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Thursday, October 10, 2019

What Would You Fix First? National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback’s Commentary in TDN

Eric Hamelback, the CEO of the National HBPA, has penned a commentary in Thoroughbred Daily News addressing the rights and representation of racehorse owners in the industry.

“Unless racehorse owners are able to organize themselves and respond to challenges with one voice from their representative horsemen’s organizations, the industry will weaken. This is a high-level view, but I believe this is an origin point of many industry issues we currently face,” he wrote.

Read the full column on the Thoroughbred Daily News website.

RTCA to Raffle Toro or Exmark Mower as a Fundraiser

The Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA), in partnership with the National HBPA and Equine Equipment, is pleased to announced a fundraising raffle to help the organization further its goal of serving the racing industry.

The RTCA will be selling 200 raffle tickets at $50 each for a chance to win a commercial Toro or Exmark mower valued at up to $8,300. The mower is being donated by Equine Equipment with the support of the National HBPA.

The RTCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Christian organization whose purpose is to minister to the wide range of needs of workers within the horse racing industry.

“The National HBPA’s motto is ‘horsemen helping horsemen,’ so we are proud to support organizations like the RTCA that do so much to support the hard-working people in the horse racing industry,” said Eric Hamelback, the National HBPA’s CEO. “We encourage all horsemen to support the RTCA, either through buying a raffle ticket or by making a donation to help this worthy organization.”

“I am honored to represent companies like Toro and Exmark that not only provide discounts to the entire horse world on the industry’s best-selling products but are also generous corporate citizen with their support of organizations like the RTCA,” said Steve Andersen, founder of Equine Equipment. “I have seen firsthand the dedication of the racetrack chaplains, so to support them is the right thing to do. To do it in conjunction with the National HBPA shows the commitment that horsemen and women have to supporting the chaplaincy and a job well-done by all.”

“We want to thank everyone at Equine Equipment and the National HBPA for this incredible donation,” said Dan Waits, Executive Director of the RTCA. “Our partners are an important part of the RTCA story and mission. It’s because of their support that the Chaplains, councils and volunteers of RTCA can serve the estimated 450,000 employees of the horse racing industry. From the shedrows to the front office, these faithful servants minister to the spiritual, emotional, physical, social and educational needs of everyone involved.”

Tickets can be purchased by calling (859) 410-7822 or by emailing  Tickets will also be available at the RTCA’s White Horse Awards to be held October 31 prior to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park. The winner will be drawn at the University of Arizona’s Global Symposium on Racing set for December 9-11. For more details, go to the RTCA website at

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen’s Journal Fall 2019 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Fall 2019 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of the printed magazine, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

The Truth About Medication, Veterinary Care and Breakdowns
It’s important to examine the facts and research about what causes and what does not cause catastrophic injuries

Getting Back on Track
Track superintendents are serious about improving safety for horses and riders

Access Denied
Why the Jerry Hollendorfer vs. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club case is important for all horsemen

Driving Demand for Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses
The Retired Racehorse Project and Thoroughbred Makeover are raising the profile of the breed away from the racetrack

Much more than a PDF, the interactive electronic edition of The Horsemen’s Journal includes the ability to save, print, email, or share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Please enjoy this exciting offering from the National HBPA and share it with anyone you think might enjoy it.

All hyperlinks/URLs and email addresses in the electronic edition are working, clickable links. So be sure to click on some of them – especially those in the advertisements to get more information on the great products and services being offered by the companies supporting your horsemen’s organization.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Aztec Sense Named National HBPA Claiming Crown Horse of the Year

Aztec Sense sewed up 2018 Claiming Crown Horse of the Year honors in an 8-for-8 season capped by winning the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park. (Kenny Martin photo)
Joseph Besecker’s Aztec Sense has been selected as the National HBPA’s 2018 Claiming Crown Horse of the Year following a remarkable season in which the 5-year-old gelding went 8 for 8 and earned $408,540, his five stakes capped by the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park.
The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association selects its Claiming Crown Horse of the Year from horses that participated in the 2018 Claiming Crown championships. The winner is chosen by the NHBPA Industry Awards committee.

The Claiming Crown was created by the National HBPA and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) to stage a Breeders’ Cup-style championship for claiming horses, the blue-collar workhorses that are the backbone of most tracks' racing programs.

Besecker, who currently ranks No. 3 in North America with 118 wins this year and eighth in purses at more than $3 million, views the Claiming Crown Horse of the Year Award as recognition of his philosophy that he calls the three Ps.

