02/04/2017 9:26AM

Viola withdraws himself from consideration for secretary of Army


Thoroughbred owner Vincent Viola, President Donald Trump's pick to serve as secretary of the Army, has withdrawn himself from consideration for the role.

The Military Times said that a statement from Viola, who has been working through the confirmation process since mid-December, cited his inability to navigate Defense Department conflict-of-interest rules around his family businesses. Viola founded the digital stock-trading firm Virtu Financial and owns the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers. His plans for divestment did not meet Pentagon requirements.

“I appreciate the confidence President Trump showed in me,” Viola said. “I offer my continued support for President Trump and his administration and look forward to redoubling my efforts to support the Army and its veterans as private citizens.”

Viola, a West Point graduate, served in the 101st Airborne Division and continued his military involvement by establishing the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in 2003.

Viola's St. Elias Stable and his wife's Teresa Viola Racing Stables have competed at high levels, including in partnership with fellow West Point graduate Terry Finley’s West Point Thoroughbreds. Together, the two operations campaigned 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner and young stallion Liam’s Map, Grade 1 winner Ring Weekend, and Grade 2 winner Freedom Child, who was also co-owned by Spendthrift Farm.

On their own, the Violas’ top runners include Grade 1 winners Photo Call and Sweet Loretta and Grade 2 winner Nonna Mela.