A Breeders’ Cup official said June 10 it’s possible the selection process for a new president will be completed by June 14, but the organization wouldn’t comment on the search process in the wake of several published reports that have said the choice already has come down to two candidates.
“We won’t have an announcement until the process is completed,” said Jim Gluckson, who handles Breeders’ Cup communications. “I also can’t comment on how the process is going to be completed.”
On March 28, in the wake of the resignation of president Greg Avioli, Breeders’ Cup said it had hired the executive search firm Spencer Stuart to manage the selection process. A Breeders’ Cup search committee—chairman Tom Ludt and board members Helen Alexander, Antony Beck, Jerry Crawford, and Richard Santulli—at the time said it expected the selection process to be completed by July, when the board regularly meets.
Avioli left the post to head Frank Stronach’s racing operations. He began working for Stronach's MID Developments in early April.
When contacted by The Blood-Horse June 6, Ludt said the search committee wasn’t through with its work. The following day, however, one of the applicants for the president’s position indicated the process was all but over, and that Breeders’ Cup had narrowed the search down to two candidates: Craig Fravel, president and general manager of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and Mark Wilson, a former racing industry executive.
A second candidate said he was told the search firm was focusing on individuals with international experience given recent emphasis by Breeders’ Cup to generate global interest. Neither Fravel nor Wilson, however, has much experience in that regard.
On June 10 Ludt again said the selection process is continuing and that it’s possible the process could be wrapped up by June 14. Also contacted June 10 was search committee member Beck who refrained from offering a comment on the process.
In light of the fact Breeders' Cup paid a professional search firm to handle the process, it's odd any information would be leaked before a final decision is made.
On June 9 a member of the Breeders’ Cup board of directors privately told The Blood-Horse he didn’t know the status of the search until he read on the Paulick Report that it had come down to Fravel and Wilson. The individual said he believes, but isn’t sure, the 13-member board of directors will vote on any recommendation from the search committee.
“I doubt it will be unanimous,” he said of any vote.
Gluckson said Breeders’ Cup also wouldn’t comment on the procedure by which the new president will be selected after the search is completed and a candidate is identified. He couldn’t comment on whether the board of directors or larger board of members would vote to approve the new president.
Breeders' Cup is under the gun in part because in it hasn't selected a World Championships host site for 2012 and would like to have a president on board as soon as possible.
Eric Mitchell contributed to this story