Hartman to Step Down at Golden Gate Fields

Track general manager since 2005 will remain at post through current meet.

Robert Hartman, the general manager at Golden Gate Fields for the past six years, is leaving his post at the conclusion of the current fall meet Oct. 2.

Hartman, 40, said he's "going to move on to a new opportunity outside of horse racing." He declined to specify the nature of the new venture, citing ongoing negotiations. He said he has informed The Stronach Group, which owns the California Bay Area track, of his plans.

"The time has come to take on new and different challenges," Hartman said.

The Stronach Group has appointed Joe Morris, formerly of the NTRA, as interim general manager. Morris, currently the Stronach Group's vice president of operations and sales, is to join the Golden Gate team during the current meet, Hartman said.

Hartman said he was generally happy with his tenure at the track in spite of the problems that have become evident in recent years.

"The industry is obviously facing many difficulties," Hartman said. "We have fought the headwinds here and come up with many creative marketing ideas. We've actually been able to hold our on-track attendance steady.

"But field size has been a constant problem we've been fighting. Putting on a good product has been very difficult, and the foal crop in California has continued to decline. We were racing five days a week when I came here, then we went to four, and now we're at three days a week for this meet."

Golden Gate Fields is one of six Bay Area finalists as a location for an auxiliary campus of the University of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. If selected, the track would be sold and a new venue for racing in Northern California would have to be found.

A final decision on the new campus is expected by the end of the year. Hartman said the potential sale of the 140-acre bayfront track was not a factor in his decision to leave.

Hartman is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Racetrack Industry Program and worked for the New York Racing Association and at Santa Anita Park before Frank Stronach appointed him to the Golden Gate post.