08/09/2001 11:00PM

Mango to leave MJC post

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James Mango, the chief operations officer for the Maryland Jockey Club, will resign from his position on Sept. 30, he said on Friday, in a departure that strikes another blow to the MJC.

Mango, who was hired by the late Frank De Francis in the early 1980's, said that he had accepted a buyout clause in his employment contract "because I felt it was time to move on." He said he is hoping to find other employment in the racing industry and that he has already received several offers.

"I've been treated very well by the De Francis family over the years, but it's time," Mango said.

Over the last decade, Mango has become one of the racing industry's leading authorities on simulcasting and accounting. His tenure at the MJC also been marked by his loyalty to the De Francis family.

Joe De Francis, the son of Frank De Francis and the president of the MJC, said Friday in a statement that "it has been an absolute pleasure, both personally and professionally, to have had this opportunity to work with Jim over the years. He will be sorely missed."

Mango is leaving at a time when the MJC is struggling to fill races while dealing with a host of other operational and competitive problems at its two tracks, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

Just recently, the MJC had to move its race dates from Laurel to Pimlico because of mysterious cracks that began appearing in the glass enclosing the Laurel grandstand. Also this year, state legislators refused to renew a $10 million purse supplement, resulting in the cancellation of more than a dozen stakes races.