They say justice is blind. I don’t know, maybe it is. In the case of Rick Dutrow it is injustice which is blind, deaf and dumb.
Rick Dutrow has served 7 out of 10 years of a suspension levied against him. Throughout that time he has conducted himself as nothing short of a gentleman while exhausting every legal remedy to get justice and clear his name. Despite proven facts in his favor, and some at best questionable conduct on the part of his accusers, nobody with the power to do something about it has stepped up. They have knowingly allowed an injustice that ruined a mans life and livelihood to stand. Even if we were to assume all that was alleged was true, which is very much disputed, the punishment was not consistent with similar and even worse violations.
I am not going to address old news. Those who wanted to learn the facts, as opposed to the hype and innuendos know full well Rick Dutrow has three, not multiple drug violations. If you want those facts, and to learn about who Rick Dutrow is as a horseman, you can read this previous Past the Wire article.
Let us cut to the chase. We all know it was as much Rick’s personality rubbing some powerful people in racing the wrong way, along with the need for a poster boy scapegoat to show racing was being cleaned up, that really led to his 10 year ban. After all, it became common knowledge winstrol, an anabolic steroid, was being used. It was legal at the time. Many barns used it. Rick Dutrow won the Kentucky Derby, announced he used it, and called people babe. That’s about it. The laundry list of so called violations is three that are drug related. The rest, administrative. As for the cleaning up of racing, any of you are free to tell me how that worked out.
Today I read a letter from a former New York Alternate Steward and New York State Steward to the New York State Gaming Commission. The contents of said letter shocked me enough to prompt a conversation with the author, Mr. Stephen Lewandowski, now retired. Mr. Lewandowski served 19 years. During that time he wrote every ruling that went down. He is more than familiar with who did what, what punishments were levied, and how things were handled.
To be clear what shocked me was not the allegations in the letter. It was the fact that the current people in a position to do something about it, just don’t care to.
Here is a quote from the letter:
“I have detailed knowledge of this case, as I was the alternate steward at the time. Believe me when I state emphatically that – his penalties for which he received ten years and a 50,000.00 fine do not equal the infractions that occurred. It was obvious and still is that this was a personal issue against Mr. Dutrow which did not merit the punishment he has received. When discussing Mr. Dutrow’s case during my time as the State Steward, Mr. Braulio Baeza, Jr, the NYRA Steward at the time and recently appointed NYS State Steward, has told myself and the Jockey Club Steward on numerous occasions that the evidence against Mr. Dutrow was planted as NYRA was also involved in the barn search of Mr. Dutrow’s barn.“
The letter was not only sent to the commission, but also to the Queens County District Attorney’s office and two current NYRA board members.
We get treated to a lot of talk about integrity in our sport. We hear about transparency. We hear about making the game better. We hear a lot, but what do we actually see?
When I spoke with Mr. Lewandowski he told me all the stewards were present for this conversation, and that this conversation was not the only one. It was common knowledge what happened, and according to Mr. Lewandowski they all just let it stand. No investigation. No reinstatement. No time served. Nothing, a man’s life was left in ruins. Unjustly, and they know it.
The letter goes on to say this:
“When Mr. Dutrow was in discussions with the Commission in 2017 about reinstatement, Mr. Dutrow was advised that if he were to pay his $50,000.00 fine that this would help pave the way to his reinstatement. As you well know, the Commission did not reinstate him after having taken the fine and this is something which is unbelievably cruel as Mr. Dutrow has filed bankruptcy and has little to nothing. I know the money is owed and would have to be paid in order to get reinstated. This just demonstrates the animosity against Mr. Dutrow. When you use your authority against a licensee to this extent, this is a gross miscarriage of justice to him and the the racing industry as a whole. In this case, every individual involved with the decision to keep Mr. Dutrow out of racing is complicit. “
Let us be clear here, and please put yourself in Mr. Dutrow’s position if just even for a moment. You have been bankrupted, your dreams shattered, taken away, after a life of hard work towards your goals, and you are fighting for a second chance. The very people who took it all from you literally shake you down for another $50,000.00 that they know you don’t have and have to borrow and scrape together.
Many wise people have said to allow injustice and to do nothing about it is as bad as doing injustice yourself.
Rick Dutrow told me himself he was led to believe if he paid the $50,000.00 fine it would go a long way to his being reinstated. Does anyone believe that now?
Mr. Lewandowski told me if Rick Dutrow was in possession of what was alleged a $1,000.00 fine would have been the norm. He advised during his tenure there were multiple people caught with syringes. Never did it result in an immediate action and suspension. There was always an investigation. The contents were always determined first. Under today’s policies, when we are supposed to be coming down hard on drug violators, everyone is given a second chance. He is retired, says he has no axe to grind, and is only seeking what is fair. I believe him.
The parties who handled this are all gone now. It is out of their hands. The ones there now are the ones who should step up, or share the guilt. Before they talk about integrity, they have an order to rescind.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Martin Luther King, Jr.