KISS him goodbye: Verge out at Santa Anita

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Less than eight months after Frank Stronach hired him to bring fresh ideas and a younger demographic to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and less than a week after the track hosted the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, Mark Verge has stepped down as CEO.

Verge was hired in March to replace Greg Avioli, the former CEO of the Breeders’ Cup.

“Mark has a lot of other businesses, and apparently he came to the realization that this place was all-consuming and that he was going to have to devote more time to his other businesses,” said Mike Willman, Santa Anita’s director of publicity.

A horse owner and close friend of 2012 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill, Verge drew criticism from the California Horse Racing Board at a July meeting for his planned marketing of the Santa Anita fall meet, much of which centered around O’Neill (including an O’Neill bobblehead giveaway), who served a lengthy suspension this summer for a medication violation. Verge then had a verbal altercation with the wife of trainer Bob Baffert at the post position draw for Del Mar’s Pacific Classic, days after Verge and partners bought the horse Richard’s Kid and moved him from Baffert to O’Neill’s barn. That altercation, insiders said, doomed Verge’s chances of making it past the fall meet as Santa Anita’s CEO.

Department heads were notified of Verge’s departure during a Thursday meeting.


Also leaving, according to sources, are a number of people hired by Verge, including Jimmy Dunne, who was named Santa Anita’s Chief Creative Officer and wrote a song, “My California,” that was played daily and widely panned by anyone who heard it.  Cedd Moses, a cocktail impresario in the Los Angeles area brought on as beverage consultant, is also leaving, as is media consultant and director of sponsorship Damien Lewis, among others.

George Haines, the track’s longtime general manager, is expected to run Santa Anita for the near term. There is no word on whether Gene Simmons, the reality TV show and rock star who has been frontman for the band KISS for decades, will be brought on-board as a marketing consultant or track executive. In an Oct. 18 article, the Paulick Report first reported on the likelihood that Verge would soon be leaving and that Simmons had been engaged in high-level meetings concerning Santa Anita with Frank Stronach’s daughter, Belinda, and others from the corporate office of the Stronach Group.

By our count, Verge is the 10th executive hired by Stronach to run Santa Anita since purchasing the track in 1998.

Santa Anita Park opens its winter-spring meeting on Dec. 26.

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  • Kirk S.

    I was hopeful this was a change for good back in March.  Met with Verge, seemed like an engaging and passionate guy.  Seemed honestly intersted in what a track patron wanted for Santa Anita.

    Fast forward to September.  A song?  Idiot announcer talking and talking about inane stuff?  Naming a bar and snack bar after I’ll Have Another, like that horse compares to Seabiscuit, John Henry and Zenyatta?  That’s just the stuff you could notice on the outside.  Probably was worse for anyone who worked there.

    And he wasn’t around the track patrons like he was in April.  As much presence as Greg Avioli.

    I love Santa Anita but can’t anyone with half a brain and a passion for racing get hired to run the place?

    • LongTimeEconomist

      Not as long as Frank is the boss.

  • Kirk S.

    I was hopeful this was a change for good back in March.  Met with Verge, seemed like an engaging and passionate guy.  Seemed honestly intersted in what a track patron wanted for Santa Anita.

    Fast forward to September.  A song?  Idiot announcer talking and talking about inane stuff?  Naming a bar and snack bar after I’ll Have Another, like that horse compares to Seabiscuit, John Henry and Zenyatta?  That’s just the stuff you could notice on the outside.  Probably was worse for anyone who worked there.

    And he wasn’t around the track patrons like he was in April.  As much presence as Greg Avioli.

    I love Santa Anita but <sigh> can’t anyone with half a brain and a passion for racing get hired to run the place?</sigh>

  • Insidethepylons

    Please tell me that Jimmy The Hat isn’t out as whatever his job title was?

    Verge’s independent study on Asian bettors because his wife is Asian were innovative and ahead of their time.

    I’m guessing/hoping, that within a year or two, Verge will be a board member on the CHRB.

    • RayPaulick

      The Hat is safe for now, I’ve been told.

      • Please save horse racing

        Jimmy the Hat is as useless as the rest of them. What has he accomplished other than to get lucky and win a big Pick 6? That made him an expert? He just regurgitates stuff when he supposedly offers “handicapping advice.” A total fraud; fire him too

  • Insidethepylons

    Please tell me that Jimmy The Hat isn’t out as whatever his job title was?

    Verge’s independent study on Asian bettors because his wife is Asian were innovative and ahead of their time.

    I’m guessing/hoping, that within a year or two, Verge will be a board member on the CHRB.

  • RayPaulick

    The Hat is safe for now, I’ve been told.

  • Sally in Indy

    Really might want to check with the folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway concerning Gene Simmons’ contributions when he was a marketing consultant to the Indy Racing League. Just sayin’….

    • NAFTA

      Summary or link to info appreciated.

  • Sally in Indy

    Really might want to check with the folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway concerning Gene Simmons’ contributions when he was a marketing consultant to the Indy Racing League. Just sayin’….

  • Second Watcher

    Is there anything left in racing that Frank hasn’t ruined?

  • Second Watcher

    Is there anything left in racing that Frank hasn’t ruined?

  • Lionel

    A review of Westsiderentals.com (Mr. Verge’s “lots of other businesses” lol) on Yelp stated “… horrible value and terrible customer service …” NUFF SAID…

  • NAFTA

    Summary or link to info appreciated.

  • Please save horse racing

    Jimmy the Hat is as useless as the rest of them. What has he accomplished other than to get lucky and win a big Pick 6? That made him an expert? He just regurgitates stuff when he supposedly offers “handicapping advice.” A total fraud; fire him too

  • MA

    Bring back Ron Charles!

    • Don Reed

      He was the best!  And the ONLY name among the many Stronach hires that readily comes to mind as a positive memory. 

