CHARLESTON, S.C. (Thursday, April 20, 2017) — Jeff Colliton has an agenda item he wants accomplished during his one-year term as chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
And the Gonzaga University graduate from Spokane, Wash., really doesn’t want to wait to the end of his term as chair to declare victory.
“I hope it’s by the end of the day on Thursday,” joked Colliton, the Washington Horse Racing Commission chair who assumed the ARCI chairmanship from Louisiana’s Judy Wagner at the organization’s membership meeting. “By the end of the day, everybody will know it’s Gon-ZAGG-a and it’s located in Spo-CAN.”
Michael J. Hopkins, the longtime executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, moved from ARCI treasurer to chair-elect, with Dr. Corinne Sweeney of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission elected the new treasurer as the three-day conference on Equine Welfare and Racing Integrity came to a close.
Elected to the board were: Sweeney; Robert Lopez, Washington Horse Racing Commission; John F. Wayne, Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission; Tom Sage, Nebraska State Racing Commission; David Lermond, Virginia Racing Commission; Dr. David Kangaloo, Trinidad & Tobago Racing Authority; Edward C. Menton, Mobile County Racing Commission; Charles A. Gardiner III, Louisiana State Racing Commission; Marc A. Guilfoil, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; Larry Eliason, South Dakota Commission on Gaming; Steve Suttie; Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency; Dan Hartman, Colorado Racing Commission; Frank Zanzuccki, New Jersey Racing Commission; Rob Williams, New York State Gaming Commission, and Rick Baedeker, California Horse Racing Board.
Colliton, a Vietnam veteran who last year was inducted into the U.S. Army ROTC National Hall of Fame for Distinguished Civilian Service, retired from the military as a full colonel after serving 26 years as a helicopter pilot and active-duty officer. Having attended Gonzaga University (class of 1962) on a baseball scholarship, Colliton recently fulfilled a “bucket-list” item by traveling with Susan, his wife of 50 years, to see their beloved Zags in the NCAA basketball title game, only to get nipped in the final strides by North Carolina after a protracted stretch duel.
Part of Colliton’s college scholarship requirement was to have a part-time job. You could say his regulatory career in racing began then at the old Playfair Race Course, when he collected urine from horses during post-race testing - known as being the pee-catcher — until getting a job with the photo-finish operator. But Colliton’s racetrack experience began as a tyke, when an aunt and uncle would take him to the races at Playfair, Yakima Meadows and sometimes Longacres near Seattle.
Later, he and his wife, Susan, would partner in owning horses with Colliton’s dad. He has been a pizza-tavern owner, a certified mediator and was on the city council for one term “and the people of Spokane decided I needed another profession,” Colliton said with a laugh. Two years later, however, he was appointed to the Washington Horse Racing Commission, where he has served almost a decade.
Of being ARCI chair, Colliton said, “My first indication, whenever I take over a chairman of something, is not to walk in and change things. In the military, I always told the people who work for me and the people I worked for, ‘Press the listen button rather than the talk button.’”
The military influence has permeated his subsequent professional life.
“I think it’s a bit of the organization and structure that you learn from being a young lieutenant going through processes, and you learn from those who don’t, in my opinion, do things right and those who do things right,” he said. “You learn to treat your subordinates with the respect they are due. You learn to let the staff do their work and step in when you think they might need a little advice.”
Colliton thanked the membership for his selection and congratulated Wagner on her productive term. He also congratulated the compact ARCI staff, headed by president Ed Martin, on the conference.
“There have been a lot of remarks about the different panels and how well-organized and meaningful they were,” he said. “It’s a function of your staff, and I look forward to working with you.”
On efforts to replace or modify the rules pertaining to the use of the whip and riding crop, the ARCI’s model-rules committee voted to create a subcommittee of regulators to consider separate proposals submitted by The Jockey Club and the Jockeys’ Guild, along with extensive comments made at the conference, to come up with language to strengthen and eliminate any ambiguities in the existing model rule.
The membership voted to amend the model rules to make the bronchodilator Clenbuterol a banned substance in Quarter Horse racing and for mixed-breed racing, which would apply to a Thoroughbred competing in a race against other breeds. Horses in such races testing positive for Clenbuterol would not be allowed to compete for six months. The action was urged by the American Quarter Horse Association.
The membership also approved the model rule toward creating uniform veterinarian lists so that horses on the “vet’s list” in one jurisdiction after they are scratched because of a soundness issue are not able to run in another. Model regulations are those that the ARCI crafts and encourages their member jurisdictions to approve in order to have the same rules across the U.S. and Canada.
About ARCI: The Association of Racing Commissioners International is the umbrella organization of the official rule-making bodies for professional horse and greyhound racing in North America and parts of the Caribbean. The RCI sets standards for racing regulation, medication policy, drug-testing laboratories, totalizator systems, racetrack operation and security, including for off-track wagering entities. RCI’s members are the only independent entities recognized to license, enforce and adjudicate matters pertaining to racing. While the RCI, a not-for-profit trade association, has no regulatory authority, its members individually possess regulatory authority within their jurisdictions and solely determine whether or not to adopt RCI recommendations and policies and rules.