Group that owns Santa Anita dismisses its COO

Horse Racing

LOS ANGELES — Tim Ritvo is out as chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which runs Santa Anita Park, where a large number of horse deaths has provoked a crisis in the sport.

The company announced the move on Monday, saying that Ritvo left the same day to “pursue new opportunities.” His departure is one of several changes that have occurred in TSG’s executive ranks.

In November, TSG hired Craig Fravel as chief executive of racing, a new position. Ritvo reported to Fravel, who previously ran the Breeders’ Cup.

Ritvo arrived at Santa Anita in 2017 after a string of successes as general manager at TSG-owned Gulfstream Park in Florida. He also led operations at the Maryland Jockey Club.

But he found a rougher path at Santa Anita. He fired racing secretary Rick Hammerle and popular race announcer Michael Wrona, while instituting new wagering gimmicks. He hired P.J. Campo, another TSG executive, to work in Santa Anita’s racing office, but Campo left the company early last year.

Ritvo’s tenure included the crisis involving horse deaths at Santa Anita for which no single cause has been found.

“I want to thank Tim for his 24/7, day-in and day-out commitment to our company and our sport and for the invaluable contributions he has made to the repositioning and profitability of our business,” said Belinda Stronach, TSG chairman and president. “I have tremendous confidence in our 1/ST Racing Team, led by Craig Fravel, and their ongoing commitment to evolving our racing platform with the highest level of integrity and forward thinking that will drive our company’s growth for the future.”

Ritvo, a former jockey who is married to trainer Kathy Ritvo, said in a statement, “I am honored to have been part of The Stronach Group and am proud of the accomplishments that we have made for the industry across our racing and training programs.”

The Stronach Group has no immediate plans to fill his position.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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