  • MA

    Bring back Ron Charles!

  • http://yahoo roger newell

    Will Frank bring back the employees Verge let go during his brief tenure?

    The cold hard nosed reality….

    * TOC/CHRB jointly control the exceedingly HIGH exotic takeout rate so a new CEO can’t even have the authority to generate additional handle via a lower favorable takeout rate….that’s a MAJOR negative in any business. 

    *Daily Racing Form costs $7 today

    *The popular So Cal P-6 is consistently won by tickets that cost over $800 which
    disconnects the majority customer (grandstand customer with bankroll of $300 or less).

    *The Place Pick All has been stale for a decade.

    *Food quality and prices remain an issue at all grandstand/clubhouse areas in California.

    *The State of California is BILLIONS in debt due to overspending by political officials and
    just raised their Sales Tax again (10% or close to it) so potential young/new customers have less money to spend as do regular racetrack customers that are burdened with daily HIGH exotic takeout rates.

    *The TOC is perceived by many .. in-state and out of state as brash and unyielding to the
    regular customer so they bet other tracks instead.

    *Frank Stronach has not helped CA Racing in the last decade as an absentee owner and the “power play” move to eliminate the respected Oak Tree meet and execs that ran Oak Tree has still left a bitter taste for many former loyal Oak Tree/ Santa Anita customers.

    *The emphasis of Santa Anita marketing towards getting new customers and increasing their mutuel handle has been flawed from the get-go…… the emphasis should be = take care of your current customers with fair admission prices,Program prices,food prices,takeout rates and those customers WILL PROUDLY BRING your new customers and introduce/educate the new fans to the great sport of horseracing. Today, many current customers keep it a secret that they even attend/bet the declining sport in California.

    • David

      Well said!

    • Warren Eves

      I couldn’t have said it any better Roger.  My rants have fallen on deaf ears for eons.  Still truly believe they(meaning Santa Anita) could begin to salvage the once proud sport with a grass roots program of allowaing young people to work with and touch the horse.  I’ll stop there because I will begin to ramble.  Count me among those who no longer even look, evaluate, or play SoCal racing.  Just spent nearly 3 weeks in Arcadia with longtime horseplayer Carl Boldt.  Could have walked to Santa Anita but did not.  Visited morning workouts last Tuesday.  It’s sad.  We were talking about betting during my stay.  In the good old days you’d have all sorts of people asking you to take a bet out to the track.  Those things simply don’t happen any longer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528710597 Bonnie Mizrahi

        Yes – I tried to have a couple of Group Events at Santa Anita, and the best I can summarize the attitude of the staff there was “Thank you for your money now please go away.”  I am a lifelong fan of racing and even I find it hard to muster much enthusiasm to go to Santa Anita or HollyPark.

        • Don Reed

          Sorry to hear this.  But at least it’s only about 120 miles to Del Mar, which I would rather fly 3,000 miles to – rather than to go to Belmont or even Saratoga.

          On a good note, we went to Keeneland just before Hurricane Sandy, and the people there were great!  Consider going if you haven’t gone before.  The water pressure at the Hilton (across from the Rupp Arena) is lousy, steer clear!

  • http://yahoo roger newell

    Will Frank bring back the employees Verge let go during his brief tenure?

    The cold hard nosed reality….

    * TOC/CHRB jointly control the exceedingly HIGH exotic takeout rate so a new CEO can’t even have the authority to generate additional handle via a lower favorable takeout rate….that’s a MAJOR negative in any business. 

    *Daily Racing Form costs $7 today

    *The popular So Cal P-6 is consistently won by tickets that cost over $800 which
    disconnects the majority customer (grandstand customer with bankroll of $300 or less).

    *The Place Pick All has been stale for a decade.

    *Food quality and prices remain an issue at all grandstand/clubhouse areas in California.

    *The State of California is BILLIONS in debt due to overspending by political officials and
    just raised their Sales Tax again (10% or close to it) so potential young/new customers have less money to spend as do regular racetrack customers that are burdened with daily HIGH exotic takeout rates.

    *The TOC is perceived by many .. in-state and out of state as brash and unyielding to the
    regular customer so they bet other tracks instead.

    *Frank Stronach has not helped CA Racing in the last decade as an absentee owner and the “power play” move to eliminate the respected Oak Tree meet and execs that ran Oak Tree has still left a bitter taste for many former loyal Oak Tree/ Santa Anita customers.

    *The emphasis of Santa Anita marketing towards getting new customers and increasing their mutuel handle has been flawed from the get-go…… the emphasis should be = take care of your current customers with fair admission prices,Program prices,food prices,takeout rates and those customers WILL PROUDLY BRING your new customers and introduce/educate the new fans to the great sport of horseracing. Today, many current customers keep it a secret that they even attend/bet the declining sport in California.

  • nu-fan

    If Verge is the 10th executive hired to run SA since 1998, the root of the problem is not Verge but those who pull the strings.  Who are they?  You tell me.  And, if I was Gene Simmons and offered the CEO position, I’d pass.  It would be like accepting the job as captain of the Titanic as it was sinking.

    • Hazizaffrhome

      You are right. It is not Verge’s fault. He really wanted to make it more fun and involved for the fans, not just bettors.  He also cared about all the employees as well.

      • nu-fan

        Hazizaffrhome: I’ve often found that people will often try to treat the sympton rather than the cause. They use band-aids. But, occasionally, I will hear an executive whittle through all of the rubbish and get down to the core of the problem; that’s the person who creates success. I also know that, too often, an executive will be given the task to “fix the problem” and, yet, not given the authority or the money to make needed changes. In far too many comments that I have read, too many readers see to like to have a “whipping boy” and, yet, so few of them really know the details. Why? They weren’t necessarily privy to the inner workings of this organization but, probably, relied on rumors and second-hand information. I don’t know who is to blame for how SA is run but I do know that taking cheap shots doesn’t make one a bright person and it really doesn’t help much. And, to make things work, it takes everyone to help contribute to success. Nothing spells doom better than naysayers who fight everything that doesn’t appeal to their idea of how things should be doe. However, in the larger scheme of things, I wonder how many “fans” have seen any real problem with SA? They are the ones who are important to the success of any racetrack.

