Craig Fravel has been named president and chief executive officer of Breeders’ Cup, the organization announced June 17. Fravel will begin his role July 18, succeeding Greg Avioli, who left the CEO job to take a position with Frank Stronach’s MI Developments.
Fravel, 54, was most recently president and general manager of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Southern California. He also served as chairman of the Southern California Off-Track Wagering Inc., chairman of the California Marketing Committee, and serves on the board of Equibase and the National Racing and Medication Testing Consortium. He is a previous chairman and current director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
“We are proud to have selected one of the most talented, innovative, and respected individuals in our business to take the reins at Breeders’ Cup,” Breeders’ Cup chairman Tom Ludt said in a statement. “Craig’s value as a leader and expertise in so many areas will be a terrific asset to our company in the expanded global universe of the Breeders’ Cup.”
Said Fravel: “This business begins and ends with the horses and it is the charge of the Breeders’ Cup to make sure that our passion for breeding and racing is shared by the public. I am fortunate for the opportunity to lead the Breeders’ Cup, where I look forward to working with Tom Ludt and the Breeders’ Cup board to continue the organization’s work to promote our industry.”
Del Mar CEO Joe Harper said Fravel's resignation is effective June 30, and there are no plans to replace him prior to the start of the July 20 race meet or at any point in the near future.
“We’ve got a terrific management staff already in place,” Harper said, “and that’s the thing that’s going to allow us to lose a man as valuable as Craig and still be able to go forward. We’ll reassign some duties, rely on some outside help on a limited basis, and go ahead with our business.
"I truly believe we’ve got the best racetrack crew in America and have no doubt that Del Mar will be just as good as ever this season and for many to come. This is a wonderful professional opportunity for Craig, and we’re delighted for him."
Fravel becomes the fifth president and CEO in the history of Breeders’ Cup, whose two-day World Championships consists of 15 races with purses of $26 million. The 2011 event will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 4-5.
Fravel joined Del Mar as it executive vice president in 1990 after working as a partner in the San Diego law firm of Luce, Forward, Hamilton and Scripps, where he specialized in corporate law and finance. He was promoted to Del Mar’s president and general manager in 2010.