The Indiana Horse Racing Commission followed through on Saturday with firing Executive Director Joe Gorajec—a move driven by commissioners' belief that they need a leader more focused on promoting the horse racing industry and less on enforcing regulations.
The commission voted 4-0 to dismiss Gorajec, who had held the post since the state legalized parimutuel wagering 25 years ago, according to reports on the meeting posted on BloodHorse.com and the PaulickReport.com. Gorajec was replaced on an interim basis by Deena Pitman, the assistant executive director of the commission.
IBJ reported Friday
that the commission was poised to oust Gorajec. In an interview that day, Chairman Tom Weatherwax praised Gorajec's performance but said it was time to go in another direction.
“We’re at a crossroads,” said Weatherwax, a Republican who served 24 years as a state senator before retiring in 2008. “It just takes a little different attitude to take it to the next level. We’re going to be doing more to promote and market our business and get more people involved. Everything I’m telling you is economic development.”
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission has five commissioners, one of whom was absent for Saturday's vote. All are appointees of the govenor, who also selects the chairman. Weatherwax said Friday that Gov. Mike Pence supports the commission's handling of the matter.