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Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

Next Horse Racing Director To Focus More On Breeding And Business

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Jessica Cross
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/jesscross/3169240521/

The chairman of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission says the agency's next director should bring greater emphasis to the business and marketing of horse breeding.

Last week, the Commission unanimously fired Joe Gorajec, the agency's executive director since its inception 25 years ago. Chairman Tom Weatherwax says the Commission has begun a national search for a replacement who will focus more on the business side of racing.

Weatherwax says communication between commissioners and breeders has waned and he charges the state needs to make better use of its resources.

“I’m looking forward to trying to promote the state fairgrounds to be a better use of facility year-round for the standard breeding industry and not only train some of these horses there, but keep them there and let the public go into some of these barns and have it be an education school tour,” Weatherwax says.

Weatherwax says there wasn't enough communication between Gorajec's office and breeders, and says the five commissioners should play a more active role in maintaining those contacts.

“I want to make sure that there’s more communication and openness between us and the horsemen; the standardbred, the thoroughbred, and the quarter horse. I think, maybe in the past, this wasn’t the case,” Weatherwax says.

Weatherwax notes he co-authored the bill legalizing horse-race betting in Indiana when he was a state senator. He says the gambling element was always secondary in his mind to the potential to grow the breeding industry.

Gorajec's longtime assistant Deena Pitman has been named interim director.