      • Barbara

        The two employees left after he ran off the ones with a brain? He was an abysmal, short sighted, all-in-it-for-himself-and-his-pals failure, I don’t care how nice he was to you. But Frank has no one to blame for the egg on his face but himself, of course what’s another layer of yolk going to matter?

  • nu-fan

    If Verge is the 10th executive hired to run SA since 1998, the root of the problem is not Verge but those who pull the strings.  Who are they?  You tell me.  And, if I was Gene Simmons and offered the CEO position, I’d pass.  It would be like accepting the job as caption of the Titanic as it was sinking. 

  • Starofthecrop

    He’s old. What is going to happen to the tracks when he’s gone? Oh his bigshot son is going to run everything.

    • Ace

      2 weeks and 10 minutes after Frank is gone that company will be purchase by a large gaming concern

      • Ace

         And 4 years and 15 minutes later Santa Anita will be razed

  • Starofthecrop

    He’s old. What is going to happen to the tracks when he’s gone? Oh his bigshot son is going to run everything.

  • Ace

    2 weeks and 10 minutes after Frank is gone that company will be purchase by a large gaming concern

  • Ace

     And 4 years and 15 minutes later Santa Anita will be razed

  • Nancy Taylor

    After the ill-advised takeout hike that sent many of Santa Anita’s best customers elsewhere, there is no calendar or bobblehead doll that is going to bring us back.  The TOC/CHRB has to pull their heads out of the sand and at the very minimum cut the ridiculous vig on the Daily Doubles and the Exactas.  Show us the $$$$$$$.

  • Nancy Taylor

    After the ill-advised takeout hike that sent many of Santa Anita’s best customers elsewhere, there is no calendar or bobblehead doll that is going to bring us back.  The TOC/CHRB has to pull their heads out of the sand and at the very minimum cut the ridiculous vig on the Daily Doubles and the Exactas.  Show us the $$$$$$$.

  • Bobf83

    I know when the names for the Autumn meet were changed to the low class names they were things were in trouble.  Also, when I sat in my box and heard that song I said to myself this guy is out of his mind.

    Horse racing is not that complicated.  If they would just pay attention to the little things and not bring somebody in who is trying to re-invent things all the time things would get better.

    How about a better PA system, camera people who know what they are doing, no more loud interviews after the races that nobody cares about, and oh yeah………more horses in the races!!!!!   I know they have nothing to do with that but it would help.

    Like I said it’s not brain surgery out there.

    • Don Reed

      It would amaze me if the race caller would bother, at the end of a race, to simply state the consectuive names AND NUMBERS of the first four horses across the wire.

      I would be stunned if the same person actually understood why this is necessary.

      • Don Reed

        On the other hand, there are pleasant ways to be shocked at the track.

        Churchill, Race 1, got shut out.  At the wire, a horse I didn’t have swooped in & won.  Phew!

        Time to leave.  A man leaving the premises paid a boisterous compliment to the lady serving coffee to a customer.  The coffee drinker wheeled around.  She ignored him. 

        He said to us as we pushed the Meadowlands exit doors open, “Can you believe it?!  I said something nice to a lady and the GUY turns around!”  

        He didn’t miss a beat, with rapidfire jokes about a shocked Australian discovering naked ladies in his lake behind the barn, and a Deity who meant to hit a golfing, swearing minister with lightning – and missed.

        I’m up $42 and at a racetrack – usually a horrid magnet for sour old men – a natural born comedian materialized.

        Now, THAT’s stunned.

          

    • MA

      Agree on all counts. They’ve maintained they’re working on the new HD system and the audio and camerawork, but if that’s true, it’s coming along very slowly. On Breeders’ Cup Saturday, no one could hear the national anthem, and only half of Tony Bennett’s performance. Very unprofessional!

  • Bobf83

    I know when the names for the Autumn meet were changed to the low class names they were things were in trouble.  Also, when I sat in my box and heard that song I said to myself this guy is out of his mind.

    Horse racing is not that complicated.  If they would just pay attention to the little things and not bring somebody in who is trying to re-invent things all the time things would get better.

    How about a better PA system, camera people who know what they are doing, no more loud interviews after the races that nobody cares about, and oh yeah………more horses in the races!!!!!   I know they have nothing to do with that but it would help.

    Like I said it’s not brain surgery out there.

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    Gene Simmons is wore out…& so is Stronach…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    Gene Simmons is wore out…& so is Stronach…

  • Barbara

    Did the BC allow that song to blight their two days?
    I think maybe The Guy’s biggest mistake was not asking KISS to perform “My California”How I longed for California
    And the gold I dreamed I’d find 
    I risked it all to know my truths
    And taste her sweetest wines
    When I breathe in California
    And I bathe in her warm sea
    I close my eyes and visualize
    The thrill of what may be
    She sings from top Mount Whitney
    Her heart – the redwood trees
    Her soul, my friend, just look around
    Her soul is you and me
    How I love my California
    She’s a land where dreamer’s dream
    I will to make a better place
    For those that dream like me
    I will to make a better place
    For those that dream like me

  • Barbara

    Did the BC allow that song to blight their two days?
    I think maybe The Guy’s biggest mistake was not asking KISS to perform “My California”How I longed for California
    And the gold I dreamed I’d find 
    I risked it all to know my truths
    And taste her sweetest wines
    When I breathe in California
    And I bathe in her warm sea
    I close my eyes and visualize
    The thrill of what may be
    She sings from top Mount Whitney
    Her heart – the redwood trees
    Her soul, my friend, just look around
    Her soul is you and me
    How I love my California
    She’s a land where dreamer’s dream
    I will to make a better place
    For those that dream like me
    I will to make a better place
    For those that dream like me

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TYQWW7PLW6HP274SHIFT624HNM Gene

    Here  is a repost from someones Facebook page of the Top Thirteen Reasons (yes there are THAT
    many) Santa Anita patrons cannot wait for Breeders Cup to be over and Mark Verge
    let go as “The Guy” at Santa Anita.

