Dan Ross

John Shear: Ringside Seat to Nearly a Century of Memories

To say there's a touch of the picaresque about John Shear's life story would be like saying Pope Benedict flirts with Catholicism. During an over-stuffed 99 years and counting, Santa Anita's beloved paddock captain has had front row seats to historical game changers on both sides of the pond. He's rubbed shoulders with royalty and assassins, film stars and gangsters. Fate has intervened more than once on his behalf in ways that'll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand taller than a redwood. "You'll have to forgive...

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TDN Q&A: TSG’s Aidan Butler on Santa Anita, part 2

New to running racetracks, Aidan Butler, The Stronach Group (TSG)'s chief strategy officer and acting executive director of California Racing Operations, has worn all sorts of suits belonging to all sorts of worlds--horse racing, legal affairs, business management, and technology--that he says have prepared him for the task. He founded a sports equipment company called GuardLab, which specializes in mouthguards, for example. He was managing director of a large litigation law firm called Gilbert's, its area of expertise in intellectual property--though he isn't, it should be noted, an attorney. Butler,...

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TDN Q&A: TSG’s Aidan Butler on Santa Anita, part 1

When Aidan Butler, The Stronach Group (TSG)'s chief strategy officer, arrived at Santa Anita earlier this Spring, he did so in the midst of a welfare crisis unfolding on a national stage. Since then, TSG has solidified Butler's position within the company, where he will additionally serve as acting executive director of California Racing Operations. In terms of the crisis, Del Mar's summer meet--at which there were no race day fatalities and only four training-related deaths, two of which were the result of a freak accident--has had the effect of...

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