The California Horse Racing Board said goodbye Oct. 14 to executive director Roy C. Wood after 11 years.
The meeting, at Arcadia City Hall near Santa Anita Park, is the last that Wood was scheduled to attend prior to his retirement at the end of the year. Chairman John Harris presented Wood with a resolution from the board in recognition of Wood's leadership during a time of significant change in the horse racing industry.
Wood thanked all of the current and former racing commissioners for their support, commenting that commissioners "make difficult decisions with honesty and integrity," but they are not always fully appreciated for their efforts. He also described the CHRB staff as "the greatest group of people I've ever worked with in my life."
Wood continued, "I know a lot of people talk about what's wrong with horse racing in California and they complain about the problems, but I can tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that California is still the best place in the world to race. I hope California racing continues to grow."
The board welcomed Richard B. Shapiro, a Malibu real estate developer whose family has been active in California racing for three generations, as its seventh member. He was appointed Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Shapiro, 51, a Republican, replaces vice chairman Roger Licht, a Democrat whose term had expired July 26. With State Senate confirmation, Shapiro will serve a four-year term.
Shapiro has deep roots in both Thoroughbred and harness racing. His grandfather, Louis K. Shapiro, campaigned California champion Native Diver, a three-time Hollywood Gold Cup winner.
His father, Marvin Shapiro, owned Western Harness Racing, which operated a meet at Hollywood Park during the 1970s and '80s. Richard became the company's president before its sale in 1983. His brother, Tom Shapiro, drove trotters and pacers at Cal Expo. Tom and Richard Shapiro now breed and race Thoroughbreds.
In other business, the CHRB staff provided an update on the California Performance Review report, which was issued in August with recommendations to streamline and reorganize government services. The CHRB is among the many boards and commissions that would be abolished, with its responsibilities transferred to a proposed new agency.
Harris urged horsemen to carefully evaluate the CPR. He said the industry, rather than the board, needs to express any concerns about the impact of CPR recommendations on their operations. Craig Fravel, executive vice president of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, requested a timetable of the anticipated CPR process. He indicated that racing executives would be meeting to "discuss alternatives."
The board also approved an additional two days for the 2005 Thoroughbred meeting at Santa Anita Park.
Track president Jack McDaniel said the two extra days (Jan. 19, following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and Feb. 23, following Presidents' Day), would help recover lost revenue due to a schedule approved by the board at a special meeting on Oct. 5.
The approval lengthened the Santa Anita meet, which runs Dec. 26, 2004, to April 18, from 83 days to 85, conditioned on an eventual agreement to the extra days from the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the California Thoroughbred Trainers.