    13) No more horrible, ridiculous,
    annoying, poorly done imitations by some fat guy with no talent over the Santa
    Anita PA system that was heard at the Santa Anita big meet.
    12) No longer will Santa Anita Marketing, Group Event and
    Public Relations employees fear daily for their job11) No longer will there
    be a tacky, non patronized Westside Rental tent trying to solicit
    business10) No longer will there be Cash Call signs everywhere you look at
    “The Great Race Place”9) No longer will there be a deserted, empty, and
    unfrequented I’ll Have Another bar and stand8) No longer will there be Doug
    O’Neill bobbleheads that look nothing like him7) No longer will there be
    I’ll Have Another cap giveaways6) Michelle Yu will once again be
    unemployed5) No longer will Tim Conway Jr. be mentioned every time Mark
    Verge grabs the microphone and babbles insipidly4) No longer will patrons be
    subjected to hearing annoying 40′s music piped in loudly through the speakers
    all day long.3) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing Steve
    Rothblum blab incessantly all day about Mark Verge’s giveaway promotions that no
    one cares about2) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing that awful
    California song sung by another of Mark Verge’s talentless friends1) If he
    isn’t gone, Jill Baffert will kick his ass out.Once this autumn meeting
    is over, no longer will Mark Verge be able to make Santa Anita his vehicle of
    self promotion and the nepotism of everything him and Doug O’Neill and their
    niche of friends….

    • Hazizaffirohome

      You sound like you are a Baffert fan.  If you realky knew the truth how awful Jill was you would be ashamed. As per the Sheik who owned Richard’s Kid, everything was above board and Bob was given an opportunity to buy him and did not.  Australia also bid on him first but failed. Jill had nothing to be upset about and started the whole thing. She has no power and no one cares what she thinks about anything. Many of us fans were so delighted that we had a possible triple crown winner from here and that fans could be a part of it, having a stand with his name helps us all remain in touch with the memory.  When baffert won a couple of those races, nothing was done that involved fans.  Just boring as usual as with most of the trainers.  Many don’t like fans around if they had their choice.

      • Gene

        Hazi,

        I am not defending Baffert, Bob or Jill. I am saying that MANY people found Mark Verge to have used SA racetrack to promote Mark Verge, Doug O’Neill and his circle of friends..And supposedly when criticisms were brought up to Verge, his reply was “I like it and that’s all that matters” Well, it isn’t all that matters and he is now gone…  As far as I’ll Have Another, no one is shortchanging his contribution to American racing, however, when you see Cash Call (reddam) on the starting gate, I’ll Have Another stands, I’ll Have Another caps and Doug O’Neill bobbleheads, it is beyond self promoting… They gave away I’l Have Another caps the day the Zenyatta bronze was unveiled…What about a Zenyatta cap, or a John Shirreffs cap..Why I’ll Have Another????A bitt much, wouldn’t you say?

      • nu-fan

        Hazizaffirohome:  On the other hand, I think of the report (on this website) about how Dale Romans had his meet-and-greet for fans of Shackelford.  That’s a trainer who doesn’t seem to mind mingling with fans and sharing some quality time with them.  Perhaps, he should give lessons to the other trainers on how it is done “right”.  And, yes, in the same year that the Breeders Cup is racing at the same track that I’ll Have Another ran and, later, won the first two legs of the Triple Crown (and would have won the Belmont), it only makes sense to honor this horse to the local fans.  I would have expected them to do so and would have been offended if this horse wasn’t honored in some way.  For those who complain about this, I suspect they make it a fine art of doing so by practising at it as frequently as possible.

      • Don Reed

        “Many don’t like fans around if they had their
        choice.”

         

        I can’t think of any other business that disdains (and,
        at times, even hates) their customers/clients, and treats them like employees.

        • nu-fan

          Don: And, isn’t it a shame that they do not realize that they can help racing out by reaching out to fans; it promotes horseracing. I was very impressed that Dale Romans had that meet-and-greet with fans of Shackelford, recently, at SA. It demonstrated that he valued his fans. Those in the industry who ignore fans are showing their arrogance. They forget that the customer is always the most important person in their (or any) business. So short-sighted of them! 

      • Barbara

        You are confused. The horse was being sold to AU (hence his nomination to races there) and was possibly leaving after the Pac Classic. Bob knew this. Obviously a better offer came along. Bob didn’t know that the deal that DO was putting together was happening so fast and they were taking the horse before the race. Anyway, again, to clear up your confusion about the impetus of Jill’s overly strong reaction in the moment at the party, MV was sucking up to Bob after sticking it to him and running his mouth about the purchase, and she objected to his smarmy, insincere, and inappropriate affectation, especially from “The Guy” from SA.

        And for the record, if she has so little power, why it the incident so commonly cited among SA insiders as being the nail in MV’s coffin? It was unseemly for MV to be the other half. She may have started it, but MV should have walked away, or better yet not been involved in the shady deal to send RK to his just suspended trainer to begin with in his position, or at least left well enough alone with BB after he did it. Not that he hadn’t screwed enough up already and wasn’t being made fun of coast to coast already, I’ll give you that. 

