Rice Hearings Conclude, But No Ruling Expected Soon

The marathon that has been the hearing regarding trainer Linda Rice and the New York State Gaming Commission came to a close Dec. 9, but it will still be weeks before there is a conclusion in the case. Attorneys from both sides have requested transcripts from the previous six days of testimony and will be given 30 days after receipt of those transcripts to send written closing arguments to hearing officer Clark Petschek. There are numerous and voluminous exhibits in the case submitted by both sides which Petschek also must review before issuing a decision. Petschek did not outline a timeframe for when he may issue a ruling.

The proceedings had sought to determine what, if any, sanctions would be imposed on Rice, who the commission says could have her license suspended or revoked and face fines of up to $25,000 for “actions inconsistent with and detrimental to the best interest of racing generally and corrupt and improper acts and practices in relation to racing.”

Much of Wednesday’s testimony was a retread of information previously given by Rice during examination by her attorneys and other witnesses, seeking detail and clarification on the information Rice received from entry clerks between the 2011-12 Aqueduct meet and March 2015. Rice has admitted to receiving faxed and emailed printouts showing names and past performance information for horses before draw time, which the commission believes gave her an unfair advantage over other trainers. Rice contends that it was not unusual for trainers to be shown name or past performance information ahead of draw time in the racing office, or to have the basics of a potential rival’s resume described to them on the phone.

Her testimony Wednesday examined a number of daily training logs for horses in her care during the time in question and identified races she had noted as targets for those individuals after the release of the condition book. Rice’s attorney took the trainer through the dates and results of a few of those races alongside dates and times of emails she received with entry information from racing clerk Jose Morales. In the cases highlighted by her attorney, Rice had identified several target races for her horses before Morales gave her information and did not change her targets after receiving entry information from Morales.

Although Rice has said previously that she wasn’t aware she was breaking any rules, it appears there did come a time when she became concerned that taking the information could get her into trouble. Rick Goodell, counsel for the commission, read into the record a transcript of a 2018 interview he conducted with Rice in which she recalled the moment she began to have concerns about her receipt of information from Morales. Rice recalls that in 2014 Morales told her he was “being watched” and she told Goodell in 2018 her thought was, “Damn, well, they’re watching him. Maybe we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Goodell also asked Rice whether she revealed to anyone else, other trainers or racing office employees, that she was getting the information from Morales. She answered she had not.

The passing of information from Morales to Rice came out after the racing office and law enforcement near Belmont discovered that Morales had given out his InCompass login information to a number of jockey agents in return for money.

Wednesday’s testimony also revealed that Rice had hired rider Israel Rodriguez to ride several races for her when he was an apprentice. Rodriguez would eventually be represented by Morales as agent, although Morales is no longer licensed as a jockey agent in New York. Rice said she had forgotten she had hired Rodriguez, who rode a little more than two dozen races for her before she said he lost his apprentice weight allowance and she determined he was not of a caliber she wanted to work with as a journeyman.

Goodell tried to establish whether Rice believed the information she got through email and fax constituted an unfair advantage over other trainers who weren’t privy to the same information. While Rice admitted that it could sometimes be helpful to know which horses were entered in a race in advance of draw time, she was not convinced that other trainers were not receiving similar or comparable information.

“When the article came out in the press about the proceedings, I spoke to other trainers and many of them said they receive information all the time as well,” Rice said.

The post Rice Hearings Conclude, But No Ruling Expected Soon appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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