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Name: Winner, Chuck
Current Position: Chairman

Beverly Hills thoroughbred horse owner and public relations firm founder Charles “Chuck” Winner was elected chairman of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) in December 2013. He replaced interim Chairman David Israel, who took over when Keith Brackpool left after three years.

Winner was first appointed to the board in April 2012 by Governor Jerry Brown. His first vice-chair on the board is actress Bo Derek

Winner, born in 1940, was politically active at an early age. He was a member of the Young Democrats while attending John Marshall High School in Los Angeles and worked for the Democratic National Committee while going to UCLA.

His first political action was working in the 1958 gubernatorial campaign of Governor Pat Brown, the father of Governor Jerry Brown. Winner left school to work on John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960 and did not return. He was at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968, the night Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.

He served as a consultant to local, state and federal campaigns from 1969 to 1975 before co-founding the premier public relations firm Winner Wagner & Associates. Ten years later Winner Wagner & Mandabach Campaigns was added as an affiliate campaign consulting company specializing in ballot measure campaigns, referendums, constitutional amendments and bond measures. Ethan Wagner departed the companies and disappeared from the names in 2002.   

French-owned public relations giant Publicis Consultants purchased a majority stake in what is now Winner & Associates in 2000. Winner is still the president.

Winner became involved in horse racing in 1986, and according to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, he owns at least a piece of 21 horses. 

Winner has served as president of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners and was a board member of Earth Conservation Corps. He was chairman of the Board of Governors of the Cable Access Conveners Association and board member of Mercantile National Bancorp, the Los Angeles Police Foundation and Energy Factors Corporation.

The Horse Racing industry has had some rough years in California. One of the state’s oldest and premier racing venues, Hollywood Park, closed in December, just after Winner became chairman. Nine horses died in nine days at Del Mar racetrack in July 2014, an unusually high number in a sport that experiences a lot of horse deaths.

Between 200 and 400 horses dies each year in California, as tracks bounce back and forth between different racing surfaces, and public scrutiny of horse medicating grows. That prompted Thoroughbred Racing Commentary to suggest to Winner, whose PR firm handles a lot of crisis management, that he was the right man to head the commission.

Winner denied the sport was on the precipice, but said, “If some improvements aren’t made and we don’t turn things around, we could enter into a crisis.”

Winner and his wife, Annie, have four children Nicole, Ethan, Zachary and Justyn.


To Learn More:

Chuck Winner Elected as California Horse Racing Board Chairman (by Steve Andersen, Daily Racing Form)

CHRB Chair Winner Advocating Consensus for Racing (by Hank Wesch, Thoroughbred Racing Commentary)

CHRB Elects Officers for 2014 (California Horse Racing Board) (pdf)

Chuck Winner (National Thoroughbred Racing Association)

Nine Dead Horses in Nine Days at Del Mar Racetrack (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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