Baffert: Racing needs 'immediate and drastic' federal action

Baffert: Racing needs 'immediate and drastic' federal action
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, perhaps the most well-known figure in American horse racing, had a change of heart this week after 27 connected to the industry were indicted as part of a wide-ranging doping scandal.

In an op-ed column in The Washington Post, Baffert announced said he now supports passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act.

"Horse racing is experiencing the most profound crisis in the long history of the sport," Baffert wrote. "To emerge stronger, we must act decisively to protect the horses who are the stars of the show; nothing else will restore the confidence of fans, gamblers and the general public. And that means federal action."

The Horseracing Integrity Act would create a national, independent horse racing anti-doping authority.

Baffert wrote that he hadn't supported the HIA until now because he was uncertain whether adding new federal regulations to the industry would create more burdens than benefits.

"However," he wrote, "these federal indictments have convinced me that horse racing needs immediate and drastic action to fix a broken system."

Noting that the industry has 38 state racing jurisdictions, and that each has its own regulatory body, he wrote that it's important to develop national policies that align with international standards and rules.

The bill has bipartisan support and is making progress, but "Congress needs to pick up the pace," Baffert wrote.

"These federal indictments clearly show that a patchwork of 38 separate regulatory bodies doesn't work and that the losers are horses and all those who love this grand sport."

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