By: Matt Hegarty
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Otabek Umarov, the trainer who was suspended for 10 years by Kentucky stewards last week for refusing to allow one of his horses to be sampled for drug testing, has filed an appeal of the penalty, according to state officials.
The appeal was filed Friday with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which will be responsible for adjudicating the case. The 10-year license revocation was the most severe penalty handed down by the Kentucky stewards in a decade, and it was believed to be the first penalty assessed under the state’s out-of-competition testing rules, which were adopted in 2010.
Most appeals of racing violations seek a stay of the penalty so that the licensee can continue training while the appeal is heard. Although stays are routinely granted in minor cases, the severity of the penalty in Umarov’s case is likely to be a significant factor for the commission and its legal counsel when weighing whether to grant a stay.
The stewards issued the penalty May 27, approximately one month after Kentucky regulatory officials said that Umarov refused to allow commission personnel to draw a blood sample from a horse he trains and owns, Looks to Spare, while at Churchill Downs. Under out-of-competition testing rules, it is a violation of Kentucky racing regulations to refuse to allow a horse to be sampled, with a minimum penalty of five years.
Kentucky stewards said that Umarov aggravated the case by instructing an employee to remove Looks to Spare from the grounds of Churchill while he was engaged in discussions with commission personnel and the stewards about the request to sample the horse. That employee has also been suspended, pending a hearing.
Umarov claimed Looks to Spare in April 2015 at Hawthorne in Chicago for $5,000. The horse went on to win the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes at Mountaineer Park last August at odds of 74-1 and finished third in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill last November at 89-1. The 6-year-old gelding most recently finished ninth in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap on March 19 following a four-month break.