The New York Racing Association Aug. 1 announced that John Passero has resigned as director of racing surfaces, effective at the conclusion of the Saratoga meeting Sept. 1. Glen Kozak will take over Passero’s responsibilities at the start of the Belmont Park meeting Sept. 5.
Passero, who has served in the position since January 2005, is responsible for the 11 track surfaces at Saratoga, Belmont Park, and Aqueduct. Prior his position with NYRA, Passero served as senior vice president of racing surfaces for the Maryland Jockey Club.
“I will be resigning my position as director of racing surfaces at NYRA to pursue other opportunities,” said Passero in a release. “It has been a gratifying experience working with Charlie Hayward and (NYRA vice president and director of racing) P.J. Campo.”
“John Passero has managed and supervised five turf courses, four dirt tracks, and two training tracks at NYRA’s three locations, which is an incredibly complex and demanding job,” said Hayward, NYRA president and CEO. “He has always handled it admirably and with distinction, and the proof is that NYRA’s racing surfaces are the best maintained and most honest in the country.”
Kozak began his racing career in 1991 as property manager at Suffolk Downs, where he participated in the track’s re-opening.
He joined the Maryland Jockey Club in 2004 as general superintendent and was intricately involved in the track’s rebuild project at Laurel Park, which entailed widening the main track and installing a newly designed turf course.
As vice president of facilities and racing surfaces at Laurel, Pimlico, and Bowie Training Center, Kozak currently oversees all aspects of the backside, facility maintenance, and racing surfaces.
Hal Handel, executive vice president and COO of NYRA, noted that with Kozak’s vast experience and strong reputation in the industry, he is more than capable of assuming Passero’s role.