11/07/2002 12:00AM

On the positive side of racing's ledger


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Over the past couple of weeks we've read a great deal about people who have acted against racing. Today we would like to recognize a man who has acted for racing over a long period of time.

He is Hans Stahl, the president of The Jockey Club and the man selected by Chairman Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps to lead the organization through the technological revolution we experience today. After 20 years on the firing lines, Stahl is retiring as of Jan. 1, and will be succeeded by Alan Marzelli. Stahl will stay on for two years as a consultant on international issues and medication reform.

Much of Stahl's work takes place outside public scrutiny but his responsibilities have been formidable and he has carried them out with distinction.

In 1983 he was working for Coopers and Lybrand, certified public accountants, and was studying career opportunities with Deloitte and Haskins. Another client of the Deloitte firm, for auditing purposes, was Bessemer Trust, then headed by Dinny Phipps. Phipps, incoming chairman of The Jockey Club, was seeking someone to handle administrative matters.

Phipps's contact at Deloitte was aware that Stahl lived on a 15-acre farm in Pittstown, N.J., and had some saddle horses. His wife, Ursula, had become an enthusiastic rider and Stahl soon learned to enjoy it, too. Phipps's contact suggested he speak with Stahl, and after subsequent interviews with Jockey Club stewards Will Farish and Jim Brady, Stahl was hired.

When Stahl came on board, The Jockey Club had some 80 employees and its principal duties were maintenance of the Registry and the Stud Book. Today there are 250 employees, the majority working out of offices in Lexington, Ky., so they can be of close service to the industry.

Stahl supervised the modernization of Registry functions and improved parentage verification, first through blood-typing and now through DNA. He organized an industry-owned database through formation of the Equibase Company. He also created an online breeding and pedigree information service, known as The Jockey Club Information Systems.

Stahl has also been active in international racing, primarily through the Paris-based International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, of which he is vice chairman. The work of the IFHA makes it possible for horsemen everywhere to race or trade their horses freely throughout the world.

His expertise has been in demand for many of racing's most important projects, including the formation of the National Thoroughbred Racing Associations and the recently organized Racing Medication and Drug Testing consortium.

"I've enjoyed the work very much," Stahl reflects. "In every instance where we were able to accomplish a goal or move a program forward, it was with the support and encouragement of the stewards of The Jockey Club, including Dinny Phipps, Will Farish, and Jim Brady.

"We also received great support from an outstanding staff, including Akan Marzelli, Nick Nicholson [now president of Keeneland], Carl Hamilton, and David Haydon, among others. Nothing could have been accomplished without them."

When his tenure as a consultant is concluded, Stahl intends to remain in racing. Problems will always arise, he notes, and perhaps he will have something to contribute.