Dennis Cardoza, who represents the 18th district of California in Congress, has joined the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.
A Thoroughbred breeder and owner, Cardoza brings a lifelong enthusiasm for racing to the TOC board. Currently serving his fifth term in Congress, he spent six years in the California Assembly, where he chaired the rules committee.
Cardoza worked with the late Ken Maddy, who authored racing-related bills. Cardoza served as vice chairman of the State Fairs and Allocations Committee, and when Maddy left the committee, he took over the chairmanship and held the position for four years.
“The industry is very fortunate to have someone in Dennis’ position who is so passionate about horse racing,” said TOC chairman Jack Owens in a statement. “We very much welcome his input and guidance on our board. We hope the industry in California is commencing a turnaround, and it is very clear to me that Dennis can help with that.”
Cardoza’s interest in racing also began at a young age.
“My first exposure with horse racing was when my mom used to watch the races from the Fresno Fair,” Cardoza said in a release. “The local dairy used to deliver milk and include a tear-off sheet for betting races. If we were able to pick a winner that day, we’d get a free carton of cottage cheese. If we picked two winners, we’d get butter or other dairy supplies for up to a year.”
A partner in three 2-year-olds, Cardoza owns several broodmares and their offspring. His trainers include Ron Ellis and Rene Amescua in California and Tim Keefe and Tim Tullock in Maryland.
“I always wanted to own horses,” Cardoza said. “In the foyer of my home is a painting of Secretariat’s Belmont stretch run. I remember watching the race with my mom in 1973.”
Cardoza hopes to be able to help unify California’s racing industry through service on the TOC board.
“For my entire career, my colleagues and friends know me as a consensus builder,” said Cardoza. “If ever there was an industry that needed consensus, it is this one. It’s too grand a sport to not live up to its majestic history. My goal is to help it recapture the greatness of Thoroughbred racing.”
Cardoza fills a seat vacated by the resignation of Donald Valpredo. He will begin serving with the Aug. 19 board meeting and will join the board at the organization’s annual meeting the following day. Both events will take place at Del Mar.