“If you have the right process and the right people, you’ll get performance,” he said. “… I’m a claiming owner; I’m not a $200,000, $400,000 buyer of 2-year-olds or yearlings. I love the Claiming Crown, the concept of the Claiming Crown. The people who run it deserve a lot of credit because they treat the meat-and-potatoes people like the Breeders’ Cup. I’ve been a fan of the Claiming Crown for a long time. You’re recognizing what really is the every day people of racing, the claiming part. That’s where I am.”

The Claiming Crown Horse of the Year Award will be presented Sept. 7 at TOBA's 34th annual Red Brand National Awards Dinner at Fasig-Tipton in Lexington. The National HBPA, which represents about 30,000 Thoroughbred owners and trainers throughout the United States and Canada, is a sponsor of the dinner.

The National Awards Dinner honors owners and breeders from 22 states and Canada. Also recognized are the National Owner of the Year and National Owner Finalists, National Breeder of the Year, Small Breeder of the Year, Broodmare of the Year, Racing Partnership of the Year, Rood & Riddle Sport Horse of the Year, Industry Service Award and recipient of the Robert N. Clay Award. The new Racing Partnership of the Year award was created to recognize the growing impact partnerships and syndicates have on Thoroughbred ownership.

More information about the dinner here

At Besecker’s request, trainer Jorge Navarro claimed Aztec Sense for $12,500 at Parx Racing two years ago after the gelding had lost a $25,000 claiming race by 32 lengths. The Kentucky-bred son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense won an entry-level allowance race in his first start for his new connections before ending his 2017 season with a fourth place in the $110,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit at seven furlongs. He is unbeaten since, including his only start at age 6 in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper on Gulfstream Park’s Pegasus World Cup card. That race also gave Navarro his 1,000th win as a trainer. It was bitter-sweet, however, as Aztec Sense came out of the race with an ankle chip.

“He had a surgery that went extremely well, and hopefully we’ll get him back to where he was,” Besecker said. “He’s back in training and doing really well.”

Besecker, who lives in Lancaster, Pa., owns a research and investment management firm. And he thought Aztec Sense had talent that hadn't materialized when he was claimed.

“He showed some promise in some races early," he said."When he didn’t run well, they dropped him in for the $12,500. But he had a couple of really strong glimpses. Whoever had him every time, no matter if he was coming up a little short, they had to have liked him because they kept running in maiden special weight races. That was my whole point: ‘Look, these people must think they have something. The light bulb hasn’t clicked on yet, but it looks like they think it will.’ Luckily Jorge was there and he looked at him. He said, ‘Yeah, I kind of like this horse.’ So we took him. Then, in less than a week, he called and said, ‘We might have something pretty good here.’

“You get excited, but you don’t want to get too excited. When he ran at Gulfstream the first time in the Claiming Crown, we were pretty excited. But he got in all kinds of trouble. Then we just started him on the run. He’s won 10 of the 11 races we’ve had him. That is a dream. I’ve been claiming horses since the 1980s, and this is what you hope for. Doesn’t always work out.”

Aztec Sense earlier this year was named Parx Racing’s 2018 Horse of the Year. The gelding won four races at Parx, his three stakes there including the $150,000 Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Calling Horse Racing’s Heroes: White Horse Award Nomination Deadline is September 27

A hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. There are heroes all around the horse racing industry, and the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) wants to recognize these selfless servants.

The RTCA is currently seeking nominees for our 17th Annual White Horse Awards. These awards are presented annually at the White Horse Awards program. This year’s program will take place on Thursday, October 31, at Santa Anita in Arcadia, California, just prior to the beginning of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships being held at the same track. It is a way to recognize those unsung heroes of horse racing, whether their actions are headline-grabbing or the quiet and not-so-obvious kind of heroism.

Nominees are being sought for the following awards:
White Horse Award - An award given to individuals who have done something heroic on behalf of human or horse.
Community Service Award - An award given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the welfare of racetrack chaplaincy ministries.

To submit a nomination for either the White Horse or Community Service Awards, visit for a complete list of rules and selection criteria, as well as nomination forms. The deadline for submission is September 27, 2019. For more information, please contact the RTCA National Service Center at (859) 410-7822.

Friday, July 26, 2019

What the National HBPA is Doing to Protect Horses

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) was recently asked by The Paulick Report to summarize, “what is NHBPA doing to protect the health and welfare of horses?” At the NHBPA, we are proud of our many initiatives on this front.

At the core of the National HBPA mission is encouraging the highest standards of horsemanship so as to continuously improve the care, health and safety of the horse. These are the guiding principles for all that we do; the better our equine athletes do, the better we do, the better horse racing does. National HBPA understands, intrinsically, that protecting the health and welfare of our horses is not only in the best interest of the horses, but also in horsemen’s interest, as well.

