Trainer Bob Baffert has released the following statement through the firm of Conover, Tuttle, concerning his acceptance of a $50,000 appearance fee to run War Emblem in the Haskell Invitational Handicap:
The decision to enter War Emblem in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park was made independent of the appearance fee paid to me by the NewJersey Sports and Exposition Authority. The decision to enter the horse was made by Richard Mulhall, manager of the Thoroughbred Corporation, and me after we discussed options for the horse over several weeks.
I am concerned that the nature of the appearance fee has been
mischaracterized and that some might perceive that the fee influenced our decision to enter. Upon additional discussion with the Thoroughbred
Corporation, we have decided that half of the fee will be donated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in memory of
Prince Ahmed bin Salman.
Fees for public appearances and other promotional work are common in other sports. In consultation with my clients, I will continue to accept these fees in the future where warranted.