Hall Of Fame trainer Bob Baffert joins protesting efforts to help get California racing again
While the Los Angeles County Supervisors were contemplating the resumption of live racing at Santa Anita, approximately 100 protestors filled the steps of the County building. Organized by Oscar de la Torre, the crowd was filled with owners, stable personnel, trainers, and the general public. Also in attendance was Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and channels 2,4,7 and 52. The LA Times had a reporter present.
Baffert carried a sign and commented “I haven’t protested since Viet Nam.” Taking time away from his two favorites in the Arkansas Derby, Baffert also gave a speech to the crowd that was happy to see him in attendance.
Santa Anita had turned in a lengthy proposal to the Board more than a week ago. Santa Anita was seeking to resume “spectatorless” racing and presented a strong case. Perhaps the central point was the fact that there have been no cases of Covid-19 at the track. It was also pointed out that Los Alamitos, currently carrying on live races, has also been free of any Covid-19 cases.
Obviously, the health and welfare of the backstretch employees is a major talking point. Money from racing funds the health clinics on site for workers and their families. More than 750 employees not only work in the shed rows, they live at Santa Anita also. De la Torre pointed out that the workers love the horses and tending to the horses is a culture and way of life. It is also how they put their kids through school.
The crowd chanted “bring us back” and “let them race” with enthusiasm and waved their signs at passing cars. Due to the quarantine, Downtown Los Angeles was a virtual ghost town. The County Board of Supervisors were still meeting as the protestors left the scene not knowing if or when racing might resume at the Great Race Place. All indications are that May 15 will be the day racing might resume, but like everything else these days, it could change in an instant.