I suspect there are few people in the Thoroughbred industry who understand politics better than Nick Nicholson, who is entering his final week as president of the Keeneland Association after a 13-year run. Nicholson announced his retirement during the spring Thoroughbred race meeting of the Lexington, Ky., racetrack and auction company.
Nicholson was a legislative aide to former Kentucky U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford before going on to a productive and distinguished career in the Thoroughbred industry, tackling major projects at the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, The Jockey Club, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association during its formative days.
A consensus builder who has had to deal with more than a few massive egos and difficult political situations during his years in leadership positions, Nicholson spoke with Alicia Wincze Hughes of the Lexington Herald-Leader about his concerns for the industry's ability to tackle major problems.
Nicholson is a supporter of medication reform, citing The Jockey Club's proposed Reformed Racing Medication Rules, but sees reasonable arguments on both sides of the hot-button issue of race-day medication, specifically the use of Lasix to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. He also suggests clenbuterol is a drug that needs stricter regulation that Lasix.
But above all else, Nicholson believes it is important for the tone of the dialogue over medication regulations to change, becoming less combative and more productive.
“So what's difficult for us as an industry is to have the maturity to respect the other person's opinion, and if I had one wish on the way out, it's let's respect one another's opinion a little bit and work our way through this issue.”
The interview is a good read and, in my opinion, reflects the viewpoint of someone whose steady leadership and forward-looking vision will be missed.
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