Badgett settles into new role as GM
Three years ago, Bill Badgett was still training horses. Today, he’s in charge of one of the premier racetracks in the world following his recent promotion to general manager of Gulfstream Park.
Badgett, the son of a jockey, began his career in Thoroughbred racing in 1970. He served as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens for five years before taking out his own license in 1985. Badgett’s biggest claim to fame during his nearly 40-year career was training the great Go for Wand to two Eclipse Awards and a win in the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Gulfstream Park.
Badgett, 64, was first hired as a consultant to The Stronach Group in 2014, overseeing daily operations at Gulfstream Park as well as working closely with Stronach Group management on major events such as the Pegasus World Cup, Preakness Stakes, Florida Derby, and Maryland Million. He was named to succeed P.J. Campo as general manager last week.
“This promotion is like a dream come true,” said Badgett. “Working on the other side of the spectrum, going from training horses to the management side, is obviously a real challenge. Jumping from being a trainer on a Friday and coming to work here the next Monday was probably the hardest part, and I really have to thank Tim Ritvo and P.J. for helping make the transition easier for me. It’s already been a great experience as well as a great honor to work for The Stronach Group, with their tremendous commitment to continually enhance the future of the racing industry.”
Badgett’s new role goes far beyond simply running Gulfstream Park. His duties include overseeing the racing department, the Village mall adjacent to the track, and training facilities at Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows.
“Basically, I’ve taken over all aspects of P.J.’s job here,” said Badgett. “It’s obviously going to be a challenge, especially with the championship meet slated to open in less than two months, the major thought process being not only to make every Pegasus World Cup, every Florida Derby, every big day the best we can, but every other racing day as well. I’ve already learned a lot in a short time since moving into a management position with The Stronach Group and looking forward to the many challenges that lie ahead here.”
◗ Gulfstream Park has named Gustavo Eduardo Vautier as the official treating veterinarian for the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, to be run for the first time in North America on Dec. 9. Vautier, a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, worked as a veterinarian in his native Argentina before coming to the U.S. two decades ago. He has since started his own equine practice at Gulfstream as well as at major horse sales around the country.
◗ Bird Humor benefited from a ground-saving ride by Jorge Ruiz to win Wednesday’s $43,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park West for trainer Reid Nagle, edging out the lightly raced Dance Strike to record his fourth win in his last five starts.