Ritvo Hoping Changes Will Turn Business Around At Santa Anita Park

“We have to see the business turn around,” Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, owner of Santa Anita Park, told John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times on the eve of the Arcadia, Calif., track’s traditional day-after-Christmas opening day on Tuesday.

Ritvo has spent the better part of six months at Santa Anita, studying operations and making changes that he hopes will lead to turnaround similar to that enjoyed at two of the company’s other racetracks, Gulfstream Park in Florida and Laurel Park in Maryland.

“This is the time some of the implemented changes will kick in,” he said. “There is no silver bullet. It’s a grind process. We hope to see the trajectory in the right direction.”

One of the things Ritvo discovered is how many small stables there are based at Santa Anita. Cherwa reported that a recent survey of 155 trainers showed that 32 percent of them have five or fewer horses in their caree; 20 percent are overseeing between six and 10 horses; 19 percent hhaveving 11-20; and 29 percent have 20 or more.

Because of that disparity, Santa Anita Park for the first time will be writing races for trainers with 20 or fewer horses and some maiden races will have a maximum yearling price to be eligible.

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group racetracks

Ritvo recently hired Daniel Eidson as racing director to assist Rick Hammerle, vice president of racing. He’s hoping field size will increase with a different philosophy about the kind of races being written into the condition book.

“What I’m asking is that we look at every race that was written on that day last year, and make sure a better one is written this year,” Ritvo told Cherwa.

Ritvo is not ready to retreat to a three-day racing week for Santa Anita. The Stronach Group is considering adding new stabling in the north parking lot to make up for some of the stalls lost to the San Luis Rey Downs training center earlier this month.

Ritvo is also hoping to instill a new attitude among employees.

“I want to see people here have the passion to resurrect this place to the glory that it should be,” Ritvo said. “Santa Anita should be the premium racetrack in America. If (the people here) believe in the mission, they will have a nice career, and if they don’t, they’ll need to find another place to work.”

Read more at Los Angeles Times

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