Some specific examples of National HBPA actions to protect the health and welfare of our horses include:

  • NHBPA follows scientifically validated medical recommendations of the nation’s leading veterinary organizations. NHBPA is explicit in its belief that health care decisions on individual horses should always involve a veterinarian, with the best interests of the horse as the primary objective;
  • NHBPA is advocating for the establishment of an office within the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Lab (NVSL) that will oversee and establish absolute uniform laboratory protocols;
  • NHBPA is advocating for a mandatory national horse racing checkoff program. This new program would generate funds needed to support the many initiatives designed to improve welfare and safety of horses and riders, such as underwriting medical research, enhancements to equine safety and testing uniformity;
  • NHBPA supports random Out Of Competition Testing for prohibited substances, with 100% of our samples tested in laboratories accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the single most important standard for calibration and testing laboratories around the world. This off-the-track testing helps ensure the integrity of our industry;
  • NHBPA demands horses that become injured during racing and training are placed on a veterinarians’ list that is in place to prevent entry in any racing jurisdiction until properly cleared to race again by veterinarians in 100% of the jurisdictions;
  • NHBPA also advocates that all horses entered to race should be subjected to pre-race veterinary examinations to ensure compliance with accepted flexion, palpation, and observation standards, and that veterinarians’ lists must be nationally published and mutually enforced among racing jurisdictions – no exceptions;
  • NHBPA and affiliates advocate and fund research toward understanding and reducing equine injuries, illnesses, preventive medicine, responsible training and the humane treatment of our racehorses;
  • NHBPA advocates for initiatives improving policies to inform and continue education for trainers while supporting owners and veterinarians.
  • NHBPA seeks mandatory protocols for every track to undergo an independent surface materials analysis and assessment every year;
  • NHBPA supports the continued development, adoption, implementation and enforcement of nationwide uniform rules that promote safety and integrity in racing; and
  • NHBPA passionately supports the continued development and enhancement of off-the-track Thoroughbred retirement facilities and adoption groups along with programs at affiliated racetracks providing for the aftercare of our horses when their racing careers are over.

This is just the beginning; we at the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association know we must – and we can – do even more to ensure that each horse everywhere in the United States is given the attention and protection it deserves. We will continue to look to national veterinary medical leadership for guidance in the process. National HBPA embraces this responsibility and remains open to serious, substantive and scientifically-backed reforms that protect the health and welfare of our equine athletes.

A personal note: One of my blessings during my career with horses was spending many years with a special horse named Remington. Remington was enjoying a second career as a polo pony when I met him, and he taught me more about the game than any human. He enjoyed a long, productive and happy life long after his racing days were behind him.

We owe it to the horses to reward them for all they give us as owners, breeders and racing fans – to provide them well-deserved rest and care once their racing saddles have been removed for the last time. The thoroughbred industry must embrace this responsibility of care through contributions to organizations such as the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

Eric J. Hamelback
CEO, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association

Thursday, July 4, 2019

National HBPA and THA: There must be a fair process that gives horsemen right to confront allegations of wrongdoing

Due process is a fundamental and accepted constitutional right in our country. In a government sanctioned and regulated industry, it is required. Every person in our industry who holds a license to participate is given a right to due process when their livelihood is threatened. We are an industry that operates according to rules and regulations, standards are clear, violations have consequences and we are transparent.

The situation which occurred recently at Santa Anita from the Stronach Group regarding Jerry Hollendorfer has clearly sidestepped those rights and exemplifies our concerns. By this action, every licensee in racing is on notice of potential arbitrary career-ending actions by racetracks without rules, standards, the right to due process, fundamental fairness and accountability.

As horsemen, we know that our primary responsibility is the health, welfare and safety of the horse, the integrity of our sport, and the fairness of competition. There is no place in our sport for individuals who cannot accept this commitment. In this regard, racetracks, regulators and horsemen must constantly work together to find solutions to the challenges we face, with honest discussion and transparent decision-making. When decisions are made behind closed doors and without open communication, we create conflict and turmoil at a time when we need to be collectively focused on the betterment of horse racing.

