Maryland Jockey Club President and CEO Tom Chuckas has resigned from his post effective this weekend. Chuckas had sought a less brutal scheduling arrangement for the three Triple Crown races which are now all run within eight weeks.
Chuckas shares the feeling of many horse racing enthusiasts about the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby is run on the first Saturday in May followed by the Preakness stakes three weeks later and the Belmont Stakes three weeks after that. Since even the best conditioned race horses would seldom undertake three races in two months, Chuckas feels that the schedule is an anachronism and bad for the sport.
He made his thoughts emphatically clear in a May interview with Bloodhorse Magazine: “I think the schedule of two weeks between the Derby and three weeks between the Preakness and Belmont is passé; it’s done. I’m all about tradition. I respect everything that’s happened, but when I sit here today, it doesn’t work anymore.”
Chuckas had planned to ‘start discussions’ after the Belmont Stakes but as of yet no changes have been contemplated. It did, however, spark a lot of conversation heading up to the Belmont Stakes and California Chrome’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to win the Triple Crown.
Chuckas says that Maryland horse racing is in good shape as he leaves his post: “Racing in Maryland is positioning itself for tremendous growth opportunities and I hope for nothing but success in the years to come.”
Stronach Group founder Frank Stronach, whose company also owns Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course as well as Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park and a number of other tracks had nothing but praise for Chuckas: “Tom has been a valuable part of our team over the past six years as the company has worked towards developing a strong foundation to restore Maryland’s racing industry. We very much appreciate his contributions and wish him the best in the next phase of his career.”
Stronach also noted that no successor for Chuckas has been named, nor was there a timetable to do so. Chuckas started his term as Jockey Club President and CEO in 2008.