Michael Anifantis has been appointed racing secretary at Calder Race Course it was announced Friday by track president Ken Dunn and Churchill Downs Inc. senior vice president Donald Richardson. The assistant general manager at Calder since 2001, Anifantis replaces the late Robert Umphrey, who died Jan. 2.
Prior to his most recent position at Calder, Anifantis had served as assistant racing secretary and handicapper at Gulfstream Park from 2001 to 2004. He had been director of racing at SunRay Park in New Mexico from 1999 to 2001 and the director of racing and racing secretary at Remington Park in Oklahoma from 1988 to 1999.
He has also had experience as a Florida state steward, serving in that capacity in 1987 at Tampa Bay Downs.
"Mike brings a wealth of experience to this position," said Dunn in a release. "We are fortunate to have someone like him on staff to fill this role during what has been a sad time here for the entire Calder family. His lifetime of racing knowledge, people skills, and rapport with the horsemen make him the perfect candidate to be the racing secretary at Calder."
Anifantis, 53, was born in New Orleans, but was raised in Florida and has called the state his home since 1955. A graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in business management and marketing, Anifantis is the son of a jockey, the late Sterling Anifantis. When he took the job as assistant general manager at Calder in 2001, he considered it to be a homecoming.
"My first experience on the racetrack was going to the barn in the morning with my father," said Anifantis. "My first job on the racetrack was passing out tip sheets when I was 10. In 1976, I took a job in the racing office part-time at Monmouth Park while I was parking cars in the valet lot.
"I can't think of a better place to continue my racing career. I want to thank Ken Dunn, Randy Soth (former general manager at Calder and currently the president of Fair Grounds in Louisiana), and Churchill Downs Incorporated for hiring me in 2001, and of course for the opportunity I have today."
The 2006 Calder Meet begins April 25. The track plans to release its stakes schedule Feb. 6.