Board of Directors
The Edwin J. Gregson Foundation has been in existence for since 1998, and in each of those years, and has increased its funding and its support for scholarships and other important programs. During the past year, the Foundation made a commitment to increase industry involvement by expanding its Board of Directors to include non-trainer members who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for backstretch workers and their family members. We are pleased to introduce the members of our Board and we are grateful for their time and efforts.
President of the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation and past President of California Thoroughbred Trainers. Jenine has headed the Gregson Foundation since July 2001, finds it a highly worthwhile cause, and has been particularly motivated by its role in providing financial educational help for children of stable area workers.
Since obtaining her trainer's license in 1993, Jenine achieved several significant firsts. She became the first female trainer to win a Breeders' Cup race, with Lit de Justice in the 1996 Sprint. She is the only female trainer to win two Breeders' Cup races, repeating in the Sprint in 1997 with Elmhurst. She became the first female trainer to win the Santa Anita Derby with The Deputy in 2000.
Daughter of prominent California thoroughbred horse breeders Fred and Helen Sahadi, Jenine graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism/communications and worked for seven years in the marketing and publicity departments at Hollywood Park before turning to the backstretch. Jenine retired as a thoroughbred trainer in 2011.
Trainer Jim Cassidy was born and raised in New York, NY. Began working with hunters and jumpers at a riding academy in Old Brookville, L.I., before shifting to New York tracks under trainers Joe Cantey and Frank Whiteley, the latter when he conditioned the legendary filly Ruffian in 1974 and 1975.
Moved west to assist trainer Gerry Moerman and continued in similar capacities under Sid Martin, Darrell Vienna, and Brian Mayberry before becoming a veterinarian's assistant for nine years on the Southern California circuit. He took out his trainer's license in the mid 1990's.
In 2004, won his first Grade 1 stake with English import Ticker Tape in the $750,000 American Oaks at Hollywood Park and Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland later that year. Though many successes, he reached a bigger milestone at Del Mar in 2006 when Moscow Burning, a 6-year-old mare, became the career earnings leader for California-bred females. Claimed for $25,000 in 2003, Moscow Burning passed Fran's Valentine to assume the top rung with earnings of more than $1.4 million.
Cassidy enjoyed a banner 2009-2010, headed by two California-breds, which earned him the award of 2010 CTBA Trainer of the Year: The Usual Q.T. and Evening Jewel. In 2009, the Usual Q.T. won the Del Mar Derby (G2), Oak Tree Derby (G2), and Hollywood Derby (G1), followed by the Sunshine Millions Turf and Eddie Read Stakes (G1) in 2010. Evening Jewel won the 2010 Ashland Stakes (G1), Honeymoon Handicap (G2), San Clemente Handicap (G2), and Del Mar Oaks (G1). For 2010, The Usual Q.T. was named CTBA Turf Horse and Older Male of the Year, and Evening Jewel 3YO Filly, as well as top billing of Horse of the Year.
Cassidy continues operation of his racing stable based in Southern California. He is former president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT), the state recognized organization representing thoroughbred trainers in California.
This Hall of Fame jockey has made the transition from riding star to bloodstock agent. Learning about pedigrees and attending sales, he remains in touch with the sport buying and consulting, as well as being a minor owner and breeder.
The jockey characterized as having ice water flowing through his veins retired on January 13, 2003, after riding 6,384 winners, eleventh on the all-time list from 39,201 mounts for purse earnings of $195,801,624. He won the Kentucky Derby in consecutive years aboard Gato del Sol for Eddie Gregson in 1982 and Sunny's Halo for David Cross, Jr., in 1983. He also won the 1988 Preakness and Belmont stakes with Risen Star and the 1992 Belmont with A.P. Indy en route to Horse of the Year honors. He has won seven Breeders' Cup races: with A.P. Indy, Princess Rooney, Hollywood Wildcat, Pleasant Stage, Thirty Slews, Cardmania, and Prized.
