SBD/November 12, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Verge Out As Santa Anita CEO After Seven Months; No Replacement Named

MARK VERGE, who was hired as CEO of Santa Anita Park in March, has left that position after a little more than seven months on the job. “It is a very nice parting,” Verge said. “They could not have been nicer about it; they offered me another position." Verge, an L.A.entrepreneur who started a number of successful businesses and owns racehorses, began as CEO on March 17. He is at least the 10th CEO of Santa Anita since billionaire and auto parts magnate FRANK STRONACH bought the famed racetrack in '98. He said he will still be a presence at the track and will continue to race his horses. “I am going to pursue some other things; they are going to pursue some other things,” he said. “They were very happy with my numbers. But at some point, we both agreed that I am not CEO material" (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal). In Pasadena, Frank Girardot reported no replacement "has been named," but GEORGE HAINES will remain the track's GM. Track Publicity Dir MIKE WILLMAN said Verge "came to the realization that his other businesses require too much time." Verge was "known for his quirky style and willingness to tinker with much of the track's storied traditions." A source said that Stronach recently "signed a marketing agreement" with musician GENE SIMMONS. But the source added that "it is not likely Simmons will take over the day-to-day business of managing the track" (PASADENA STAR NEWS, 11/9). DAILY RACING FORM's Matt Hegarty wrote a company "affiliated with Simmons helped market an energy drink launched by Stronach and his son, ANDREW," but the drink "failed as a commercial enterprise" (DRF.com, 11/9). Meanwhile, sources said that Santa Anita Chief Creative Officer JIMMY DUNNE, beverage consultant CEDD MOSES and media consultant DAMIEN LEWIS are "also leaving" (PAULICKREPORT.com, 11/9).

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