Pimlico/Laurel makes changes in top management

January 13, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Joe De Francis announced management changes yesterday that are designed to improve the operation of Laurel and Pimlico race courses and energize plans to revitalize Maryland racing and a proposed expansion into Virginia.

"What I'm really talking about is a new beginning," De Francis said at a noon news conference in the Laurel press box.

"I want to clarify and make more precise the roles of people I already have working for me. Then, by bringing in someone like Lenny Hale, who is universally well-regarded as a top-notch racing executive, I hope we can turn around some of the problems that have been facing our industry."

Following are the changes as announced by De Francis:

* Jim Mango, current vice president of operations and track general manager, has been promoted to senior vice president. He will devote much of his time to strategic planning and important negotiations. Both are vital as Maryland moves into a new era of multiple signal and cross-breed simulcasting, off-track betting and expansion into Virginia. The track plans to hire someone to fill the new position of director of operations, which will handle many of the duties formerly performed by Mango.

* Lenny Hale, senior vice president of racing at the New York Racing Association tracks for the past seven years, was recruited by De Francis to take over all racing-related functions after Hale left NYRA two months ago.

"Racing is Lenny's show. He is absolutely one of the top men in the business," De Francis said. "He will also have a major role in developing our racetrack in Virginia. What is more appropriate than to have someone who actually ran the Saratoga of the North to develop the Saratoga of the South?"

Hale's chief responsibility is to recruit new stables and increase the number of horses that race here.

* Tim Capps, former vice president of racing, has relinquished his racing responsibilities to take over the newly created position of vice president of communications.

Capps will oversee five departments -- media relations, marketing, simulcasting, television and group sales.

"We have to find out a lot more about what our patrons want, learn how to market ourselves more effectively and get fans back into the track," Capps said.

* Lois Webster, currently director of advertising and promotions, has been named director of marketing.

De Francis is also creating a new post of vice president of development. "We are actively recruiting a top person for this position," he said. "We have laid the foundation for our off-track betting network. Now we need someone to keep the ball rolling on OTB and also to work on our Virginia project."

The net effect after the reorganization was announced yesterday is the creation of two new vice president positions (in communications and development) and filling the role of vice president of racing with Hale. Two other administrative vice presidents, Frank Trigeiro (finances) and John Passero (turf and race courses) have been elevated from administrative to executive-level positions.

When asked if he thought the organization now has too many vice presidents, De Francis said: "No. The scope of our enterprise has expanded with everything that is going on [increased electronic racing and plans for a Maryland-Virginia circuit]. Everyone has been spread too thin. I think this is going to create tremendous harmony and a tight ship, which I hope leads to success in all the fields we have moved into."

Hale said his first priority will be to name a new racing secretary to replace the departing Larry Abbundi. "I didn't expect Larry to retire," Hale said. "But I'm not going to make any snap decisions [in naming a new secretary]."

Tracks closed

Laurel and Pimlico will be closed from Jan. 25-28 for installation of the Spectrum system at about 1,200 mutuels windows at the two tracks.

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