As the National Steeplechase Association prepares to begin its 2010 racing season March 20 with the traditional kickoff in Aiken, S.C., chief executive officer Lou Raffetto said Wednesday night that he will be leaving the organization June 30 or sooner.
Raffetto, who served as the Maryland Jockey Club's racing secretary from 1978 through 1984 and then as its chief operating officer and president from 2001 to 2007, said that while he does not have a job lined up at the moment, he is hoping to find a new opportunity in the thoroughbred industry.
"I'm hoping there is something out there that makes sense, and it certainly could be in Maryland," Raffetto said. "We still have our house in Laurel and I'm sitting back and watching the movie, waiting to see what plays out in Maryland once the [ Magna Entertainment Corp.] bankruptcy is over and done -- if it ever gets to that point."
Raffetto, who is well-respected here and managed to keep Maryland tracks in the black while Magna headed toward bankruptcy, was unexpectedly fired from his post with the MJC and then took the CEO position with the National Steeplechase Association. His job there was to grow the sport of steeplechase, and he did, helping to bring a one-day race meet to Monmouth Park in New Jersey and the inaugural U.S. Championship Day, a televised program of championship-quality racing at Far Hills, N.J., and The Plains, Va.
But Raffetto said Wednesday night that federal statutes are so restrictive on the sport that it "didn't make sense for me and it wasn't fair to" the National Steeplechase Association for him to continue his efforts. "The possibility for growth is relatively limited, and I felt like I was wasting my time and their money," he said.
The 2010 National Steeplechase Association schedule includes My Lady's Manor in Monkton on April 10, the Grand National in Butler on April 17 and the Maryland Hunt Cup in Glyndon on April 24. Both the Maryland and national steeplechase seasons will end with the annual event at Fair Hill on May 29.
The full schedule follows.
Aiken Spring, Aiken, SC, Saturday, March 20
Carolina Cup, Camden, SC, Saturday, March 27
Stoneybrook, Radford, NC, Saturday, April 3
My Lady's Manor, Monkton, MD, Saturday, April 10
Block House, Tryon, NC, Saturday, April 17
Grand National, Butler, MD, Saturday, April 17
Middleburg, Middleburg, VA, Saturday, April 17
Atlanta, Kingston, GA, Saturday, April 24
Foxfield Spring, Charlottesville, VA, Saturday, April 24
Maryland Hunt Cup, Glyndon, MD, Saturday, April 24
Queen's Cup, Mineral Springs, NC, Saturday, April 24
Virginia Gold Cup, The Plains, VA, Saturday, May 1
Winterthur, Winterthur, DE, Sunday, May 2
Iroquois, Nashville, TN, Saturday, May 8
Tanglewood, Clemmons, NC, Saturday, May 8
Willowdale, Kennett Square, PA, Sunday, May 9
Radnor, Malvern, PA, Saturday, May 15
Strawberry Hill, New Kent, VA, Saturday, May 15
Fair Hill, Fair Hill, MD, Saturday, May 29