        As for having “fans” around, I can tell you that no one has been more accommodating to the fans over the last 15 years than Bob and he has every right to be tired of it now that it is a daily request. Fans who behave with common sense are more welcome that the dopes that think they need to ‘have another.” Bob last won the Derby and a “couple of them” in 2002, so maybe you want to write whoever managed SA that month and complain?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TYQWW7PLW6HP274SHIFT624HNM Gene

    Here  is a repost from someones Facebook page of the Top Thirteen Reasons (yes there are THAT
    many) Santa Anita patrons cannot wait for Breeders Cup to be over and Mark Verge
    let go as “The Guy” at Santa Anita.

    13) No more horrible, ridiculous,
    annoying, poorly done imitations by some fat guy with no talent over the Santa
    Anita PA system that was heard at the Santa Anita big meet.
    12) No longer will Santa Anita Marketing, Group Event and
    Public Relations employees fear daily for their job11) No longer will there
    be a tacky, non patronized Westside Rental tent trying to solicit
    business10) No longer will there be Cash Call signs everywhere you look at
    “The Great Race Place”9) No longer will there be a deserted, empty, and
    unfrequented I’ll Have Another bar and stand8) No longer will there be Doug
    O’Neill bobbleheads that look nothing like him7) No longer will there be
    I’ll Have Another cap giveaways6) Michelle Yu will once again be
    unemployed5) No longer will Tim Conway Jr. be mentioned every time Mark
    Verge grabs the microphone and babbles insipidly4) No longer will patrons be
    subjected to hearing annoying 40′s music piped in loudly through the speakers
    all day long.3) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing Steve
    Rothblum blab incessantly all day about Mark Verge’s giveaway promotions that no
    one cares about2) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing that awful
    California song sung by another of Mark Verge’s talentless friends1) If he
    isn’t gone, Jill Baffert will kick his ass out.Once this autumn meeting
    is over, no longer will Mark Verge be able to make Santa Anita his vehicle of
    self promotion and the nepotism of everything him and Doug O’Neill and their
    niche of friends….

  • Don Reed

    This is quite inefficient.

     

    Maybe we should employ the time-saving device of
    firing SA CEOs before they’re even hired.

     

    HEY FRANK!  Why
    haven’t any of your fellow countrymen been hired to staff this critical executive
    position?

     

    Recommended: Hire & fire four more Verges, by
    which time (four months from now), Garth might be paroled & available for
    duty. 

     

    Help your fellow countryman make an honest living.

     

    ["Livent Execs Convicted Of Fraud (NYT
    03/26/09)... Canadian impresario Gath Drabinsky, [ex-] CEO of the defunct
    Broadway production firm Livent, & his business partner… were convicted
    of forgery & [word deleted due to DISCUS censorship] shareholders…”]

     

    Plan B: Here’s the name of a company that might be helpful (if they were
    the ones who wandered into the O’Neill Barn and found Verge under the muck -
    disregard).

     

    Suggestion: Start with “Debris Removal.”

     

    “Workers Temporary Staffing specializes in placement of skilled
    professionals in the following industries: Welding, Masonry, Plumbing, Electrical
    Wiring, Carpentry, Drivers, Clerical, Refuse Collection, Janitorial Services, Heating
    & A/C Duct Work, Concrete or Cement Work, , Hotel Employees, Flaggers, Paving/Resurfacing,
    Debris Removal…”

  • Don Reed

    [Note to PR editor: Three submissions; print one,
    delete two.  Thanks.]

     

    Frank: Here’s the name of a company that might be helpful (if they were the
    ones who wandered into the O’Neill Barn and found Verge under the muck -
    disregard).

     

    Suggestion: Start with “Debris Removal.”

     

    “Workers Temporary Staffing specializes in placement of skilled
    professionals in the following industries: Welding, Masonry, Plumbing, Electrical
    Wiring, Carpentry, Drivers, Clerical, Refuse Collection, Janitorial Services, Heating
    & A/C Duct Work, Concrete or Cement Work, , Hotel Employees, Flaggers, Paving/Resurfacing,
    Debris Removal…”

  • Don Reed

    [Note to PR editor: Three submissions; print one,
    delete two.  Thanks.]

     

    Frank: Here’s the name of a company that might be helpful (if they were the
    ones who wandered into the O’Neill Barn and found Verge under the muck -
    disregard).

     

    Suggestion: Start with “Debris Removal.”

     

    “Workers Temporary Staffing specializes in placement of skilled
    professionals in the following industries: Welding, Masonry, Plumbing, Electrical
    Wiring, Carpentry, Drivers, Clerical, Refuse Collection, Janitorial Services, Heating
    & A/C Duct Work, Concrete or Cement Work, , Hotel Employees, Flaggers, Paving/Resurfacing,
    Debris Removal…”

  • Don Reed

    He was the best!  And the ONLY name among the many Stronach hires that readily comes to mind as a positive memory. 

  • Don Reed

    It would amaze me if the race caller would bother, at the end of a race, to simply state the consectuive names AND NUMBERS of the first four horses across the wire.

    I would be stunned if the same person actually understood why this is necessary.

  • Don Reed

    After he was tossed out, he bounced back up off the ground & came back to the door:

    “I had a HAT, you know!”

  • Don Reed

    After he was tossed out, he bounced back up off the ground & came back to the door:

    “I had a HAT, you know!”

  • Thegospeltruth

    Santa Anita would be a good place to dump Frank’s latest self-proclaimed genius advisor, Alon Ossip. 

  • Thegospeltruth

    Santa Anita would be a good place to dump Frank’s latest self-proclaimed genius advisor, Alon Ossip. 

