Trouble In (Turf) Paradise? Safety Concerns Cause Commissioner Walkout

by | 01.11.2019 | 4:08pm
Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz.

Concerns about safety at Turf Paradise, including an apparent lack of functional fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in some barns, caused vice chairman Rory Goree to physically walk out of a Arizona Racing Commission meeting on Thursday. According to, the ARC was meeting in part to grant a racing license to Turf Paradise, but Goree's walkout meant that the remaining two commissioners Tom Lawless and Chairman Jay McClintock were unable to take any further action.

“If we're not as a collective group giving a s**t about security,” Goree proclaimed, “how are we giving a s**t about racing? …We have people's lives — and horses' lives — at risk.”

Turf Paradise was purchased by brothers Jerry and Ron Simms in 2000. The pair sued one another in 2010 for criminal conduct; the case remains unresolved, but Ron Simms was stripped of his racing license (this was later overturned) and Jerry Simms' representatives were found to have secretly collaborated with a Racing Department director.

The ARC is supposed to have five members but two of those seats are currently vacant, one of those for more than a year. With just three commissioners remaining, critics expressed concern that Jerry Simms has “undue influence” with the ARC through his friendships with Lawless and McClintock.


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