06/06/2010 11:00PM

Barron, longtime Ohio regulator, dead at 74


Norm Barron, a prominent member of the Ohio racing community who served on the state's racing commission for 20 years, died on Saturday of complications of cancer. Barron was 74.

An owner and breeder in Ohio for 30 years, Barron served on the Ohio State Racing Commission from 1983 to 1995, six of those years as chairman. He also served on the commission from 1999 to 2007, two of those years as chairman.

Although Barron was most readily identified with his home state of Ohio, he also had an "enormous influence" on national regulation issues through his service on various committees of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, according to Ed Martin, the executive director of the association who worked with Barron for many years. Martin credited Barron with developing model rules for the regulation of medications in the early 1990s, when the sport was grappling with a hodgepodge of rules that differed from state to state.

"He was active, engaged, committed, open-minded, but fair," Martin said. "There was no financial reward for what he did, but Norm always wanted to do the right thing. He dedicated his whole life to it, whether he got paid for it or not."

In 2003, the RCI tabbed Barron for its Joan Pew Award, which honors the "outstanding regulator" of the year. He was a past chairman of the organization.

A native of Cincinnati, Barron was senior managing partner of the law firm Barron, Peck, Bennie and Schlemmer in that city. Formerly, he was a partner with Brooks, Kelly, and Barron.

During the early 1990s, Barron helped Ohio racetracks implement a novel plan to trade simulcasts on live racing days in order to increase the amount of races available to bettors in a state that had restrictions on out-of-state simulcasting. The concept, called 7 & 7, remains in place.

Barron also helped devise the Best of Ohio, a series of races for Ohio-bred horses. He was the managing partner of the Best of Ohio Stables, an owning and breeding operation.