Archives for December 1, 2020

Nate Newby Promoted to GM of Santa Anita Park

ARCADIA, Calif.  – Santa Anita Park has announced the promotion of Nate Newby to General Manager and Chris Merz to Racing Secretary. Merz adds the title to his current position of Santa Anita’s Director of Racing and will be responsible for writing the condition books for Santa Anita’s upcoming 84th season which begins on Dec. 26.

The increased responsibilities come as Santa Anita has spent the past 18 months successfully implementing industry leading health and safety protocols for horses and riders and keeping the Santa Anita racing community protected during a global pandemic.

The promotion of Newby from his current position as Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager comes as Aidan Butler, who has headed the California Operations for The Stronach Group, transitions to his new role as Chief Operating Officer of 1/ST Racing and President of 1/ST Content and will be based out of Florida. Newby has been at Santa Anita for nearly 20 years and has been the Vice President of Marketing since 2013. A hands-on horseman, Newby also is a skilled tournament director and handicapper.

Merz returned to the Santa Anita racing office in early 2020 after a stint as the Racing Secretary at the Maryland Jockey Club. His familiarity with the Santa Anita horsemen and horses dates back several years from when he served as the stakes coordinator at Santa Anita and Del Mar, and the Assistant Racing Secretary at Los Alamitos, prior to joining the Maryland Jockey Club.

“These well-deserved promotions are a reflection of the great bench strength in place at Santa Anita,” said Craig Fravel, CEO of 1/ST Racing, in making the announcement. “Both Nate and Chris helped guide Santa Anita through a very difficult time and, with Aidan now heading up our company’s East Coast operations, we are fortunate to maintain the continuity of the team.”

Steve Lym, who has served as Santa Anita’s VP-Racing since late 2018, has been appointed Senior VP for Racing Development for 1/ST Racing and will be assisting Butler in his new role

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Indiana

“To get 96 racing days in during these unprecedented times is a real credit to the Indiana Horse Racing Commission (IHRC) staff, our horsemen and our very dedicated group of employees,” said Eric Halstrom, vice president and general manager of racing. “When you consider that we did all of that while breaking every handle record on the books makes the season a success by any measure.”

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino completed its 18th season of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing Thursday, Nov. 18. The abbreviated 96-day season offered 92 days of combined Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing along with four days dedicated directly to the sprinters to set a new record of $198,960,722

IndianaRecord numbers were posted throughout the season. The track recorded its highest single program handle on the Indiana Derby Wednesday, July 8 with a total of $5,979,952 wagered on the 12-race card. The Indiana Derby race alone garnered $1,026,395, which was a single race record for the track. The four-day race period also marked the best week ever in the 18-year history of racing for Indiana Grand with a total of $13,176,192 wagered.

Overall, the track saw an increase of 60.93 percent over 2019. A total of $198,960,722 was wagered from all sources in 2020 compared to $123,635,376 in 2019, which is 31 more percent handle with 26 less days in 2020.

Quarter Horse racing also saw a 17.33 percent increase in 2020. Total handle for Quarter Horse racing in 2020 was 20,143,348.30 compared to $17,168,338 in 2019 with two less all-Quarter Horse days held in 2020 compared to 2019. The track recorded its largest single card handle on an all-Quarter Horse day with $819,708.35 wagered on the Saturday, Aug. 8 program.

The final week of racing also established some records as a total of $3,869,898 was wagered on the final program of the year Thursday, Nov. 19, marking the largest handle on a non-Indiana Derby racing card in the history of the track. In all, a total of six days in 2020 showed handle in excess of $3 million. Only one card all season containing Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing did not eclipse $1 million in total handle, which was a shortened two-race day due to weather cancellation. The total of 91 days with handle in excess of $1 million is also a track record for Indiana Grand.

Racing dates for 2021 will be reviewed and expected to be approved by the IHRC at their monthly meeting in December. Indiana Grand hopes to return to its regular 120- racing season including six days dedicated to Quarter Horse racing.

Source: Indiana Grand