Longtime Racing Executive Nat Wess, 81, Succumbs In Minnesota

Nat Wess, one of the premier publicists in horse racing in the 1970s and ’80s when he served as director of publicity at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., died on Thursday in Minnesota. He was 81.

Wess had been hospitalized since Dec. 31 after suffering a hip fracture and requiring surgery. While hospitalized, he tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email distributed to members of the Minnesota Racing Commission shared with the Paulick Report.

While he began his career as a publicist, working first at Santa Anita and then moving to cross-town rival Hollywood Park, Wess would go on to other racetrack and association management positions, including assistant general manager at Canterbury Park in Minnesota and general manager of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

But it was promoting racing that Wess was best known for, especially during his years at Hollywood Park, when “giveaways” and the launch of the Pick 6 routinely brought weekend crowds of 50,000-plus (the first giveaway, when all paid attendees received a free tote bag, brought out a record 80,348). During his tenure at Hollywood Park, daily average attendance hit a highwater mark of 31,150 in 1980.

Wess left his mark on two other big events. In the early days of the Claiming Crown, when it was held at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) and Canterbury, he  promoted it tirelessly on behalf of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. During his time at the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Wess was part of the braintrust that created the California Cup, an event that had its 31st running two days after his death.

Wess, who always appeared to be a bundle of nervous energy, is remembered by racing writers for the patience, helpfulness and kindness he showed to those who were just beginning their careers. He was an old-school promoter, learning the ropes from the late Bob Benoit and employing props and publicity photos to promote big races and star horses

He is survived, by Ellen, his wife of 58 years, daughter Deborah and son David. A private memorial service for family will be held, and a public memorial is being planned for summer.

The post Longtime Racing Executive Nat Wess, 81, Succumbs In Minnesota appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.