Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert says that if racing's climate doesn't improve in California, he could move his barn out of state.
Racing at Santa Anita has been shut down since March 27, when the LA County Department of Public Health deemed it a nonessential business.
Baffert told Flatter that "we're just not getting the help that we would like to get from the state." He, as with other southern California trainers, has made a habit of shipping horses this spring to Oaklawn Park, which continued racing behind closed doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These next couple weeks, if Santa Anita doesn’t open up soon, it’s going to get be hard to get those horses to come back,” Baffert told Flatter. “I’m going to stay here in California, but eventually if there’s nobody to run against it’s going to be tough. That’s what I’m afraid of.”
Recent developments are in addition to last year's struggles as equine safety put in question at Santa Anita Park, where Baffert stables his horses most of the year.
Baffert noted with Flatter that other states' subsidies -- via slot machines and historical horse racing machines -- have also pushed their purses beyond what California tracks offer
The 67-year-old is a two-time Triple Crown winner with five Kentucky Derby victories, one short of the all-time record. He has called California home since switching from Quarter Horse to Thoroughbred training and beginning a swift ascent to the top of the sport.
Baffert told Flatter that his clientele is located back east, and that should he move out of state, he would not keep a string in California, saying that "you have to be all in. I'm not quite there yet."