Virginia Racing Commision (VRC) Chairperson D.G. Van Clief, Jr. announced today that he will be stepping away from his role with the VRC in order to serve on the Board of the Federal Trade Commission’s new Horse Racing Integrity & Safety Authority. The announcement came during Monday’s VRC meeting at Colonial Downs — its first in-person session since December, 2019.
Van Clief was invited to be one of nine directors on the new Authority and only one of four to be chosen from the horse racing industry — the other five are independent and will come from the outside the industry. The Authority has been tasked with assembling a body of recommendations related to medication rules, and enforcing those, along with safety protocols and enforcement of those, by next February.
Van Clief received special recognition from long time VRC Commissioner J. Sargeant Reynolds, Jr., who took over as Chairman beginning with today’s session. This will be Mr. Reynolds’ second stint as Chairman.
“This association (with Virginia horse racing stakeholders) isn’t about to be over,” Van Clief said to the gathering after he received a commemoration plaque for his service. “I’m just going to be leaning on you in a different way moving forward. Part of my job is to represent everyone in this room in my next position.”
“I’m happy I got a chance to come to this meeting and explain to my colleagues in the industry where I was going, why I was going and when I was going,” he added. “Things have been moving fast since I was invited to serve. There’s a lot to do in a short period of time and I’ll probably be calling on you for help and advice.”
Reflecting on his time in Virginia, and especially the challenges the industry faced after Colonial Downs initially closed in 2014, Van Clief referenced the unique Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) business model as the major factor in helping move the industry forward in a quick manner.
“When all four VEA member groups — the VHBPA, VTA, VHHA and Virginia Gold Cup — all coalesced under one not-for-profit umbrella, it gave the industry immediate credibility, political clout, a common will and a common voice. It’s amazing what that allows you to get done and the fast track we’ve been on in Virginia since. We’ve seen rapid growth the last several years and the re-emergence of what I think is going to be one of the nation’s best boutique race meetings this summer at Colonial Downs.”
“I’m honored to have been asked to serve on the VRC and thank my fellow commissioners for the privilege of serving with them,” Van Clief added. “The Executive staff has done an amazing amount of work with a very small staff and provided great leadership in putting its best foot forward. I’m delighted to have been along for the ride and honored to have served my home state.”