Bobby Zen

The New York State Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday which says that the disqualification of Forte from the 2022 Hopeful Stakes and the 10-day suspension given to trainer Todd Pletcher must remain at the Supreme Court level, and not be transferred to the appelate division. Judge Michael Cuevas wrote that the court found procedural and legal issues in the process that must be addressed by this court.

The ruling was in response to a motion filed by the Gaming Commission seeking to move the appeal of the Forte disqualification and his suspension to the appellate division. That motion was in response to Pletcher’s request for a review of the New York Gaming Commission’s order disqualifying the horse and suspending him.

Forte was disqualified from the Hopeful after post-race tests turned up the presence of meloxicam. Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, widely prescribed to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and is sold under the brand name Mobic. It is not one of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories that is approved in the United States for the treatment of racehorses in training.

Pletcher’s petition argued several points; first, that he was found to have violated a rule that doesn’t exist; that he was found liable based upon a standard outside of the Commission’s rules; that the text of the rule is impermissibly vague; and that an attorney for the second-place horse, Gulfport, owned by William Heiligbrodt, was allowed to intervene in the hearing, and co-prosecute Pletcher, despite not being a duly licensed attorney in the State of New York. That attorney was Clark Brewster.

“This Court can only conclude that Petitioner has demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success on the alleged due process violations and the alleged misinterpretation of existing rules or application of a non-existent rule,” the judge wrote.

“We are very pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to allow us to litigate what we believe are serious due process issues in this case,” said Pletcher’s attorney, Drew Mollica. “We are also elated that the Supreme Court has taken the position that they will review the alleged zero-tolerance standard by which the Gaming Commission saw fit to unjustly disqualify Forte and sanction Mr. Petcher. While it’s early, the issues raised, including the participation of an unlicensed attorney to assist in prosecuting this matter, is something we look forward to litigating, and must be addressed.”

“Judge Cuevas has flagged these procedural legal issues before any appellate review,” Mollica continued. “The procedural and legal issues will prove that not only should Forte not have been disqualified, but that any sanction of Mr. Pletcher is a miscarriage of justice.”

This story will be updated.

The post Pletcher Wins Round in Supreme Court Over Forte DQ appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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