A court in Schenectady, N.Y., has granted a request by the trainer Linda Rice for a temporary injunction that will allow her to continue to train as she appeals the license revocation that was made official by New York regulators earlier this week, according to her attorney.
Andrew Turro, the attorney, said that the County of Schenectady Supreme Court approved the request early Wednesday afternoon, two days after the New York Gaming Commission issued the order to revoke Rice’s license and deny her access to racetracks in the state.
“We are very happy about today’s decision,” Turro said. “The court’s order restores Ms. Rice’s ability to get back to racing and training immediately. We also look forward to challenging the commission’s order in the court and ultimately vindicating Ms. Rice’s rights.”
The granting of the temporary injunction was not surprising given the stakes involved and previous New York court rulings on similar actions in the past. In 2011, a court granted a temporary injunction to trainer Rick Dutrow after he was banned for 10 years by the gaming commission, and Dutrow continued to train for two years until his appeals ran out.
Turro had argued in his request for a temporary injunction that the order to revoke Rice’s license would cause “irreparable harm” to Rice’s business.
“In the absence of injunctive relief,” Turro wrote, “Ms. Rice’s training business, the result of a very successful 34-year career, will be irreversibly destroyed before the court can hear this case and determine Ms. Rice’s application for a stay/preliminary injunction.”
The gaming commission revoked Rice’s license based on a hearing officer’s report that concluded Rice had “received regular, continual, and improper access to the confidential names and other information” of horses that were entered to race at tracks operated by the New York Racing Association from a period between late 2011 and early 2015. The report said that the “misconduct was knowingly and intentionally improper.”
Turro had argued during eight days of hearings late last year in front of the hearing officer that the racing office routinely gave out similar information to other trainers, and that the New York Racing Association had no formal rule in place that considered the information she was given at the time to be confidential. The request for a temporary restraining order lays out similar arguments in advocating that Rice will be exonerated in civil court “on the merits of the case.”
Rice has won several training titles at NYRA tracks, and she has finished in the top five in the trainer’s standings on the NYRA circuit each year since 2013. She is also a prolific starter of horses at the NYRA tracks, averaging nearly 500 starts a year at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga over the past four years.
Rice has two horses entered on the Thursday card at Belmont – though both are on the also-eligible list – and three at Belmont on Friday. Barring any action by NYRA, the horses are expected to start.
“NYRA will comply with the temporary restraining order while determining additional options that may be available,” said Patrick McKenna, a spokesman for NYRA, on Wednesday afternoon.