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Promotions Manager to Take Reins of Santa Anita Park

CEO Mark Verge calls departure "win-win."

Santa Anita Park promotions manager John Niedzweidz and President George Haines will take over for outgoing CEO Mark Verge — at least on a temporary basis — track spokesman Mike Willman said.

Verge, whom Santa Anita owner Frank Stronach hired in March in hopes of luring in a new generation to the track, resigned Thursday. Verge is the track's tenth executive since Stronach bought it in 1998.

Stronach could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, Patch caught up with Verge just before he boarded a plane to the Bahamas with his wife, Lani. 

Calling his stepping down "a win-win," Verge said his outside projects didn't allow him the time he needed to devote to the park.

"I just have a ton of work going on," he said. "It takes somebody to be there full-time...It was just getting too much."

Verge owns more than a dozen businesses, including a number of bars, restaurants and hotels. But his most well-known venture is Westside Rentals, a business he founded in 1995 that lists rental properties.

A number of people Verge hired have also stepped down. Those include Jimmy Dunne,  Santa Anita’s Chief Creative Officer and the writer of the track's theme song,, “My California." Cedd Moses, a cocktail impresario in the Los Angeles area brought on as beverage consultant, is also leaving, and director of sponsorship Damien Lewis, among others.

Willman could not confirm whether KISS frontman Gene Simmons  will be brought on-board as a marketing consultant or track executive. The Paulick Report, a national horse racing newsletter, reported Oct. 18 that Simmons had been engaged in high-level meetings concerning Santa Anita with Frank Stronach’s daughter, Belinda, and others from the corporate office of the Stronach Group.

Santa Anita Park opens its winter-spring meeting on Dec. 26.

T Simon November 14, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Oh Boy. Now we have the unwilling leading the pack. Not only is this guy the worst pick but his allegieance to Santa Anita is will documented. I wish him well.
T Simon November 14, 2012 at 03:51 AM
John is a kiss ass and well embedded with the rest of the Santa Anita assholes.
T Simon November 14, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Now Randall Hartzell can take charge of this guy and be even further up George Haines ruby red ass.
Rail Bird November 16, 2012 at 03:43 PM
John Niedzweidz does not know jack about Horse Players and George is a puppet in a suit. Sounds like we are in for a real treat this winter meet
T Simon December 29, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Thanks John for a rousing opening day. At least there was plenty of room to move around. Can't wait for the summer concerts.

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