The HBPA and THA are in lockstep on this issue. We do not intend to stand idly by and let reputations be destroyed, and careers ruined. There must be a fair process that gives our horsemen a right to confront allegations of wrongdoing. In those states where horsemen are not accorded due process by racetracks, we will seek agreements to protect their rights or statutory protections. Our intent is to ensure a fair process. The time we take to do what is right and fair will be an invaluable investment in our industry.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen’s Journal Summer 2019 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Summer 2019 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of the printed magazine, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

A True Feel-Good Story for Racing
The racing community has stepped up to embrace a young fan’s love of the racetrack

Celebrating the Majesty of Majestic Prince
Five decades ago, a record-priced yearling almost made racing history

Long, Hot Summer
Some equine diseases are associated with hot weather, insects and wildlife

The Benefits of Lasix for Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage
50 years of science and clinical experience

Much more than a PDF, the interactive electronic edition of The Horsemen’s Journal includes the ability to save, print, email, or share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Please enjoy this exciting offering from the National HBPA and share it with anyone you think might enjoy it.

All hyperlinks/URLs and email addresses in the electronic edition are working, clickable links. So be sure to click on some of them – especially those in the advertisements to get more information on the great products and services being offered by the companies supporting your horsemen’s organization.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Nominations now open for the fourth annual Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards

Nominations for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards open on Tuesday, May 21, and will close on Monday, July 15. The TIEAs were held in America for the first time in 2016.

Godolphin, the global racing stable founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the principal sponsor of the awards in association with The Jockey Club, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association (NHBPA), the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and the Breeders’ Cup. Godolphin also sponsors the equivalent Stud and Stable Staff Awards in Ireland, Australia, Britain and France.

A new awards category is being added in 2019 in America – the Administrative Award. Said Dan Pride, COO of Godolphin in America, “As we all know, it really does take a village to care for our equine athletes whether it’s on a racetrack, on a farm, at a sales company, or at a feed supplier. Our administrative colleagues do an incredible job covering a wide array of functions and duties to keep these beautiful animals performing at their best and we felt it to be very important that we honor and reward this group of people as well.”

With the addition of the Administrative Award, a total of seven categories will be presented this year and will carry total prize money of $128,000. The awards will be held on Wednesday, October 11, at Keeneland Racecourse. The Keeneland Association hosted the event the first two years and it returns to the Lexington, Kentucky, oval after being held during Breeders’ Cup Championship Week last year with Churchill Downs as the host.

Dan Metzger, President of TOBA, added, “These awards continue to grow and it couldn’t be done without the help of a very large and committed group of individuals within the industry. On behalf of our partners, a special thanks to the Keeneland Association for their unwavering support, as well as our industry media partners – BloodHorse Publications, the Daily Racing Form, the Paulick Report, Thoroughbred Daily News, TVG and NBC Sports. ”

For more information and to nominate online, please go to

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Official Testing Results Show Substantial Rule Compliance in Racing, Claims Of Rampant Pain Masking Not Substantiated

The 2018 Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Program conducted by U.S. racing regulatory bodies found continued substantial compliance with racing’s medication and anti-doping rules and little support for claims that the use of drugs to mask pain when horses race is rampant.

As it does each year, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) released a summary of the collective results of the individual state programs conducted in 2018.

In 2018, horses competing in 95,618 individual races were tested, 43,574 flat races (Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred combined) and 52,044 Standardbred races. This represents a reduction from the previous year when horses from 98,883 races were tested.

On average 3.2 horses were tested in each flat race and 2.26 horses tested in each Standardbred contest.

In 2018, there were 1,561 violations of the medication rules out of 258,920 samples tested, meaning that 99.4% of all tests found the horse to be compliant with the rules. It also means that the facts do not support claims that a substantial number of horses are racing under the influence of pain masking medications as all testing labs routinely screen for the presence of such drugs. Such instances do occasionally occur and are reflected in the violations that are found and prosecuted.

The ARCI has described violations involving Class 1 or Class 2 substances as instances of “doping.” Violations involving substances of a lesser class often involve overages of medications deemed therapeutic or authorized by U.S. federal law for veterinary use.

There was a dramatic drop in doping instances from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, 11% of all violations found were for Class 1 or 2 substances. In 2018, that number dropped to 6.8% of all violations. In 2018, there were 107 findings out of 258,920 samples tested for these substances deemed to have the greatest effect on performance, or 0.04% of all samples tested. In 2017, there were 169 findings out of 293,704 samples, or 0.06% of those tested.

Violations involving Class 3 substances were 26.2% of all adverse analytical findings in 2018, a slight increase over the 24.5% detected in 2017. There were 409 Class 3 AAF’s in 2018 – 0.16% of all tested – compared to 376 in 2017 – 0.13% tested.

Violations involving substances deemed least likely to affect performance – Class 4 and 5 substances – accounted for 66.9% of the adverse analytical findings in 2018, slightly up from the 64.5% of AAF’s in 2017.

