chapter how significant and wide-ranging legal battles --- especially in federal courts --- have been waged over the legal ramifications of the language in your standard, garden-variety stall application. Discover how the esoteric concepts of "state action," "close nexus," and "symbiotic relation" all weave a multi-layered tapestry of legal conundrums for courts, not racing secretaries, to resolve.
"No foot, no horse." Similarly, a corollary to that old horseman's maxim would be "No dates, no track." This chapter underscores the importance, it cannot be over-emphasized, of a racetrack's obtaining, on an annual basis, its precious racing dates from its racing commission.
For the older generation of racing fans, the vital importance of obtaining racing dates was never better illustrated than by the epic battles waged, over three successive generations of track owners, between South Florida's Gulfstream Park and Hialeah. This chapter sets out to highlight what went wrong and what went right for each track as they battled to obtain the most lucrative dates on the South Florida racing schedule. Every one of the court battles, conducted almost annually from 1968-1985, were as extremis as the death struggle between Judah Ben-Hur and his bitter rival, Messala. (photo). See what consequences these cases had for other tracks locked in similar date’s conflicts in other states. More importantly, learn how to avoid these kinds of pitched battles. There are consequences, perhaps fatal ones, if you don't. Just ask the people who used to work or race at Hialeah.
"To thine own self, be true ". . . right? What happens when racing's own management employees are accused of breaking the rules (of racing)? Who regulates the regulators? Read and absorb the sometimes legally painful lessons some racetracks had to learn the hard way, as determined, as always, by the courts.
Photo Cedit: Don Neiman Photography
We end the book where we started --- with the U.S. Constitution. Truly, here is the new frontier in equine regulatory law cases in the United States. From the First Amendment (free speech) clashes between jockeys and regulators over the right to wear advertising on their riding pants (whites), to Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) struggles over the "right to privacy" of backstretch workers living in racetrack-owned dormitories, it is all right here in glorious color. See how the U.S. Constitution's precious Bill of Rights intersects with all manner of regulatory issues in horse racing --- and precisely how the (primarily) federal courts parse these fundamental rights in balancing the competing claims of all sides to these, at times, momentous conflicts.
Photo Cedit: Barbara D. Livingston