Born into a Louisiana racing family, he rode quarter horses and mixed breeds at 10 before turning to Thoroughbreds. He broke his maiden at Evangeline Downs in 1968 and went on to riding titles at Fair Grounds, Keeneland, Arlington Park, and Churchill Downs before moving west in 1979. He continued with titles at Santa Anita, Oak Tree, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1993. He is also a recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award and of an Espy Award and is a member of both the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Stephanie Hronis, part of the Eclipse Award-winning ownership family that has campaigned champions Accelerate and Stellar Wind, joined the Gregson Foundation Board in February 2019. Stephanie's lifelong background in education and her passion for the betterment of the backstretch community make her a perfect fit for the mission of the Gregson Foundation.
Hronis spent more than 20 years in education as a school counselor, faculty member at the graduate and community college levels, and as a Family Resource Center Director for the Lindsay Unified School District. Much of her career brought her in contact with the migrant farmworker communities of Central California, working with kindergarten through adult-aged students to access educational resources and plan for college and working careers.
"I have great respect and appreciation for the hard work and talent of those taking exceptional care of the horses," Hronis said. "I am very honored to be a part of the Gregson Foundation, and I look forward to advocating for and assisting family members of backside workers seeking post-secondary education or training."
Hronis is married to Kosta Hronis and, with their family, saw their Hronis Racing colors carried to victory in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs by Accelerate, subsequently named Eclipse Award Older Male Dirt Champion. Their filly Stellar Wind was champion 3-year-old filly of 2015.
Gail Gregson, wife of the late Eddie Gregson, has been a member of the Foundation named in his memory for seventeen years. Ms. Gregson, born in San Francisco, is a lifelong horsewoman. Her involvement with the racing industry began in Middleburg, Va., where she broke yearlings and developed an interest in bloodlines, while working in pedigree research. Gregson returned to California at the suggestion of a friend, Bill Perry. "Bill helped me to get a job galloping horses for John Canty and that's where I met Eddie." The couple married that year and, in 1970, had twin daughters, Brooke and Esme. Gregson remained active with racing after marriage through her rehabilitation program and re-training of ex racehorses for hunters, jumpers, and other venues. She has also served two terms on the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Board and has been a member of the California Thoroughbred Foundation for the past 15 years.
"I am very proud to serve on this Board and be a part of Eddie's vision, which was to provide support and encouragement for backstretch workers and their children to have better lives. We hope to accomplish this with an ongoing scholarship program, funded by events such as the Eddie Gregson annual fundraising dinner. This would not be possible without the tireless efforts of Jenine Sahadi, Angie Carmona, and the rest of the Board."
Halpern is former Executive Director and General Counsel of the California Thoroughbred Trainers association, a position he described as a perfect amalgamation of his backgrounds in law, business, and horse racing. A Los Angeles native, he spent much of his youth around horses at a ranch in Canoga Park, riding in local shows and going to the races. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in finance in 1964 and earned a degree in law from Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley in 1967. Upon graduation, he worked for a public poverty law entity. He then entered private practice in 1971 in Santa Monica, practicing law and starting a real estate development and management company.
During the 1970's, he became involved with harness horses at Hollywood Park and bred, raised, and broke standardbreds at his home in Malibu. In 1989, he took out his thoroughbred trainer's license. An owner and breeder, he remains active in the thoroughbred industry serving on the Board of the Gregson Foundation.
Jill joined the Gregson Foundation Board of Directors in December 2017. She is a former television news anchor and reporter in Louisville, KY, where she covered racing at Churchill Downs. Since moving to California, she has been active in racing through her husband's stable and has owned several graded stakes winners, including Maybellene, Contested, and Misremembered.
Jill serves on the board of Old Friends, Operation Walk L.A., and is an advisory board member of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. She is a founding member of the I Am Horse Racing initiative, which serves to bring awareness and give a voice to the thousands of women and men who work in the horse racing industry. She was also recently appointed to the Kentucky Derby Museum Board of Directors.
