Sam Gordon resigned as president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association July 14 citing “personal reasons” in a letter, organization officials said July 15.
Gordon was re-elected president this year and has served in that capacity for almost seven years. The resignation apparently caught the Florida HBPA board of directors by surprise, as a release said the board was “shocked and saddened.”
Owner Phil Combest has moved from his position as first vice president to fill Gordon’s spot. Trainer Barry Rose will become first vice president and owner Teresa Palmer second vice president. Owner Charles Bishop will complete the remainder of Gordon’s three-year board term.
The Florida HBPA board votes for the position of president each year.
“Sam provided the Florida HBPA with outstanding leadership during an extremely critical period in our history,” Combest said in a statement. “Speaking on behalf of the board of directors and our entire membership, we’re all sorry to see Sam go and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
“Sammy was a unique individual who could be screaming at you one minute and telling you a joke the next,” Florida HBPA executive director Kent Stirling said. “He managed to always bring out the best in everybody, but it was becoming apparent recently that the pressures of the job were beginning to wear him down. He has been like a second father to me.”
Gordon as president has been involved repeatedly in contentious contract negotiations, particularly with Calder Casino & Race Course. He also helped negotiate horsemen’s deals for revenue from racetrack slot machines at Calder and Gulfstream Park after racetrack gaming became law in two South Florida counties.