New CHRB member could change way of horse racing board

In numerous means, Thomas Hudnut, the most recent member of the California Horse Racing Board, has the excellent credentials to be part of the regulatory agency tasked with reforming racing in California.

As the longtime head of Harvard-Westlake, the uber-wealthy personal school in Studio Metropolis, he is very acquainted dealing with individuals utilised to receiving their individual way and owning to figure out how to convince them if not.

He walks in as the possible swing vote on a board that has shaped two camps over how to retain racing going in California in the facial area of vocal opposition.

Just one group, led by Vice Chairman Oscar Gonzales and such as Wendy Mitchell and Brenda Washington Davis, would seem keen to use steps such as shortening licenses and raising penalties for protection concerns. The other group is in favor of slower alter and a gentle touch when dealing with the tracks and involves Chairman Greg Ferraro, Dennis Alfieri and Alex Solis. Damascus Castellanos was the ideological middle, though he tended to vote with the latter team.

Hudnut replaces Solis, who has moved to Kentucky and asked not to be reappointed. Solis was the most opposed to considerable improve and embraced the standing quo. That close of the spectrum possible will be crammed by Alfieri, who in the December meeting praised The Stronach Team with how it handled the fatality crisis at Santa Anita in 2019, even however the keep track of refused a CHRB ask for to close in close proximity to the close of its conference.

Due to the fact the spike in deaths was initial noted by The Instances and grew to become a nationwide story, TSG has changed some senior monitor executives and become a nationwide leader in reform and security measures, dramatically decreasing fatalities at Santa Anita.

Hudnut would not comment on any pending challenges other than becoming a member of the board in its unanimous aid of Dr. Jeff Blea, the equine clinical director at present on administrative depart after acquiring his license suspended by the state veterinary board around alleged minor violations when he was in non-public observe.

Hudnut was both recruited and held his hand up for the appointment from Gov. Gavin Newsom. Amid people that had been backing his appointment had been Jack Liebau of Los Alamitos and Roger Licht, former chair of the CHRB.

Los Alamitos was the topic of the kind of license scrutiny that has divided the board in late 2020 when Gonzales, Washington Davis and Mitchell voted for a six-month license rather than the yr the keep track of had usually been specified. Mainly because only six commissioners ended up in attendance — Solis was lacking — the vote 2 times ended in a tie, meaning the keep track of had no license. Alfieri and Castellanos came about to the side of the shorter license just so the observe could keep open up. When the full commission fulfilled the upcoming month, the 6-month license was overturned and Los Alamitos was granted a yearlong license on a 4-3 vote.

It underscores why Hudnut may perhaps keep the important to long term steps of the board. He however requires Senate confirmation but can provide until that time. His very first assembly is Thursday, perhaps the very last just one to be held by teleconference just before the board returns to in-man or woman conferences.

“The case can be built for California that it is the national leader in drug screening, horse and rider safety,” Hudnut reported. “Just search at the facts more than the last 3 many years.”

Hudnut, 74, joins Castellanos, Gonzales and Mitchell as registered Democrats. Alfieri and Washington Davis are registered Republicans and Ferraro has no celebration affiliation.

Hudnut has a sturdy qualifications in horse racing having been a fractional proprietor for many a long time. Among the trainers he has used are Richard Baltas, Phil D’Amato, Neil Drysdale and Brian Lynch. He presently owns no horses.

He started out as a wrangler in Colorado in his teenagers. His appreciate of horses extends past thoroughbreds.

“I’ve experienced a lifelong affection for horses and the drive to do correct by them,” he mentioned.

Hudnut admits to have not listened to a lot of board meetings these days, so he might be shocked when even the most benign items bring about robust general public comment.

Between the points commonly brought up at meetings by animal legal rights advocates is that board users retain racing alive to line their own pockets and retain their careers on the board.

Commissioners are paid out $100 a month.