Santa Anita completed the very public reorganization of its racing department on Saturday by naming Steve Lym as the new vice president and racing secretary just days before the track’s signature meeting opens on Wednesday.
Lym, 50, replaces longtime racing secretary Rick Hammerle, who held the job since 2003 until he was fired three weeks ago. No specific reasons were given for Hammerle’s departure. Lym will start his new job the first week in January.
Lym comes to Santa Anita from Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, where he was racing secretary since 2003 before being named director or racing in 2013. Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, Golden Gate and several East Coast tracks, is a Canadian-based company.
Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of Stronach Group, fired both Hammerle and track announcer Michael Wrona within days of each other in late November. Wrona, who technically did not have his contract renewed, was replaced by Frank Mirahmadi, whom Wrona beat out for the full-time Santa Anita job in 2016.
The biggest problem for a Southern California racing secretary is creating big field sizes because the tracks are almost on an island with no nearby tracks that can send in shippers to bolster the horse population and create more betting opportunities. Toronto, much like Santa Anita and Del Mar, is also isolated.
“I see similarities in the business model that Santa Anita is faced with, and I think I bring a skill set that will transfer nicely to Santa Anita,” Lym said.
Lym has served on the Breeders’ Cup selection panel, made up of racing secretaries and officials who determine which non-automatic qualifiers get to run in the two-day event. Santa Anita will host the 2019 Breeders’ Cup.
Dan Eidson, Santa Anita’s racing director, is expected to remain in that job. He has been running the office since Hammerle left. P.J. Campo, vice president for racing for Stronach Group, has been assisting Eidson.