Richard Dutrow, a prize-winning horse trainer who was banned from the sport for drug violations, has lodged a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging he was targeted by a biased official and denied due process (See Complaint). Dutrow, who trained Big Brown to Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories in 2008, was banned from racing in New York for 10 years and fined $50,000. A search of his desk at the Aqueduct Racetrack yielded hypodermic needles containing Xylazine, a muscle relaxer and analgesic, and a horse he was training, Fastus Cactus, tested positive for the painkiller Butorphanol after winning a race in 2008, records show.

The Appellate Division, Third Department, upheld the penalty last year (NYLJ, July 20, 2012) and the Court of Appeals denied leave last month (NYLJ, Jan. 9). In an action filed on Feb. 25, Dutrow argues that state Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini, who is also an officer with the Association of Racing Commissioners (ARCI), "acted in concert" with others to ensure that his license would be revoked. Dutrow claims that the association singled him out and demanded, in a letter to the state board and in a press release, that the Racing and Wagering Board (RWB) initiate a proceeding to revoke his license. "Sabini was both the accuser (through ARCI) and judge and executioner (through the RWB)," according to the complaint in Dutrow v. The New York State Gaming Commission, 13-cv-00996. "Throughout the entire contrived process there was no opportunity for a full and fair hearing on Sabini’s impropriety, and no record was developed in order to ensure that Dutrow’s right to due process was safeguarded."

Dutrow, 53, contends the 10-year suspension amounts to a lifetime ban. There was no comment from the state Gaming Commission, successor to the Racing and Wagering Board. The case has been assigned to Eastern District Judge Sandra Townes (See Profile) and Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes (See Profile).