Suspended from Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, Baffert Being Allowed to Run at Pimlico Highlights Precisely Why HISA Rules Must Be Applied Nationwide.
Washington, D.C. — Animal Wellness Action today expressed sadness and dissatisfaction with the death of Havnameltdown and the injury of jockey Luis Saez at the Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday. The horse was trained by Bob Baffert, whom Churchill Downs had suspended from competition at that Triple Crown venue because of a doping violation in 2021. Medina Spirit crossed the finish line first at the 2021 Derby but the win was later revoked because of a drug violation. Medina Spirit died later that year after a workout at Santa Anita, under Baffert’s watch.
Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, issued the following statement:
“Bob Baffert being allowed to run at Pimlico this year reminds us again of how the long-standing system of promoting track safety for Thoroughbreds and jockeys is broken. If Baffert was rightly excluded from a Triple Crown venue in 2022 and 2023, then that prohibition should have applied to other race venues during that same time period and especially the Triple Crown tracks. This is precisely why there must be a national authority to set rules to keep horses safe. Suspended trainers should not be allowed to cherry pick their venues if they’ve been judged as incapable of keeping their horses safe.”
The Horseracing and Integrity Safety Authority, the national enforcement organization created by Congress under the terms of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, is charged with developing consistent national rules to safeguard horses. Disciplinary actions against trainers by individual tracks and state racing commissions should be applied nationally.
Pacelle added, “It is unfortunate that the Authority’s work has been delayed and that dangerous trainers have been allowed to keep running horses and put them at risk on American racetracks. Perhaps Havnameltdown would be alive today if national rules to protect horse safety had been in place.