Darby Dan Farm’s John Phillips Joins WHOA

by | 09.06.2016 | 8:03am
John Phillips of Darby Dan Farm

John Phillips is a third-generation horseman who oversees the historic family owned Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Ky. He also manages Phillips Racing Partnership, which has campaigned several Grade I performers, including Breeders' Cup winner and Eclipse Champion Soaring Softly and current Grade I winner Winter Memories.

Phillips has served the industry in a number of positions and on a number of boards. Currently, he is a member of The Jockey Club and serves as a director of The Jockey Club Information Systems. He is a member of TOBA, having served on the Executive Committee of that organization for several years. John is on the Board of Directors of Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. He served on the Kentucky State Racing Commission from 2012 to 2016. He is a past director of the Thoroughbred Club of America, the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, the Board of the Bluegrass Conservancy and is presently a director of the Fayette Alliance.

Phillips issued the following statement:

For more than a century of horse racing, different states have adopted different rules and policies attempting to assure fair competition in their jurisdiction. The country, indeed the world, is smaller and the differences between these state rules have ultimately created conflict, confusion, and controversy. The regulatory goal of clarity and equity sought by the 38 jurisdictions in the U.S. has been undermined in the context of the 21st century. While there are many examples where regulatory differences between state jurisdictions exacerbate our Sport's infighting, none has been more fiercely debated, more polarizing, and more public than medication.

As this particular debate has raged for nearly four decades, the Sport of Horse Racing has fallen out of favor and is barely recognized as relevant in today's world of sports. The reasons for this precipitous decline are many, some of which are totally out of our control. But not all reasons are outside our control and if we are to give our sport a chance to survive we must deal decisively with issues we can affect.

Medication is one such issue. It is the issue that generates more adverse publicity and negative imagery than any other. Try as we have, the pace of reform has been painfully too slow. Those non-reformists who would argue for more time to educate the press and the racing public are kidding themselves. We no longer have enough relevance for such assertions to be heard.

The notions that we must continue to educate, to undertake more research, and press for reform in other areas, is not in debate. Of course, the Sport through its institutions should do all of those things. But time is a luxury, that at a 4% decline per year, we do not have.

There is an old saying “if you take care of the horse, it will take care of you.” To that I add the corollary, “if we don't take care of the sport, we will have no horses to take care of.”

For me the issue is broader than Lasix, a drug which is good for certain particular horses but is bad for the sport in my opinion; the issue is addressing decisively and immediately issues under our control that definitively negatively impact our Sport. Our world is different than a century ago. I support WHOA given its bold and rational support of HR 3084. Honestly, you may disagree with the notion of federalism. I understand, but study the facts of USADA's involvement elsewhere; its track record, its credibility and such will lead you to the inescapable conclusion. I don't believe we as a Sport have a choice. I support WHOA.

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