12/02/2004 12:00AM

Fermin to head Calif. Board

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Ingrid Fermin, a steward in California since 1981, has been hired as the executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, the board announced at its monthly meeting Thursday.

Fermin replaces Roy Wood, who served in the position for 10 years until his recent retirement. Fermin, 63, will take the position in early 2005.

Fermin has been a steward at the major meetings in Southern California since 1991, in the last few years at Santa Anita and Del Mar. In addition, Fermin has been active in the last year on an ad hoc committee that has sought ways to stem the perception of cheating in California racing.

During the five-hour meeting, the board renewed the licenses of the three account-wagering companies that operate in the state: Television Games Network, XpressBet, and Youbet.com. Negotiations between TVG and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, which represents owners in the state, were concluded on Wednesday evening and centered on purse distribution.

The board approved a 71-day meeting at Bay Meadows from Feb. 2 to May 8. The meeting will be operated by the Bay Meadows Racing Association, rather than Magna Entertainment, which had leased the track in recent years.

The board questioned a Jockeys' Guild executive, Albert Fiss, on the organization's financial status as it pertained to a fund the Guild administers for jockeys in the state, and found no irregularities. The fund, which amounts to nearly $1 million annually, is derived from uncashed mutuel tickets and provides health insurance for riders. The board was told by its senior auditor, John Reagan, that the funds are "segregated" from money administered by the Guild in other states.

John Harris was re-elected as chairman for 2005, with Bill Bianco elected vice-chairman.