The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association issued a statement in which it was stated that the ITHA have named David McCaffrey Executive Director, replacing departing Executive Director Glen Berman who left to take over the Florida HBPA.
McCaffrey, 48, has been a standardbred trainer and owner for the last 25 years and has served in leadership roles with the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association for nearly two decades. He was elected director of the IHHA in 1997, vice president in 2000, and president in 2008. He has more than 1,800 wins as a harness trainer and is a member of the IHHA Hall of Fame.
Over the last three years, McCaffrey led the harness horsemen through a complicated transition that culminated in closure of the Balmoral and Maywood harness tracks and the return of harness racing to Hawthorne Race Course. By all accounts the return to Hawthorne was a success with handle averaging over $900,000 a day and topping the million dollar mark on four separate occasions.
“Illinois has demonstrated to the nation the benefits of synergy between thoroughbred and harness horsemen,” McCaffrey said. “The close working relationship of the ITHA and IHHA, going back several years, is unprecedented. We have been united in our efforts before the Illinois Racing Board and at the Capitol.
“The stakes are high for Illinois horse racing – for owners and trainers, especially, and the tens of thousands of jobs we support at the tracks and across Illinois agribusiness,” he continued. “We remain hopeful the tracks will join us as partners to advance the sport we all love and treasure. We provide the product and they provide the platform. Simply put, we need each other; we would be well served to work together toward fair and equitable solutions to our industry’s challenges.”
McCaffrey was clear where the priorities for the organization lay.
“Our principal priority as Illinois horsemen is passing the gaming bill to position Illinois racing to compete with jurisdictions already using slots at tracks to dramatically improve purses,” McCaffrey said. “But as we continue working to accomplish that goal, we must also do everything we can to maximize live racing, protect and enhance purses, and preserve our state’s breeding industry.”
McCaffrey was scheduled to begin his tenure with the ITHA this week.