Aidan Butler

Aidan Butler Appointed to COO, 1/ST Racing and President, 1/ST Content

The Stronach Group's Aidan Butler has been appointed to Chief Operating Officer, 1/ST RACING and to President, 1/ST CONTENT, 1/ST announced Thursday. Butler joined The Stronach Group in 2018 and has been front and center in California leading the racing operations teams at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields as the Acting Executive Director of California Racing Operations. In addition, he also served as Chief Strategy Officer for The Stronach Group. Butler will work directly with Craig Fravel, Chief Executive Officer, 1/ST RACING, to further develop the company's racing...

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Riders Up Documentary Takes Look Behind Scenes at “First Sports Bubble”

As the  realities of the coronavirus started to spread across California and the country, the team at Santa Anita wasn't sure how to prepare for what could have quickly escalated into a dire situation for the track and the sport. But what began as a scramble of sorts led to a well-coordinated plan. Racing would successfully return to the historic Southern California track and with an innovative wrinkle. During the racing week, the jockeys were required to live in a bubble in campers situated on track. What might at first...

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New Turf Chute Will Give Santa Anita Extra Sprint Options

Santa Anita Park has broken ground on a new turf chute adjacent to the main dirt track's seven-furlong chute that will allow sprints up to 6 1/2 furlongs to be conducted on the grass oval. The new configuration won't be ready in time for the upcoming meet that commences Sept. 19. But once the extension is completed, track management is going to consider reopening the currently closed 6 1/2-furlong downhill turf course for select usage. Aidan Butler, the chief strategy officer and executive director of California racing operations for The...

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Santa Anita to Honor Chillingworth With Stake During Autumn Meet

Sherwood Chillingworth, the longtime director and executive vice president of the Oak Tree Racing Association who passed away last October at 93, will be honored with The Chillingworth S.-formerly the LA Woman S.--to be contested during Santa Anita's Autumn season. Prior to 2009, the Grade III contest for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up was run during the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita as the Louis R. Rowan S., named after one of the founders of the Oak Tree Racing Association. "Chilly was one of the sport's true gentlemen,"...

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Anatomy of California Response to Pandemic

When Victor Espinoza rolled through the gates of Los Alamitos racecourse on the afternoon of Saturday, July 4, he did so anticipating a quick in-and-out with few disruptions. The Triple Crown-winning jockey had two mounts, in the eighth and ninth races, neither of them hot fancies. Approaching the jocks' room, however, Espinoza paused. "There wasn't enough room for all of us," said Espinoza of the room's quarters, which had been split between Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred riders. "We were stacked in there like sardines." Events from that afternoon have played...

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Racing Allowed To Continue Friday at Santa Anita

Racing was allowed to continue Friday at Santa Anita after tests conducted earlier in the week returned some inconclusive results. With the results still being evaluated Friday morning, jockeys were not allowed the participate in workouts. Exercise riders were still permitted on track. Santa Anita officials issued a release, saying: "All of the jockeys at Santa Anita Park have tested negative for COVID-19 and racing will continue as schedule this afternoon.  Jockeys were asked not to be onsite this morning while some screenings were rechecked. A retest of their initial...

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The “Pep” Back “In the Step” of Santa Anita

California is an island, they say. Well, for the past few years, it sure has felt as though the industry in the state has been left to circle the choppy waters surrounding this island in a leaky vessel. At times, these leaks have threatened to submerge the boat completely--like the Santa Anita welfare crisis that erupted last spring which led to a sweeping set of reforms that have improved safety but pushed some cash-strapped operators further along the financial gang-plank. At other times, stormy seas have proven galvanizing, bringing this...

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A Strong Reopening for Santa Anita

Santa Anita was up and running Friday, the first time racing had been held at the Southern California racetrack since Mar. 22. All that was missing were fans in the stands. The card was strong, the handle was robust and it appeared that the many strict protocols put in place by Santa Anita didn't affect the racing. "We're, overall, really happy with how things went," said Aidan Butler, who heads the California racing operation for The Stronach Group. "It is so good to be back racing. From a logistics standpoint,...

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Santa Anita Protocols in Place for the Resumption of Racing

Brice Blanc is rested, swabbed, needled and raring to go. "It'll be good to get back to work," said the jockey, who's scheduled to ride Friday at Santa Anita before a grandstand empty of spectators--the track's first day of live racing since March 22. To get the green-light to ride, Blanc underwent a blood test Wednesday to see whether he carries antibodies showing that he's already been exposed to Covid-19. He was also given a nasal swab to see if he's currently infectious. "It wasn't that bad," said Blanc, of...

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Santa Anita Gets County Clearance, Will Re-Open May 15

Officials at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, announced late Wednesday afternoon that the track has received approval from the Los Angeles County Health Department to resume safe live racing beginning this Friday, May 15, as part of Los Angeles County's revision of its 'Safer at Home' guidelines. Racing will be conducted without spectators and with essential personnel following strict protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. "We are very grateful for the open and continuous communication with both the Health Department and Supervisor Kathryn Barger's office," said...

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Santa Anita Plans to Issue Condition Book Thursday

Santa Anita will put out a condition book April 30 which will target May 15 for the resumption of live racing under strict protocols with no fans present, according to a letter issued by track management Wednesday. The TDN obtained a copy of the letter, which was sent to Greg Avioli, the President and CEO of the Thoroughbred Owners of California; Alan Balch, the Executive Director of California Thoroughbred Trainers; and Darrell Haire, Regional Manager of the Jockeys' Guild. Officials at Santa Anita said that they would have no comment...

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Decision on Live Racing at Santa Anita Expected Next Week

Santa Anita executives, including The Stronach Group (TSG) chairman and president Belinda Stronach, held an online meeting Thursday with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and other officials about a possible resumption of live racing at Santa Anita. According to TSG chief strategy officer Aidan Butler, an official decision on the matter is expected early next week. "We walked them through it, and then I presented them the plan. As positive as I think it could be. [Barger] seems very understanding—she wants to work with us," said Butler, about the...

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