Joseph A. De Francis announced Feb. 9 that he is stepping aside as president of the Maryland Jockey Club but will continue as the organization's chief executive officer. Louis J. Raffetto, the MJC's chief operating officer, takes over as president while Chris Dragone becomes senior vice president and general manager.Dragone, former general manager at Magna-operated Portland Meadows, will report to Raffetto.
"With my new corporate responsibilities with Magna Entertainment Corporation, I will simply not have the time in the future to devote to the Maryland operations that I have had in the past," De Francis said. "Lou Raffetto will be filling the vacuum created by my new responsibilities, thus it is appropriate that he add the title of president to his existing title of chief operating officer. The addition of Chris to the MJC team will, in turn, help to lighten the load on Lou. "I am extremely pleased that the MJC will have the benefit of the services of two such talented and experienced racing executives," De Francis added. Raffetto joined the MJC as chief operating officer in January 2001.Dragone came to MEC in 2002 as general manager of Great Lakes Downs in Michigan and joins the MJC following an 18-month term as general manager of Portland Meadows. Under Dragone, Portland Meadows achieved a dramatic improvement in its operating performance, becoming profitable in 2005."I'm thrilled to have this opportunity," Dragone said. "The Maryland Jockey Club is the oldest and one of the most historical organizations, not just in Thoroughbred racing but in all sports. I'm really looking forward to working with Joe, Lou and the entire MJC team, and I very much appreciate the confidence that Joe and Lou have in me." Earlier this month, MEC announced that De Francis would assume responsibility for oversight of XpressBet, MEC's account wagering company, HRTV, MEC's horse racing television channel, MagnaBet and RaceOnTV, MEC's European counterparts to XpressBet and HRTV. He'll also oversee MEC's investment in Amtote, a leading provider of tote equipment and services, and MEC's corporate efforts in the areas of information technology, simulcasting, marketing, and sponsorship.