TRAINER AMBER COBB SUMMARILY SUSPENDED
Trainer Amber Cobb – already hit with a 60-day suspension in an animal cruelty case – was summarily suspended by the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission’s stewards September 10.
According to Delaware regulations, the stewards may impose a summary suspension on a licensee if they “determine that a licensee’s actions constitute an immediate danger to the public health, safety or welfare.”
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In such a case, the suspended person is entitled to a hearing within three racing days of the suspension, though the purpose of that hearing is merely to determine whether the suspension should remain in place “pending a final disciplinary hearing and ruling.” All stewards’ decisions are appealable to the Commission.
The stewards’ ruling cites “multiple dates” on which Cobb allegedly violated the state’s racing rules and a variety of rules which she is alleged to have broken.
Among other things, the rules cited in the ruling forbid:
- Disorderly conduct, including fighting, using profanity, or being intoxicated on the grounds;
- Possession of needles, syringes or any “other device which could be used to administer any substance to a horse”;
- Cruelty to or neglect of a horse;
- Employment of “unauthorized persons.”
While specifying the rules in question, however, the ruling does not provide any further narrative of the ways in which the stewards believe Cobb to have violated Delaware’s regulations.
Cobb, 33, earlier had received a two-year suspension from the stewards, but on appeal the Commission itself reduced it to a 60-day suspension.
That suspension came as a result of a video, shot earlier in the year in New Jersey, brought to the stewards by a former employee of Cobb’s. The video shows a horse tethered to the wall of her stall while a woman shouts obscenities and brandishes a plastic pitchfork. Eventually, the horse rears and falls to the ground.
While the stewards saw the video as a straightforward example of animal cruelty, the Commission reduced their initial decision, saying that the accuser – a former groom named Lisa Whittaker – seemed “to not be a credible witness,” as Commissioner Ed Stegemeier put it.
Given that the case occasioned by the video has been adjudicated, the new stewards’ ruling presumably stems from new incidents and/or new information that has come to light.
Cobb, who has not had a starter since July 21, had posted five wins from 64 starts this year, three of those wins having come at Delaware Park. In her career she has saddled 83 winners from 872 starters, according to Equibase.