Santa Anita shakes up senior management

John Cherwa
·2 min read
ARCADIA, CALIF. -- FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019: Santa Anita Race 6 is off out of the gate as Santa Anita opening day resumes racing at Santa Anita Horse Park in Arcadia, Calif., on March 29, 2019. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
A Santa Anita race is off out of the gate as opening day resumes racing at Santa Anita Park on March 29, 2019. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Stronach Company is shaking up its senior management at Santa Anita once again by promoting Aidan Butler to chief operating officer and sending him to Florida and adding West Coast oversight to the portfolio of Craig Fravel, the group’s chief executive officer for racing.

The moves were announced Thursday. A Stronach spokesperson said an announcement would be made soon as to who would have oversight of the day-to-day operations at the Arcadia track. Nate Newby, a senior vice president and assistant general manager, has been doing some of those functions recently. There is no general manager. Amy Zimmerman, the other senior vice president, has spent most of her time at Santa Anita working on the broadcast side and runs XBTV.

“While I focus on the East Coast racing operations, I will continue to assist with matters in California and to work closely with horsemen in the state,” Butler said. The Stronach Group owns Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows in South Florida and Laurel Park and Pimlico in Maryland.

Baffert attorney disputes report

An attorney for trainer Bob Baffert disputed a report in the New York Times that Gamine tested positive for a banned substance after a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks on Sept. 4. It would be the second time that Gamine has tested positive this year. In May, the 3-year-old filly tested positive after running in an allowance race at Oaklawn Park.

“The current reporting on Gamine is inaccurate and needs to be cleared up,” said W. Craig Robertson, a Kentucky-based attorney for Baffert. “Betamethasone is a legal, commonly used anti-inflammatory medication. It is not a ‘banned substance.’”

According to Robertson, Gamine was administered the drug 18 days before the Oaks. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission guidelines say a horse should not be given the drug less than 14 days before racing to avoid a positive test.

However, Robertson seemed to back up the claim of a positive test by saying that Gamine had 27 picograms, a trillionth of a gram, in the test sample. The limit in Kentucky is 10 picograms.

Baffert, who like all trainers is responsible for the condition of a horse regardless of involvement, could face a suspension and possible forfeiture of the $120,000 purse Gamine won in the race. The Kentucky regulatory body would decide that after holding a hearing at an unspecified date.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.