SBJ/October 31-November 6, 2011/In Depth
Horse racing's dealmakers
Published October 31, 2011, Page 21
Evans was promoted to chairman and CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. in June, after joining the company as president and CEO in 2006. He oversees one of the largest racetrack companies in the U.S. and has emphasized the entertainment and social experience of racing in order to attract new fans. In addition to its namesake track, home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs Inc. owns and/or operates several other major tracks including Calder Casino & Race Course, Arlington Park and Fair Grounds Race Course.
Auto parts magnate Stronach owns The Stronach Group, which operates Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes. Stronach said he desires to reduce “government interference” in horse racing. “The tracks must have the flexibility to run the business like any other business for the best interests of shareholders, employees and the customers,” he wrote.
In June the Breeders’ Cup named Fravel, then Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and general manager, to the position of president and CEO, replacing Greg Avioli, who left to become head of horse track operator The Stronach Group. In his new job, Fravel is charged with growing the Breeders’ Cup brand, as well as making it one of the premier sporting events in the U.S. and in the world.
Hayward is president and CEO of the New York Racing Association, which operates yearlong racing at Aqueduct, Saratoga and Belmont Park, home of the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Hayward, a horse owner and horseplayer, was formerly president and CEO of the Daily Racing Form. He has worked to get more New York horse races on television and is in negotiations with the Breeders’ Cup about having New York host the two-day championship event in 2013.
Before Avioli left his position as president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup to oversee The Stronach Group’s racing and entertainment operations in March, he held a number of positions, including deputy commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and founding president of HORSEPAC, where he led the U.S. racing industry’s federal lobbying efforts.