  • http://twitter.com/AskGrace Happy Harriet

    Well this is no surprise, right folks?  However, Verge helped himself out of the door with his childish nonsense and pandering to friends.  A Dough O’Neill bobblehead?  Embarrassing and stupid.

    When Verge was appointed, I wrote here that Verge was an unmitigated disaster in his other businesses of which I had personal knowledge, and that he would likely treat SA in the same lackadaisical manner shortly, and be given his pink slip.  Bingo!  Westside Rentals may be a money earner, but it’s not because HE is such a hot shot businessman, trust me on that.

    Last Sunday, after Breeders Cup on Friday and Saturday, I took some guests to Santa Anita.  The place looked shabby to me, like it needed a good scrub, some fresh paint, some life pumped into it.  Yes, the BC gang probably kicked up a lot of dust, etc., but the facility looked old and tired, the concessions looked bleak, there were too many announcements about Cash Call, and I could go on and on.  Someone needs to grab ahold of that place, get in tune with the horse-loving public, and flourish.

    PS – I hated BC shutting off access to saddling barns, the paddock, and free movement around the grounds.  VERY DISAPPOINTING!

    • BonnieMcDo

      The same can be said about Belmont Park. One NY day they used to have tons of people selling food and items but some new regulations by the state did away with that. A sad looking tent had one lady selling 2 lady apples for 50 cents and not much else. No food concessions around except the  third floor greasy burgers and fries place unless you went to the dining room.  On a weekday the place is deserted, dusty and lonely. There is no one in charge right now at NYRA but even if there has been-not much has changed. I am one owner soon to reduce and then stop racing my little band of horses. And there are many like me. 

  • http://twitter.com/AskGrace Happy Harriet

    Well this is no surprise, right folks?  However, Verge helped himself out of the door with his childish nonsense and pandering to friends.  A Dough O’Neill bobblehead?  Embarrassing and stupid.

    When Verge was appointed, I wrote here that Verge was an unmitigated disaster in his other businesses of which I had personal knowledge, and that he would likely treat SA in the same lackadaisical manner shortly, and be given his pink slip.  Bingo!  Westside Rentals may be a money earner, but it’s not because HE is such a hot shot businessman, trust me on that.

    Last Sunday, after Breeders Cup on Friday and Saturday, I took some guests to Santa Anita.  The place looked shabby to me, like it needed a good scrub, some fresh paint, some life pumped into it.  Yes, the BC gang probably kicked up a lot of dust, etc., but the facility looked old and tired, the concessions looked bleak, there were too many announcements about Cash Call, and I could go on and on.  Someone needs to grab ahold of that place, get in tune with the horse-loving public, and flourish.

    PS – I hated BC shutting off access to saddling barns, the paddock, and free movement around the grounds.  VERY DISAPPOINTING!

  • LongTimeEconomist

    By far the largest dormitory in heaven is for former racing employees of Stronach, As I have said for years, he is the worst thing to have happened to American racing during the 60 years I have been involved.

  • LongTimeEconomist

    By far the largest dormitory in heaven is for former racing employees of Stronach, As I have said for years, he is the worst thing to have happened to American racing during the 60 years I have been involved.

  • LongTimeEconomist

    Not as long as Frank is the boss.

  • BonnieMcDo

    The same can be said about Belmont Park. One NY day they used to have tons of people selling food and items but some new regulations by the state did away with that. A sad looking tent had one lady selling 2 lady apples for 50 cents and not much else. No food concessions around except the  third floor greasy burgers and fries place unless you went to the dining room.  On a weekday the place is deserted, dusty and lonely. There is no one in charge right now at NYRA but even if there has been-not much has changed. I am one owner soon to reduce and then stop racing my little band of horses. And there are many like me. 

  • Hazizaffirohome

    You sound like you are a Baffert fan.  If you realky knew the truth how awful Jill was you would be ashamed. As per the Sheik who owned Richard’s Kid, everything was above board and Bob was given an opportunity to buy him and did not.  Australia also bid on him first but failed. Jill had nothing to be upset about and started the whole thing. She has no power and no one cares what she thinks about anything. Many of us fans were so delighted that we had a possible triple crown winner from here and that fans could be a part of it, having a stand with his name helps us all remain in touch with the memory.  When baffert won a couple of those races, nothing was done that involved fans.  Just boring as usual as with most of the trainers.  Many don’t like fans around if they had their choice.

  • Hazizaffrhome

    You are right. It is not Verge’s fault. He really wanted to make it more fun and involved for the fans, not just bettors.  He also cared about all the employees as well.

  • Terri Zeitz

    I suggest that whomever Mr. Stronach chooses to run Santa Anita intern with Tim Ritvo at Gulfstream to see how to properly run a racetrack in a professional manner.                And, I think it’s great that a former jockey and trainer like Tim Ritvo runs a race track. He intimately knows all of the issues involved in running a track. And he works tirelessly at Gulfstream.
    Jockies and trainers have great work ethics and know how to interact with the owners and public. That’s always been part of their job.

  • Terri Zeitz

    I suggest that whomever Mr. Stronach chooses to run Santa Anita intern with Tim Ritvo at Gulfstream to see how to properly run a racetrack in a professional manner.                And, I think it’s great that a former jockey and trainer like Tim Ritvo runs a race track. He intimately knows all of the issues involved in running a track. And he works tirelessly at Gulfstream.
    Jockies and trainers have great work ethics and know how to interact with the owners and public. That’s always been part of their job.

  • David

    Well said!

  • David

    I don’t undertand racetracks.They want people to bet but they don’t give them the Information to bet with.The tracks want new customers but they dont give them the information to learn this game.

    Makes no sense that the tracks don’t own their own past performances.

    The tracks should put their money together to create their own “BASIC”  PPS.even if they have to raise the takeout by 1/16 or an 1/8 of a point(it’s the only reason to raise takeout) on a certain bet.This will create more handle,more players and create more jobs
    for the Industry.

