03/17/2017 11:56AM

John Van de Kamp, former president of TOC, dies

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Benoit & Associates
John Van de Kamp became president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California in 1996.

John Van de Kamp, a former California attorney general who brought considerable credibility to the fledgling Thoroughbred Owners of California when he was hired as the organization’s second president, died on Tuesday at his home in Pasadena, Calif., following a brief illness, according to the TOC. Van de Kamp was 81.

Van de Kamp was a minor investor in racing when he was brought on to be the second president of the TOC in 1996, three years after the organization wrested control over horsemen’s issues in the state from the California Thoroughbred Trainers association. A candidate for California governor in 1990, Van de Kamp was highly respected by supporters in the state government, and his weighty accomplishments instantly burnished the TOC’s reputation.

Van de Kamp led the TOC’s negotiations with racetracks and the California Horse Racing Board from 1996 to 2004, utilizing his considerable experience in legal matters. While Van de Kamp was president, the TOC continued to maintain an assertive, aggressive stance on issues considered critical to owners, and Van de Kamp resolutely pressed to protect owners’ shares of parimutuel wagering and obtain relief from escalating costs, even if that meant support for a small takeout hike in the last year of his tenure.

Though Van de Kamp was enamored with racetrack life, he rarely made a wager, and when he did, it was usually a small one.

Van de Kamp, a native of California, came from a wealthy, well-established Pasadena family, and he received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Stanford. After serving as a county prosecutor and briefly managing political campaigns, Van de Kamp served as California attorney general from 1982-90.

Van de Kamp left the TOC in 2004 after he was elected president of the State Bar of California. He recently served as counsel at the Los Angeles office of Mayer Brown, a law firm with offices throughout the world.

Van de Kamp is survived by his wife, Andrea, and a daughter, Diana, according to the TOC.