After a four-year tenure at Virginia’s Colonial Downs, vice president of racing operations Jill Byrne will step aside after the company’s sale to Churchill Downs, Inc., reports The Racing Biz. Though CDI offered Byrne a chance to stay on, she ultimately decided to take a different path.
“It was four years of what we did to get to this point to make Colonial Downs and Virginia racing so valuable to Churchill Downs,” Byrne told The Racing Biz. “It was exhausting and rewarding at the same time when you’re the one person responsible for the entire racing part of it — the safety and everything that goes with it. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”
Byrne joined Colonial Downs from Breeders’ Cup Limited where she served two years as senior director of Industry Relations focusing on the promotion and coordination of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series connecting owners, trainers and horses to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and with industry constituents and fans. She additionally produced the Player’s Show, the official Breeders’ Cup World Championships simulcast signal along with the Morning Works show. Prior to Breeders’ Cup, Byrne was the director of Broadcast and Programing at Churchill Downs Racetrack for nearly a decade, overseeing broadcast and production of Churchill Downs race product including the Kentucky Oaks & Derby.
Prior to working at Churchill Downs, Byrne was a host, racing analyst and reporter for TVG. Growing up in a Virginia horse family, she spent countless hours in the stable area galloping and caring for Thoroughbreds trained by her father Pete Howe, who conditioned Eclipse Award winners Soothesayer and Proud Delta. These are the beginnings of her passion for horseracing, launching an era working with then husband Patrick Byrne, trainer of 1997 Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award winners Favorite Trick and Countess Diana as well as 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again.
Despite the loss of her father in September, Byrne plans to remain active in the horse racing industry.
“I look forward to continue to make a positive impact in the horse racing industry that has literally been my life from the day I was born,” she said.
Read more at The Racing Biz.