Veitch appeals dismissal

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- John Veitch, the former state steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission who was fired on Monday, filed an appeal of his dismissal on Wednesday with the Kentucky Personnel Board, contending that he has been discriminated against because of his age and that the state violated his rights by failing to provide a cause for his dismissal.

The appeal, which was provided by Veitch's attorney, claims that Veitch should be considered a "classified" employee under Kentucky's law. As a classified employee, the appeal states, Veitch should have been provided with cause for his dismissal, along with a notice of the state's intent to dismiss him, and, if he requested, a hearing to discuss the cause.

Veitch, 66, also states in the appeal that he believes the state discriminated against him because of his age, a contention that would entitle him to an appeal of the dismissal. In addition, the appeal states that Veitch was "illegally terminated for asserting my statutory and constitutional rights to defend myself in an action brought against me by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission."

The last assertion is a reference to a three-day hearing conducted in early July after the commission found cause to charge Veitch with multiple violations of the state's racing rules in an incident involving Life At Ten in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic. Life At Ten was eased in the race and finished last after her jockey, John Velazquez, commented to television commentators shortly before the race that the filly was "not warming up like she normally does."

Veitch vigorously defended himself during the hearing on charges that he should have ordered veterinarians to examine Life At Ten after Velazquez made the comments. The commission's attorneys also sought to establish that Veitch had a duty to scratch Life At Ten at the gate and order the filly to the test barn after the race.

The appeal contains a copy of the letter that Veitch was provided when he was dismissed on Monday. The letter says that Veitch's services "are no longer needed," and that the "action is being taken without cause, therefore you do not have the right to appeal your dismissal."