John Van de Kamp will be stepping down as president and general counsel of the Thoroughbred Owners of California on July 1, 2004 after eight years of service.
Van de Kamp, who has held the president's position for the TOC since replacing Drew Couto in April 1996, said he is leaving the TOC to pursue another full-time opportunity, which he declined to identify.
Couto, who has worked as a consultant for TOC in recent years, will share the president's duties with Van de Kamp until a permanent replacement is found. The TOC plans to conduct a national search.
Van de Kamp said he was happy with "three or four things" the TOC was able to accomplish under his watch, but he remains disappointed the economics of horse racing for owners has not improved.
"Its not like you leave after eight years claiming victory. There's still a very tough road ahead," Van de Kamp said. "The economics of the game for the owner has not improved. The problem is the industry is still stagnant. It's kind of like being on a treadmill, you are running fast but you aren't making any progress."
Most recently, Van de Kamp has been at the forefront of pushing legislation that would provide owners workers' compensation relief through a slight increase in takeout. The rising cost of workers' compensation premiums has made it difficult to keep horsemen in California, Van de Kamp said.
"The workers' compensation situation is out of control and we are trying to bring it back under control," Van de Kamp said. "If the bill passes, I think California once again will be competitive with the rest of country."
TOC chairman Ron Charles saluted Van de Kamp's work in a press release.
"John has served us effectively as the TOC and the industry have made major accomplishments, such as obtaining tax relief and helping to open up the marketplace to account deposit wagering," Charles said. "More recently, he was instrumental in the development of the captive workers' compensation insurance program for owners and trainers currently in place and also the measure now awaiting action to provide major industry workers' compensation relief.
"He is respected within the industry for his professionalism, civility, and fairness. We'll be looking to utilize his good counsel in the years ahead."
During the transition period, Van de Kamp will continue to represent the TOC on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and on a number of outside venues.