Marsha Hudgins, owner and CEO of Hudgins Contracting Corporation, has been appointed the newest commissioner of the five-person Virginia Racing Commission, joining Chairman D.G. Van Clief Jr., Vice-Chairman Stuart Siegel, J. Sargeant Reynolds, Jr., and Stephanie Nixon.
A longtime owner and breeder of hunters and jumpers, but not involved in horse racing, Hudgins initially declined to be considered for the commission.
“I didn't feel I was qualified and didn't think I could be of any benefit to the industry,” she explained. “I thought there were plenty of others who had longer and stronger backgrounds in the sport who could bring lots more to the table.”
But conversations with industry insiders changed her mind.
“I still had doubts but knew upcoming years would be pivotal for racing in Virginia with historical racing, OTBs, the return of Colonial Downs and casinos. I started thinking that someone who is behind the industry, has business experience elsewhere and understands how business can impact the state should have their voice heard.”
Hudgins was appointed by the Governor May 19 and attended her first VRC meeting as a Commissioner June 25. She said she was impressed by what she saw.
“In my business, problem solving is the biggest thing you can to do to have a view of the future,” Hudgins said. “You need to work in a collaborative way with other groups to have a common goal in which we all share. That's what I saw at the meeting. Groups with different goals coming together to figure out a way how Virginia is going to move forward. I was amazed. It bodes well for the future of our industry.”
She continued, “I see horse racing as a driving economic force in Virginia because it is our heritage. It goes back to the very beginning here. I don't think there's anything more beautiful than a Thoroughbred horse. Anybody that has an interest and love for the sport can get involved. Racing is like my business. We have people in the field that work with heavy machinery and lay piping, are very good at what they do and earn a good living. It didn't take a college degree. It's the same in racing. You need education of a different sort. You need to love working outside and with animals. We have an entire industry that doesn't go into office buildings.”