Executive Joe Morris is leaving in first management shakeup at Santa Anita

In the first big management move at Santa Anita since Tim Ritvo took over, Joe Morris is leaving his post as senior vice president of West Coast operations for the Stronach Group. The track announced his resignation was effective immediately.

The management tree at Santa Anita had gotten a little crowded with Ritvo’s arrival. Morris had been serving as a general manager and chief operating officer, which is mostly the role that Ritvo had assumed.

Ritvo said there are no current plans to fill Morris’ position.

“We will evaluate the current staff to see if anyone could succeed him in that position,” Ritvo told The Times. “But there is no decision on that. In the meantime, I’ll facilitate some of his duties and send off some of his other duties to others on staff.”

Morris, when reached by The Times, said his statement, released by Santa Anita, covered everything.

“At this time of my life, it’s going to be good to get back to my [breeding] farm in Lexington,” Morris said in the statement. “My wife has been running the operation back there and my family has been spread over several thousand miles for quite a few years now and we’re looking forward to spending more time together in a place we all love.”

The speculation was that with Ritvo’s arrival there was a glut of senior managers. Among that group is also Keith Brackpool, whose title is chairman of West Coast operations for the Stronach Group.

“I’m sure there were a few different reasons [for Morris leaving],” Ritvo said. “Whether it be the direction we were headed or too many cooks in the kitchen. The one thing in our opinion is that Joe was an upstanding guy that has worked really hard.

“We were kind of similar in the things we got involved in. Might have been a little bit of crossover.”

Morris also had responsibility for Golden Gate Fields in Northern California.

Morris has been around racing for most of his…

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