02/16/2011 8:18PM

Owens elected interim chair of TOC


ARCADIA, Calif. - Jack B. Owens was elected interim chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California at the organization's monthly board of directors meeting at Santa Anita on Wednesday. It is the third time he has held the position.

Owens, a retired executive vice-president and general counsel of the E. & J. Gallo Winery, has been involved with the TOC frequently since its inception in 1994. He was a board member from 1994 to 2005, and was chairman from 2001-03 and 2004-05. Owens returned to the board of directors last November as an appointed member following the departure of David Bloom. The TOC is the state's official representative of Thoroughbred horsemen.

Owens replaces Arnold Zetcher who announced his resignation earlier this month, citing the wish to spend more time overseeing his racing stable.

Owens said at Santa Anita on Thursday that his short-term priorities is attempting to "increase revenue" for horse owners, with a focus on revenue from account wagering sources, primarily through the Internet.

"If there is a priority, it's a way to increase revenue," he said. "We want to look at contract negotiations on ADW's. Right now, I want to get back up to speed."

Zetcher's one-year term as chairman was scheduled to run until August. Owens will hold the position of chairman at least until then. The TOC's chairman is elected on an annual basis each summer, following elections for the board of directors.

Owens, of Modesto, Calif., has been an owner of Thoroughbreds for more than 25 years, racing primarily in Northern California. During his professional career, he practiced law in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco and taught at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington and Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.

His election as chairman was unanimous, according to board member Madeline Auerbach.

"I think it's a real coup for the TOC," Auerbach said. "I think it's a stroke of good luck. He's very knowledgeable in the areas we have to deal with all the time. He's got a great grasp of the TOC position historically and going forward. I think Jack Owens is a great find for us at this point in our history.

"This was unanimous. There was no dissent. Everyone thought it was a great idea. This is the right man for the job right now."