01/08/2008 12:00AM

Charles promoted at Magna


Ron Charles, the executive director of Magna Entertainment Corp.'s California operations, has been promoted to the position of chief operating officer, the company announced late Monday.

Under his new position, Charles will be responsible for all of Magna's business units, including its racetracks, bet-processing company, account-wagering operation, and television and simulcasting investments. Charles, a former chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and a horse breeder and owner, joined Magna in 2004 with responsibility over the company's Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields.

Charles said Tuesday that he will be based in Southern California, where he currently works, though he will travel frequently to Magna's tracks in Florida, Maryland, and Texas. His priority for 2008, he said, will be increasing the availability of HorseRacing TV, the television channel Magna owns in partnership with Churchill Downs. The channel is currently available on DishTV, the satellite carrier, and a few small local cable systems.

Magna owns or operates 10 racetracks, including Santa Anita and Golden Gate in California; Gulfstream Park in Florida, Lone Star Park in Texas, and Laurel and Pimlico in Maryland, though the company is currently attempting to sell some tracks to reduce $700 million of debt. Magna also owns the bet-processing company AmTote, the account-wagering operation XpressBet, and is a partner with Churchill Downs Inc. in the simulcast-marketing company TrackNet.