MI Developments has appointed Timothy Ritvo, a veteran trainer in Florida and several Northeast states, to the new position of vice president of racing for the east coast.
Ritvo, 45, has responsibilities over racing at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., and Laurel Park in Laurel, Md. He also will have responsibility for the Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla. Aurora, Ont.-based MID owns Palm Meadows, which is about 50 miles north of Gulfstream.
Ritvo said he began his duties several days after Sept. 28, when he was appointed to the job by MID chairman Frank Stronach.
Rivo’s primary office is at Gulfstream, where he is working with Steve Calabro, the track’s president and general manager, and with other track officials to prepare for its 2011 meet that will begin Jan. 5.
Ritvo said he will “report to Frank Stronach and his designees.”
The appointment of Ritvo in effect gives Gulfstream someone to work with Calabro in running the property that also includes a casino with Las Vegas-style slot machines and several restaurants.
MID appointed Calabro to his position at Gulfstream May 27. He succeeded Ken Dunn, who was the track’s president and general manager during its 2010 meet. Calabro had been Gulfstream’s vice president of gaming operations since 2007.
“Tim is a good friend, and I look forward to working with him with the goal of accomplishing great things this coming season at Gulfstream,” Calabro said.
In addition to giving up his training duties, Ritvo has resigned as a vice president and director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
He had been part of the Florida HPBA team that negotiated contracts for race purses and slot machine revenues with Gulfstream and Magna Entertainment, the now-defunct Stronach-controlled company that was the track’s owner until this year.
“In my recent meetings with Frank, he said he likes the fact that I am a true horsemen and that I have shown the ability to work with people,” Ritvo said. “Frank wants the horsemen to have a true working relationship with Gulfstream. That is very important in bringing about some changes for our game, which everyone knows is in regression.”
Florida HPBA President Sam Gordon is among horse owners who have been Ritvo’s training clients.
Ritvo said he did not ask Stronach if any Florida HPBA officials recommended him for his new job.
“Sammy is a good friend, and I have learned a lot about business from him,” Ritvo said. “He always gives his thoughts, and like in anything we have had a few disagreements. I think my relationship with Sammy and the other horsemen will help in continuing to build a partnership with Gulfstream.”
Ritvo said he has begun plans to disperse his horses to other trainers.
Kathy Ritvo, his wife, will take over training of his horses in Florida. Some of his horses at northeast tracks will be shipped to her.
Ritvo is a native of Revere, Mass. From 1982 to 1987, he was a jockey at Suffolk Downs and other New England tracks and rode more than 500 winners.
From 1987 to 1990, he worked as a patrol judge and in several other racing office jobs at New England tracks.
In 2005, he led trainers in wins at Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Ritvo said he has joined Calabro in planning for several new betting products for Gulfstream in 2011.
“We could announce some things soon,” Ritvo said.
One possibility is a Pick 4 on each day’s first four races. Because Gulfstream already offers a Pick 4 on its last four races, it would not need approval from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.
On Sept. 29, Gulfstream applied with the Florida DPMW to have a Quad Superfecta in 2011.
In its application, Gulfstream said the bet would require bettors to hit four designated superfectas. Gulfstream would have the option of awarding minor shares, similar to those in Pick 6 bets.
The Florida DPMW is reviewing Gulfstream’s application, said a spokesperson for that agency.
Under a Florida DPMW rule, an applicant for a new type of bet can be given approval for a 120-day trial if it meets a series of tests on accounting controls and procedures.
With such trial approval, Gulfstream could offer a Quad Superfecta throughout its 2011 meet from Jan. 5 through April 24. Thirty days prior to the completion of a trial period, Gulfstream would provide the Florida DPMW with details on wagering and operations of the bet for determining a possible permanent approval.