Trainer Bob Baffert, who was fined $500 by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for incidents involving security guards at this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), said he would like for Churchill Downs to have security personnel who recognize horsemen positioned in key areas, such as the paddock.
"There's not enough credentials for owners every year; I know they're tight. But the security in the paddock is becoming like overkill," Baffert said. "They need to put the right people (security) who know the horsemen in the right places."
Baffert said he and a representative of one of the owners for whom he trains had discussed the matter with Churchill president Steve Sexton. "He assured me he's going to look into the situation and see if there's something that can be done to fix things," Baffert said.
According to KHRA chief steward John Veitch, Baffert was involved in an incident in the paddock runway as the Derby starters were being led over from the backstretch. The second incident, according to Veitch, involved one of Baffert's Derby guests, Olympic skier Bode Miller, when Baffert saw Miller would not be permitted in the paddock before the Derby. Both security officers are retired Lexington, Ky., policemen.
Baffert said the incidents were a result of members in his group being denied access to the paddock, including rude behavior by a security guard toward one of his owners.
"There was no altercation, no pushing and shoving or anything like that," Baffert said. "I know I was out of line with the way I acted with the one security guard, and I'm going to make it a point to apologize to him, but (the security guard) was also out of line. It was bad timing and the heat of the moment.
"I love Churchill Downs and I love the Derby. But every year (with tightened security), it's getting harder and harder."
Baffert-trained Point Determined and Bob and John finished ninth and 17th, respectively, in this year's Derby.