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Woodbine Entertainment hires longtime trainer Dan Vella as Horse People Liaison

Jockey Daisuke Fukumoto rides Mighty Heart to victory during the running of the 161st Queen's Plate at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on Saturday, September 12, 2020. Woodbine Entertainment has hired longtime trainer Dan Vella as its Horse People Liaison. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO — Woodbine Entertainment has hired longtime trainer Dan Vella as its Horse People Liaison.

Vella will assume his new position April 1. He'll serve as point of contact for owners and trainers regarding race conditions, track surface matters, backstretch maintenance, equine safety and race-day logistics.

The 67-year-old amassed more than 800 career wins and $39 million in earnings over five decades as a conditioner.

"I am so excited to have this opportunity to work for Woodbine and continue to be involved in the industry and sport that has given me so much," Vella said in a statement released Tuesday. "I have had the privilege of racing throughout North America and I can say firsthand that Woodbine is a top racetrack operator that has incredibly passionate and talented horse people — all of which contributes to some of the best thoroughbred racing on the continent."

Vella is a two-time Queen's Plate winner (1994 with Basqueian, 2012 Strait of Dover). He was named Canada's top trainer in 1994 and 1995.

He was elected to the HBPA board of directors in 2021 but recently stepped away from the post.

"Dan is a highly regarded figure on our backstretch that has his finger on the pulse of our racing community,” Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson said. "Having the ability to add someone like Dan, who has spent over 50 years on our backstretch and enjoyed success at our highest levels, is a big boost for our stakeholder relationships."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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