    • Ace

       It is called a “program”

      • David

        Pay attention Ace.

  • nu-fan

    Hazizaffrhome: I’ve often found that people will often try to treat the sympton rather than the cause. They use band-aids. But, occasionally, I will hear an executive whittle through all of the rubbish and get down to the core of the problem; that’s the person who creates success. I also know that, too often, an executive will be given the task to “fix the problem” and, yet, not given the authority or the money to make needed changes. In far too many comments that I have read, too many readers see to like to have a “whipping boy” and, yet, so few of them really know the details. Why? They weren’t necessarily privy to the inner workings of this organization but, probably, relied on rumors and second-hand information. I don’t know who is to blame for how SA is run but I do know that taking cheap shots doesn’t make one a bright person and it really doesn’t help much. And, to make things work, it takes everyone to help contribute to success. Nothing spells doom better than naysayers who fight everything that doesn’t appeal to their idea of how things should be doe. However, in the larger scheme of things, I wonder how many “fans” have seen any real problem with SA? They are the ones who are important to the success of any racetrack.

  • David

    I don’t undertand racetracks.They want people to bet but they don’t give them the Information to bet with.The tracks want new customers but they dont give them the information to learn this game.

    Makes no sense that the tracks don’t own their own past performances.

    The tracks should put their money together to create their own “BASIC”  PPS.even if they have to raise the takeout by 1/16 or an 1/8 of a point(it’s the only reason to raise takeout) on a certain bet.This will create more handle,more players and create more jobs
    for the Industry.

  • Gene

    Hazi,

    I am not defending Baffert, Bob or Jill. I am saying that MANY people found Mark Verge to have used SA racetrack to promote Mark Verge, Doug O’Neill and his circle of friends..And supposedly when criticisms were brought up to Verge, his reply was “I like it and that’s all that matters” Well, it isn’t all that matters and he is now gone…  As far as I’ll Have Another, no one is shortchanging his contribution to American racing, however, when you see Cash Call (reddam) on the starting gate, I’ll Have Another stands, I’ll Have Another caps and Doug O’Neill bobbleheads, it is beyond self promoting… They gave away I’l Have Another caps the day the Zenyatta bronze was unveiled…What about a Zenyatta cap, or a John Shirreffs cap..Why I’ll Have Another????A bitt much, wouldn’t you say?

  • nu-fan

    Hazizaffirohome:  On the other hand, I think of the report (on this website) about how Dale Romans had his meet-and-greet for fans of Shackelford.  That’s a trainer who doesn’t seem to mind mingling with fans and sharing some quality time with them.  Perhaps, he should give lessons to the other trainers on how it is done “right”.  And, yes, in the same year that the Breeders Cup is racing at the same track that I’ll Have Another ran and, later, won the first two legs of the Triple Crown (and would have won the Belmont), it only makes sense to honor this horse to the local fans.  I would have expected them to do so and would have been offended if this horse wasn’t honored in some way.  For those who complain about this, I suspect they make it a fine art of doing so by practising at it as frequently as possible.

  • MA

    Agree on all counts. They’ve maintained they’re working on the new HD system and the audio and camerawork, but if that’s true, it’s coming along very slowly. On Breeders’ Cup Saturday, no one could hear the national anthem, and only half of Tony Bennett’s performance. Very unprofessional!

  • Cristofano Ap

    Cut the crap, Frank bring back Ron Charles and Allen Gutterman to get Santa Anita back on track and let them do what they do best-run a racetrack with integrity and class. They have demonstrated their ability to overcome adversity and do the right thing for Santa Anita, get them back and stay out of their way and enjoy the ride.

  • Cristofano Ap

    Cut the crap, Frank bring back Ron Charles and Allen Gutterman to get Santa Anita back on track and let them do what they do best-run a racetrack with integrity and class. They have demonstrated their ability to overcome adversity and do the right thing for Santa Anita, get them back and stay out of their way and enjoy the ride.

  • Vic Taylor

    Frank Stronach is taking Mark Verge’s position. Frank Stronach just stepped down (Translation: “Fired”) from Magna International Inc. this week.

    You’ll see Stronach at Santa Anita a lot more now. He has nothing better to do. He has a lot of time on his hands. We all know that “idle hands” are the devil’s playground.

    • Barbara

      Jesus. You should apply for the job. The uninformed following the blind. Franks’s latest folly is running for office in Austria, his native country. He started his own political party to do so. That is why he stepped down, to avoid perception of a conflict of interest. That, and he already took his billion out of the Magna and traded out his voting shares last year.

  • Vic Taylor

    Frank Stronach is taking Mark Verge’s position. Frank Stronach just stepped down (Translation: “Fired”) from Magna International Inc. this week.

    You’ll see Stronach at Santa Anita a lot more now. He has nothing better to do. He has a lot of time on his hands. We all know that “idle hands” are the devil’s playground.

  • Don Reed

    “Many don’t like fans around if they had their
    choice.”

     

    I can’t think of any other business that disdains (and,
    at times, even hates) their customers/clients, and treats them like employees.

  • Warren Eves

    I couldn’t have said it any better Roger.  My rants have fallen on deaf ears for eons.  Still truly believe they(meaning Santa Anita) could begin to salvage the once proud sport with a grass roots program of allowaing young people to work with and touch the horse.  I’ll stop there because I will begin to ramble.  Count me among those who no longer even look, evaluate, or play SoCal racing.  Just spent nearly 3 weeks in Arcadia with longtime horseplayer Carl Boldt.  Could have walked to Santa Anita but did not.  Visited morning workouts last Tuesday.  It’s sad.  We were talking about betting during my stay.  In the good old days you’d have all sorts of people asking you to take a bet out to the track.  Those things simply don’t happen any longer.

