Edward S. “Ned” Bonnie, a longtime member of the steeplechase community who was an innovator in equine law and horse-racing regulation, died Saturday night in Louisville. He was 88.
A graduate of Yale University and its law school, he returned to his hometown in 1955 and soon joined the law firm that is now known as Frost, Brown, Todd, LLC. Concentrating in equine law, he acted as counsel for owners, trainers, veterinarians, jockeys, feedmen, blacksmiths, and others in the horse business.
His accomplishments within horse racing would fill a book. As counsel for the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association in the 1970s, he was responsible for drafting the Interstate Horse Racing Act, which first allowed cross-border betting on races such as the Kentucky Derby.
He was one of the attorneys for Peter Fuller, who unsuccessfully sought to overturn the medication disqualification of Dancer’s Image in the 1968 Derby.
He was regular instructor in equine law at steward schools for the University of Arizona, the University of Louisville, and the Racing Officials Accreditation Program, and he prepared many of the materials used in the instructional programs.
He served for many years on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and was an advocate of uniform medication rules, stringent testing for steroids, and safety measures such as impact-tested riding helmets for steeplechase jockeys. He received the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s Joan F. Pew Award for his dedication and vision as a racing commissioner in 2009.
He was a recipient of the Keene Daingerfield Award for substantial contributions to the education and professionalism of stewards and judges by the Equine Industry Program of the University of Louisville. He has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Advancement of Equestrian Sports from the United States Equestrian Federation.
He owned, broke, trained, and rode hunters, jumpers, and steeplechase horses. With his wife, Cornelia Winthorp “Nina” Bonnie, he owned and operated a 530-acre horse and cattle farm in Oldham County, Ky.
A member of The Jockey Club, he was affiliated with several professional organizations, including the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and the United States Equestrian Federation. An adviser to the NTRA/Jockey Club Drug Testing Consortium, he served on the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council; and the University of Kentucky Equine Research Foundation.
Funeral services are pending.