Thirty years after first taking the position of racing secretary at Los Alamitos, Ron Church will retire from the racing office at the Orange County track following Sunday's closing night program of the 2015 meet.
"Churchie" has been producing racing cards at Los Alamitos since 1985, following up a similar position at Pompano Park in Florida. Church also spent time as a jockey's agent, and began as an entry clerk in the racing office before advancing to racing secretary.
"I came out in the mid-1970s and I was Jim Dreyer's agent," he said. "I also worked for Donald Allison and Danny Mitchell. Dreyer then recommended me to Curly Smith for a position in the racing office. That's how I got my foot in the door. I worked in the racing office and learned a lot from Curly.
"Years later I was clocking horses at Bay Meadows one morning and Frank ‘Scoop’ Vessels and Dennis Moore came walking by. We talked for a while and they mentioned how they were going to need a racing secretary. By the time they walked away I think they had hired me. Millie Vessels called me a few mornings later to make my hiring official.”
For the past 15 years, Church has been one of the busiest racing secretaries in the state, carding anywhere between 200 to 150 program per year. He wrote the conditions that differentiate every race that runs at Los Alamitos and a great working relationship with trainers and owners alike.
"My major concern was always to give the horses an opportunity to run," he said. "Our goal was always to put together the best racing program possible for our loyal patrons.
"I worked with some great people and horsemen over the years. Pete Wood, Sheila Hart, and Scott Craigmyle come to mind and surely my present staff led by Ed Reese and so many other dedicated employees. I also owe a lot to Jimmy Dreyer. I worked for him when he was riding and he helped me when I first got hired here. Of course, I have to thank Dr. Ed Allred for everything he's done for this industry and his continued support of our Quarter Horse racing program. It's been great working at Los Alamitos and I've had a lot of fun. Time really flew. I can't believe it's been 30 years, but it really has been fun."
Church, along with his wife Debra, will vacation in Hawaii in January. He plans to do a lot of traveling and will continue to strive to lower his golf handicap. Church will stay in touch in racing at Los Alamitos. He has been retained by the track as consultant to interim racing secretary, Ed Reese.