  • nu-fan

    Don: And, isn’t it a shame that they do not realize that they can help racing out by reaching out to fans; it promotes horseracing. I was very impressed that Dale Romans had that meet-and-greet with fans of Shackelford, recently, at SA. It demonstrated that he valued his fans. Those in the industry who ignore fans are showing their arrogance. They forget that the customer is always the most important person in their (or any) business. So short-sighted of them! 

  • Mnhcp

    Does he still have his polaroid picture collection he can share?

    Gene Simmons not only claims to have knocked boots with around 5000 women in his lifetime — dude claims he can prove it … saying he took Polaroid pics…

  • Mnhcp

    Does he still have his polaroid picture collection he can share?

    Gene Simmons not only claims to have knocked boots with around 5000 women in his lifetime — dude claims he can prove it … saying he took Polaroid pics…

  • Larry Burnett50

    It’s not about marketing any more.  Any track that doesn’t have a casino or direct ties to a casino is doomed. 

  • Larry Burnett50

    It’s not about marketing any more.  Any track that doesn’t have a casino or direct ties to a casino is doomed. 

  • Ace

     It is called a “program”

  • Barbara

    You are confused. The horse was being sold to AU (hence his nomination to races there) and was possibly leaving after the Pac Classic. Bob knew this. Obviously a better offer came along. Bob didn’t know that the deal that DO was putting together was happening so fast and they were taking the horse before the race. Anyway, again, to clear up your confusion about the impetus of Jill’s overly strong reaction in the moment at the party, MV was sucking up to Bob after sticking it to him and running his mouth about the purchase, and she objected to his smarmy, insincere, and inappropriate affectation, especially from “The Guy” from SA.

    And for the record, if she has so little power, why it the incident so commonly cited among SA insiders as being the nail in MV’s coffin? It was unseemly for MV to be the other half. She may have started it, but MV should have walked away, or better yet not been involved in the shady deal to send RK to his just suspended trainer to begin with in his position, or at least left well enough alone with BB after he did it. Not that he hadn’t screwed enough up already and wasn’t being made fun of coast to coast already, I’ll give you that. 

    As for having “fans” around, I can tell you that no one has been more accommodating to the fans over the last 15 years than Bob and he has every right to be tired of it now that it is a daily request. Fans who behave with common sense are more welcome that the dopes that think they need to ‘have another.” Bob last won the Derby and a “couple of them” in 2002, so maybe you want to write whoever managed SA that month and complain?

  • Barbara

    The two employees left after he ran off the ones with a brain? He was an abysmal, short sighted, all-in-it-for-himself-and-his-pals failure, I don’t care how nice he was to you. But Frank has no one to blame for the egg on his face but himself, of course what’s another layer of yolk going to matter?

  • Barbara

    Jesus. You should apply for the job. The uninformed following the blind. Franks’s latest folly is running for office in Austria, his native country. He started his own political party to do so. That is why he stepped down, to avoid perception of a conflict of interest. That, and he already took his billion out of the Magna and traded out his voting shares last year.

  • David

    Pay attention Ace.

  • Don Reed

    On the other hand, there are pleasant ways to be shocked at the track.

    Churchill, Race 1, got shut out.  At the wire, a horse I didn’t have swooped in & won.  Phew!

    Time to leave.  A man leaving the premises paid a boisterous compliment to the lady serving coffee to a customer.  The coffee drinker wheeled around.  She ignored him. 

    He said to us as we pushed the Meadowlands exit doors open, “Can you believe it?!  I said something nice to a lady and the GUY turns around!”  

    He didn’t miss a beat, with rapidfire jokes about a shocked Australian discovering naked ladies in his lake behind the barn, and a Deity who meant to hit a golfing, swearing minister with lightning – and missed.

    I’m up $42 and at a racetrack – usually a horrid magnet for sour old men – a natural born comedian materialized.

    Now, THAT’s stunned.

      

  • Vinnie

    Will Gene bring the Polaroid pictures?

  • Vinnie

    Will Gene bring the Polaroid pictures?

  • Threeringcircus

    Bring back Ron Charles….. it is that simple!

    • Don Reed

      WHY… would RC subject himself to Mission Impossible?

  • Threeringcircus

    Bring back Ron Charles….. it is that simple!

  • Don Reed

    WHY… would RC subject himself to Mission Impossible?

  • Starofthecrop

    So when would he end up getting rid of Eugene Simmons?

    • Don Reed

      After he hires Jagger.

  • Starofthecrop

    So when would he end up getting rid of Eugene Simmons?

  • toussaud

    seriously this is the best picture they can find lol?

    • Don Reed

      “Yes, madame, he does look rather waxy.”

  • toussaud

    seriously this is the best picture they can find lol?

  • Don Reed

    “Yes, madame, he does look rather waxy.”

  • Don Reed

    After he hires Jagger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528710597 Bonnie Mizrahi

    Yes – I tried to have a couple of Group Events at Santa Anita, and the best I can summarize the attitude of the staff there was “Thank you for your money now please go away.”  I am a lifelong fan of racing and even I find it hard to muster much enthusiasm to go to Santa Anita or HollyPark.

  • Don Reed

    Sorry to hear this.  But at least it’s only about 120 miles to Del Mar, which I would rather fly 3,000 miles to – rather than to go to Belmont or even Saratoga.

    On a good note, we went to Keeneland just before Hurricane Sandy, and the people there were great!  Consider going if you haven’t gone before.  The water pressure at the Hilton (across from the Rupp Arena) is lousy, steer clear!

  • Robert Cort

    Attendence, revenue up and less horses hurt under Verge’s management, just stating the facts, just the facts. 

  • Robert Cort

    Attendence, revenue up and less horses hurt under Verge’s management, just stating the facts, just the facts. 

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