Christopher McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn National Gaming, was elected the 35th president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations at its annual board of directors’ meeting Feb. 22 at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. McErlean, who succeeded Arlington Park president Roy Arnold as TRA president, has served on the TRA board since 1998.
The TRA board elected Craig Fravel and re-elected Randall Sampson as TRA vice presidents. Also elected was Scott Wells as secretary, and re-elected were William Fasy as treasurer and Christopher Scherf as executive vice president.
McErlean said, “I am a racing fan and the combination of racing and business has always been my passion. Helping lead the trade organization representing the finest racetracks in North America is indeed an honor. There is no doubt that the business of horse racing is extremely challenged and despite the many issues at our individual local levels, there are common goals and objectives that we all share in attempting to move our businesses forward.”
McErlean, whose office is at the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Penn., directs the operations of the growing PNG family of racetracks, including Penn National, Charles Town Races, Beulah Park, Zia Park, Raceway Park, Bangor Raceway, and Sanford Orlando Kennel Club. Additionally, PNG is a partner in Laurel Park, Pimlico Racecourse, Freehold Raceway, and Sam Houston Race Park.
Penn National Gaming, trading as PENN on NASDAQ, currently operates 23 racing and gaming facilities in 16 jurisdictions. In aggregate, PNG-operated facilities feature more than 27,000 gaming machines, 500 table games, 2,000 hotel rooms and more than one million square feet of gaming floor space.
McErlean joined Penn National in 2007 following a 15-year stint with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. During that time, he held a number of positions in the operations, marketing, and simulcasting departments and ultimately held the title of vice president of racing operations for both Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands.
Prior to joining the NJSEA, McErlean was executive assistant at Harness Tracks of America under the tutelage of Stan Bergstein. While in college, interned at Brandywine Raceway. He began his racing career at age 14 as the youngest published handicapper for the Delaware County Daily Times.
McErlean is a sirector of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, a director of the U.S. Trotting Association, a member of the Equibase Management Committee, and is treasurer and former president of Harness Tracks of America. A native of Aldan, Penn., he resides in Hummelstown with his wife Michele and their two daughters.
Sampson is president and chief executive officer for Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., positions he has held with the company since its formation in 1994. He has been on the TRA board of directors since 1998 and is past president of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association.
Fravel was named president and general manager of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., in 2010 after serving as its executive vice president since joining DMTC in 1990. He has been on the TRA board since 2001.
Wells is president and general manager of Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Okla. He has been on the TRA Board since joining Remington Park 2005. He was previously instrumental in the rebuilding of the historic Maronas Racetrack in Uruguay.
Fasy is the Chief Operating Officer of Delaware Park and Ocean Downs and has more than 20 years experience in the hospitality and entertainment business. He has served as TRA Treasurer since 2001.
Scherf has been the TRA executive vice president since 1988. Prior to joining the TRA, Scherf was director of press relations for the New York Racing Association.