Earlier today, The Racing Biz broke the news that the Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA) had fired its longtime executive director, Glenn Petty. The termination, which has caused some dissent among members of the organization’s board of directors, came as a surprise to him, Petty said.
Our Nick Hahn spoke with Petty, who was frustrated with both the decision itself and the process that occasioned it. “I am dismayed by the recent actions of the VTA Board effectively terminating me from my position as Executive Director with no warning and without the benefit of an explanation either before or after the Monday’s secret meeting,” Petty said. “I believe some directors believe that national trends are moving upward and that Virginia should be following a growth pattern that doesn’t appear to really exist here in the Mid-Atlantic. I believe the big problem in Virginia is what I call the ‘invisible Thoroughbred and the invisible breeder’ and they are invisible because they aren’t here in the Commonwealth. I surmise, a group of VTA directors seemingly want to blame me for the downward trends that are so apparent locally, regionally and nationally.”
Monday’s meeting spurred at least two angry emails from board members, sources said, in part because of a process that some believe could have been handled better. “The circumstances are confusing to say the least,” Petty opined. “In spite of VTA policy, and how past personnel matters have been handled during the period that I have long served as either a director or as the Executive Director, I was given no details about what issues precipitated their action. Honestly, I’m bewildered by the tactics and lack of a process.”
Nevertheless, Petty said that he remains proud of the work he has done in a career stretching more than 30 years. “I have appreciated the support of various industry leaders, owners, trainers and breeders that have come to my defense and shown me great support the past few days. I leave knowing that I have given 30 plus years to an industry I love and am tirelessly devoted to. I am proud of my work in bringing and maintaining pari-mutual racing to Virginia and developing a working Breeders’ Fund, and I look forward to continuing to contribute in meaningful ways to our industry.”
Mr.Petty was seen as too comfortable in his position and not open to criticism. It would have been preferable to allow Mr. Petty to gracefully move on at the proper time, rather than the way it was handled. His situation is not unique to horse racing, it happens everywhere.