Rick Baedeker, since 2014 the executive director of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), has confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that he intends to retire from that role before the spring. Baedeker was an executive at Hollywood Park prior to joining the CHRB.
The last 11 months have been especially difficult for Baedeker, as horse fatalities skyrocketed at Santa Anita over the winter, forcing the cancellation of racing for a time. The tide seemed to have turned when there were no catastrophic events over the course of the Del Mar meeting, but seven horses perished during the fall stand at Santa Anita, none more glaring than the death of Mongolian Groom (Hightail) following the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Additionally, California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has called for a cessation of racing, while Governor Gavin Newsom has also been critical of the sport and of the CHRB itself for perceived conflicts of interest.
The Times reports that with the likely resignation of CHRB Vice Chairman Madeline Auerbach and with Commissioner Fred Maas reportedly declining to be reappointed, Newsom will have the opportunity to structure the board as he desires.
The CHRB also came under fire for its handling–or mishandling–of an apparent scopolamine positive involving 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy).
Baedeker told the Times that he made the decision this past July and added that he was in good health.