Letter To The Editor: NYRA Stands Firm As Its 'Right Of Exclusion' Is Tested - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Letter To The Editor: NYRA Stands Firm As Its ‘Right Of Exclusion’ Is Tested

I have been heralding a racetrack's right of exclusion throughout my career. This court tested policy enables track management the right to deny an individual the privilege to race if the individual's participation is deemed to be a detriment to the best business interest of the facility.

The implementation of this policy is critical to horse racing's ability to regain the public trust that has been waning for decades. Our regulators charged with maintaining the integrity of racing have failed and, in many instances, outright refused to implement rules, seriously damaging the public perception of our sport.

Kudos to the New York Racing Association (NYRA) as they have implemented their right of exclusion barring Bob Baffert from participating at any of their facilities.  This could be the watershed moment that can turn the tide in racing's demise.

In 2018 Justify the Triple Crown winner tested positive in the Santa Anita Derby for scopolamine, a banned human medication.  Long after the unprecedented surreptitious investigation the drug violation was declared an environmental poisoning, a determination applied to medication irregularities for this trainer in the past.

The scandal did not come to light for over a year until a New York Times investigation unearthed the failure of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to follow equine drug positive investigative protocols.  In recent weeks, the Washington Post via documents acquired through a freedom of information request have detailed the scope of corrupt CHRB actions enabling an ineligible horse to enter and win the Kentucky Derby.

Medina Spirit's betamethasone positive in this year's Kentucky Derby is the second incident involving illicit medication issues in the Kentucky Derby since 2018, both under the care and supervision of the same trainer.

These incidents exponentially support the need for racetrack's right of exclusion policy and more importantly the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Authority.

The Medina Spirit incident appears to be the straw that broke the horse's back.  Taking into consideration recent medication irregularities, NYRA and Churchill Downs exerted their right of exclusion barring Bob Baffert from racing at their facilities.

Mr. Baffert has decided on legal action to test the court approved right of exclusion policy citing the 14th Amendment due process rights, also noting the irreparable damage to his reputation.

Courageously, NYRA is steadfast in their commitment to exclude Mr. Baffert, notifying the court of a motion to dismiss his lawsuit and also noting that the irreparable damage to his reputation was self-inflicted.

We need the horse racing gods to set the court on the right path supporting the right of exclusion.

–Arthur Gray is a longtime horseman, steward and integrity consultant from West Seneca, N.Y.

If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please write to info at paulickreport.com and include contact information where you may be reached if editorial staff have any questions.

Additional stories about Baffert's Kentucky Derby positive and ensuing legal battles can be found here.

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