Jay Hovdey, who spent 20 years as executive columnist for Daily Racing Form, is among a select group of journalists included on the Joe Hirsch Honor Roll of the National Museum of Racing and Racing Hall of Fame. His work has appeared in such publications as Reader's Digest, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Blood-Horse, the Thoroughbred Record, and the Horsemen's Journal. He is the author of four books on horse racing, including biographies of Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham and two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, and was a writer for the HBO horse racing series "Luck." Hovdey has been honored with five Eclipse Awards, Canada's Sovereign Award, the Joe Hirsch Breeders' Cup Award, the David F. Woods Award for coverage of the Preakness, and the Walter Haight Award for career excellence from the National Turf Writers Association. He lives near Del Mar with his wife, Hall of Fame Jockey Julie Krone, and their daughter, Lorelei.
LEIGH ANN HOWARD
Although busy with a variety of projects, Leigh Ann still finds time to stay involved with the California Thoroughbred industry. A licensed trainer since 1983 through 2011, she was General Manager of San Luis Rey Downs Thoroughbred Training Center in Bonsall from 2001 to 2010. She was the first President of California Thoroughbred Trainers after Eddie Gregson and a former member of the CTT Backstretch Employees' Cash Balance Pension Plan Administrative Committee.
In addition, Howard is on the board of directors and a past president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and on the board of directors of the California Farm Managers Association. She is active with the informational booths involving horses at the annual Ag Day held at the California State Capital.
""My husband, Jon Kelly, and I got into the sport of racing in 1997," says Sarah. "We started out with two fillies and our trainer was Eddie Gregson. Eddie became a wonderful mentor and friend to us in the thoroughbred business. We now have horses in Kentucky, California, Ireland, and Australia, with runners at a variety of tracks.
""We have totally enjoyed our involvement in racing and the friendships that we have made. One of our greatest pleasures, however, is seeing our broodmares and foals in the fields at our farm in Rancho Santa Fe.
"I enjoy serving on the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation, and I am hopeful that our Board will be able to help many children of backstretch workers reach their educational goals."
F. JACK LIEBAU, JR.
Chief Financial Officer
Liebau has been a thoroughbred owner and breeder for more than 30 years. He is a former volunteer on the Administrative Committee of the CTT Backstretch Employees' Cash Balance Pension Plan, overseeing California's pension plan for stable area workers, and is a former director on the NTRA-PAC Board.
Jack is currently Chairman of Myers Industries, and has also served on the boards of Pep Boys, Herley Industries, and Media General. He was former President and CEO of Roundwood Asset in New York and Liebau Asset Management in Pasadena, California. A graduate of Phillips Academy (Andover) and Stanford University, he worked in The White House Press Office of George H.W. Bush.
Liebau, his wife, Carol, and their twin children live in New Canaan, CT.
PATRICIA GREGSON MILLINGTON
"Although I am not involved in horse racing, my one qualification for being on the Board would be as Eddie's sister," says Millington. "We were both raised with Thoroughbred horses on The Conejo Ranch, which was Eddie's inspiration to continue this passion as his life's focus.
"I ran a ranch in Idaho for 35 years, kept mares in foal, and once raised a colt for Eddie that he took to the track. 'Dante's Inferno' won his first race. I am honored to have served on the Board that helped Eddie's dream come true of education for the backstretch employees."
A life-long fan and current horse owner, Andrew is the Founder and CEO of Swander Pace Capital. Established in 1996, the firm is based in San Francisco and New Jersey and focuses on buyouts in the consumer products industry. Currently, he is also the Chairman of Bragg Live Food Products and the Voortman Cookie Company. Andrew received an MBA from Harvard Business School and an AB cum laude in Fine Arts from Harvard University. He is an Advisory Board member of the National Museum of Racing and a Trustee of the Newark Museum.
Samantha has owned horses with her parents, Jan and Mace, since 1984. She currently manages the family-built racing operation of approximately 70 horses that runs under Jay Em Ess Stable.
Eddie Gregson trained many winners for Jan, including Ardiente, winner of the 1979 Del Mar Handicap. The family campaigned many stakes horses, including champion 2-year-old Declan's Moon and Grade I stakes winners Stormy but Valid, Urbane, I Believe in You, I Ain't Bluffing, Rail Trip, and By the Moon. They also own 2007 Strub stakes winner Arson Squad.
In the past, Samantha has served on the board of the California Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association (CHBPA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). She is currently a board member of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) and California Retirement Management Account (CARMA).