The Breeders’ Cup announced May 7 that Robert N. Elliston, president and CEO of Turfway Park since 1999, has been named chief operating officer of Breeders’ Cup Ltd.
Elliston, 48, of Florence, Ky., had spent the past 13 years at the helm of Turfway Park in northern Kentucky, leading the company through a period of innovation. Turfway was the first track in North America to install a synthetic racing surface resulting in a decrease in race-related catastrophic injuries. Under Elliston’s leadership, Turfway has continually been ranked among the top 10 North American tracks by Horseplayers Association of North America.
“We are proud to have selected one of the most talented, highly-regarded, and respected individuals in the Thoroughbred racing business as our chief operating officer,” said Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel in a release. “Bob’s value as a leader and expertise in coordinating operations with our board, management, and with host tracks for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be a terrific asset to our company.”
“It is very difficult to place into words the excitement that I feel to be selected to join such a world class organization as the Breeders Cup,” said Elliston in a statement. “From the best racing in the entire world, to a staff and board committed to deliver even greater results in the years to come, I feel very fortunate and honored to join this incredible team.”
Elliston replaces Matthew Lutz, who departed the company for another position near the end of 2011.
Elliston currently serves as executive chair of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s board of directors and is treasurer of the Kentucky Equine Education Project board. He also serves on the Thoroughbred Racing Association board and the University of Louisville Equine Program advisory board.
In 2002, Elliston was named Man of the Year by the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and in 2003 he received the Kentucky Harness Horsemen's Presidential Award for distinguished service to the horse industry. In 2010, Elliston was named to the Leadership Hall of Fame for his contributions to the Northern Kentucky community.
Before coming to Turfway Park, Elliston was vice president of commercial lending for US Bank, N.A., for seven years. He continues a relationship with that institution, serving on its Northern Kentucky advisory board of directors.
Additionally, Elliston worked for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Frankfort from 1986 to 1992, serving as vice president of economic and community development and representing the Chamber before the Kentucky General Assembly and the United States Congress.
Long active in the Northern Kentucky community as well, Elliston has chaired the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce as well as the Board of Sanitation District No. 1. He also served as a member of the executive committee of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Kentucky University Foundation Board, Gateway Community College Foundation Board, and the Tri-County Economic Development board of directors.
Elliston and his wife Sharon, a Northern Kentucky attorney, have two daughters, Abby and Haley. Elliston is a cum laude graduate of Eastern Kentucky University.