10/18/2013 2:05PM

Panza will join New York Racing Association as racing vice president


Martin Panza, a racing executive at Betfair Hollywood Park for two decades, has been hired as the senior vice president of racing operations for the New York Racing Association, a source with knowledge of the hire confirmed Friday.

Neither NYRA nor Panza would comment on the hire. It was uncertain when an official announcement would be made or when Panza would start his new job.

It is expected that Panza, 50, will hold the No. 2 managerial position under NYRA president and CEO Christopher Kay, who was hired in July.

Panza is the vice president of racing and racing secretary at Hollywood, a track that is scheduled to hold its final meeting this fall.

Panza’s role at NYRA will include overseeing the racing department, which is currently led by P.J. Campo, whose title is vice president/director of racing. For the time being, Campo is expected to remain in place as the racing secretary.

Trainer John Shirreffs, who for years was based at Hollywood Park before sending a string to New York earlier this year, said Panza will be a “very good” addition to NYRA.

“He’s innovative,” Shirreffs said. “He thinks outside of the box. He’s always looking for some way to develop a top-class racing program.”

Panza has served on the American Graded Stakes Committee and chaired a committee of racing secretaries who worked to help expand the Breeders’ Cup in 2008.

Hollywood Park is known for its turf festival in the fall, which was introduced in 1991. In 2002, Panza created the American Oaks, a turf race for 3-year-old fillies which became a Grade 1 race in 2004.

Also, NYRA is seeking a new general counsel to replace Ken Handal, whose contract was not renewed. Handal has served as the association’s general counsel since May 2012, replacing Patrick Kehoe, who was fired along with NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward after NYRA was found to have improperly overtaxed bettors on certain exotic wagers.