Lou Raffetto Jr., most recently president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, has been named chief executive officer of the National Steeplechase Association.
Raffetto joins a staff of four at the NSA headquarters in Fair Hill, Md. He begins in his new position March 17. Raffetto was chosen by a special search committee appointed by the NSA board of directors.
“We were lucky to have someone of his caliber available when we came to the conclusion that we wanted someone to run the company,” NSA president Franny Abbott said in a March 6 statement. “I love his enthusiasm; I love his history in flat racing.
“He has got the people skills to be helpful with our race chairmen and horsemen, and he will be able to help in our goal to become a bigger part of the Thoroughbred industry.”
Raffetto’s position was created in January after several long-range planning meetings and growth discussions within the NSA board. The NSA hopes to expand the scope of steeplechase racing in North America through additional race meets, more racetrack participation, and increased numbers of horsemen and horses.
Raffetto left the MJC and owner Magna Entertainment Corp. in November. Before his seven-year stint in Maryland, Raffetto helped revive racing at Suffolk Downs near Boston, Mass., as that track’s executive vice president/general manager. He held other racetrack positions in New Jersey, Maryland, and Florida, and was a trainer on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania circuit in the mid-1970s.
“The NSA presented me with a unique opportunity, one that will allow me to work with individuals who share the same passion for horse racing as a sport but still realize the importance of growing it as a business,” Raffetto said.
The NSA is the official governing body of steeplechase racing in North America. In 2007, NSA purses reached a record $5.3 million with racing at 32 meets in 12 states and racing at six racetracks. The 2008 NSA season begins March 22 with the Aiken Steeplechase in Aiken, S.C.