For the first time in more than two years, the California Horse Racing Board has a full commission. Thursday, Gov. Gray Davis appointed retired Silicon Valley executive William A. Bianco to the CHRB, only six days after naming Los Angeles attorney Roger Licht to the board.
These two appointments bring the commission to seven members, the first time since December 1998 the CHRB has no empty seats. Only three months ago, the CHRB could not meet due to too few members - just three seats were filled. Davis then made the November appointments of Coalinga rancher John Harris and Hollywood producer Alan Landsburg.
Bianco, 61, entered the horse business three years ago. "I retired January 1998, and we bought our first horse in February 1998," said Bianco. "My dad always dreamed of owning a horse or two. He died too young to do it. I retired young and decided to live my father's dream."
Since then, he has rapidly built his Fog City Stable far beyond its Bay Area beginnings. "We have orange and black colors, after the (San Francisco) Giants," noted Bianco, who lives in Saratoga near San Jose. "We wanted to keep those Bay connections."
With David Shimmon, Bianco owns 23 horses plus seven more in other partnerships. His best-known runners include Blueprint, who is expected to run March 11 in the San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita, and promising 3-year-old D'Wildcat, who is pointed to Gulfstream's Swale Stakes that same weekend. Bob Hess Jr. and D. Wayne Lukas are his principal trainers.
A native New Yorker and mechanical engineer, Bianco founded The Kinetic Group in 1972 and saw his Santa Clara company grow from five employees to more than 17,000 worldwide.
Kinetic started with tomatoes, strawberries and semiconductors. The company initially developed a system for storing and shipping delicate produce in controlled atmosphere, but its specialized piping and construction also could be applied to computer electronics.
"We grew with Intel," said Bianco, whose company became a major provider to the Silicon giant. "We were in the right place at the right time."
Bianco, a Republican, has years of experience as a labor negotiator and feels that will help him in his new position. He and his wife Marie also have been very supportive of several charitable causes, including cancer research, abused women and children, and the San Jose Symphony.