Robert P. Benoit, 81, a former Southern California thoroughbred racing executive who was associated with Hollywood Park for many years, died Friday of pneumonia at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood after a lengthy illness.
Benoit, who began working in the publicity department at Hollywood Park in the 1950s, became director of publicity in 1969. He eventually was elected to the board of directors and was named chief operating officer and general manager in 1977. He also was instrumental in forming the Race Track Chaplaincy of California.
In 1980, he co-founded and became president of Benoit and Associates, which handles track photography on the Southern California thoroughbred racing circuit.
In 2004, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award for serving the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction.
Benoit was born Feb. 8, 1927, in Gary, Ind., and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1945. After serving in the Army, he attended UCLA, where he was night sports editor of the Daily Bruin, writing a turf column and handicapping Southland races. He left UCLA to become sports editor of the Inglewood Daily News in 1951. Two years later, he took a seasonal job working on the Hollywood Park publicity staff and became a year-round staff member in 1955.