Clear Rate
In 2018, 99.4% of all samples tested were determined to be clear of any substance that would trigger an adverse analytical finding (AAF). In 2017, the clear rate for all US horse racing was 99.5%.

For Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races, the clear rate in 2018 was 99.13% and the rate for Standardbred races that year was 99.71%.

By comparison, the 2017 Annual Report of the US Anti Doping Agency indicates that their clear rate for human sport was 99.12% for Olympic, Paralympic and Global Service Testing. The 2019 World Anti-Doping Agency’s Testing Report shows that their “clear rate” is 98.57%.

“Horse racing and human sport share the same challenges in combating those who cheat. While the overall clear rate is comparable, I do not believe anyone is under the illusion in either human sport or horse racing that we are catching everyone who will attempt to cheat,” said Ed Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

“Industry investments in anti-doping research and a greater emphasis on expanded investigatory staff at the regulatory agencies and racetracks is essential if we are to effectively combat this threat,” he added.

(from ARCI news release)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

National HBPA's Hamelback: Announced initiative to ban Lasix 'should not be seen as safety reform'

As CEO of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (National HBPA) I -- along with all HBPA members -- am as concerned as any about the recent events in our industry. I firmly believe in having the highest standards of horsemanship. The HBPA is continuously working with industry stakeholders to improve the care, health and safety of our industry's equine and human athletes.

I have no doubt that everyone in horse racing has a shared goal of keeping our human and equine performers safe and healthy. However, I am disturbed and mystified by the announced initiative by the coalition of racetracks to phase out the use of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide in all 2-year-olds racing at their tracks in 2020 and all stakes races in 2021. Many of us in the industry strongly believe that it is reckless to unilaterally suggest a policy change that directly impacts horses' welfare without first consulting veterinary leadership or the horsemen's representatives.

I would hope the industry stakeholders understand the ban on the use of furosemide (commonly known as Lasix) will not prevent horses from suffering catastrophic injuries, and in fact, could cause further harm and should not be seen as a safety reform.

Many of the states affected by this possible ban on Lasix must consider the constitutional implications that will arise. As we find in Kentucky, this edict flies in the face of Attorney General Opinion (OAG 15-017) issued in late 2015 that held a regulation permitting private race tracks to determine whether to hold furosemide-free racing was unconstitutional delegation of the Horse Racing Commission's authority.

Each catastrophic injury faced at the racetrack is devastating to each and every one of us in the industry. But we also know there are many varied and nuanced conditions and circumstances which cause these tragedies. But the research is clear: Lasix is not a factor. Horses will continue to have injuries without race-day administration of Lasix. However, what also will happen is more horses will experience exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging (EIPH), which is systemic not only in thoroughbreds but equines in general. Lasix has been proven to be effective and preventing or reducing the severity of EIPH for well over 30 years.

In all racing jurisdictions, pain-killers, stimulants and performance-enhancing medications and drugs are prohibited for racing and therapeutic anti-bleeder medication is the only treatment that can be given to a horse on race day. Horse racing has one of the most stringent post-race drug-testing programs among any profession. Lasix programs are highly effective, highly regulated and transparent. It also should be pointed out that running a horse on Lasix is and always has been voluntary; nothing is forcing an owner or trainer to run their horses on the medication.

Lasix is the only scientifically proven and approved treatment for a horse with EIPH, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) as well as the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV). Current industry policy endorses the use of this medication on race day because it is in the best interests of the health and welfare of the horse.

The National HBPA, which represents about 30,000 owners and trainers, is and remains committed to being part of the solution. We are committed to reforms emphasizing transparency that will help address misunderstanding and lack of trust by some of the non-racing public. We are prepared to make some concessions in areas in which we disagree. But our first order of business is to make sure the horses themselves are treated with the highest degree of care.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen’s Journal Spring 2019 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Spring 2019 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of the printed magazine, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

Finding Ways to Do Things Better
Horsemen get together in Florida to share ideas to improve the industry

A Long Day’s Night
Track superintendents go the extra mile to keep horses and riders safe

How Horse Racing Is Using Digital Media to Grow Fan Engagement
Different than other major sports, horse racing has the opportunity to capitalize on a unique digital and social strategy

Feed, Forage and Bedding: What Is Being Called a Positive?
A multitude of environmental sources can individually result in a low-level concentration of a substance in a post-race test

Much more than a PDF, the interactive electronic edition of The Horsemen’s Journal includes the ability to save, print, email, or share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Please enjoy this exciting offering from the National HBPA and share it with anyone you think might enjoy it.

All hyperlinks/URLs and email addresses in the electronic edition are working, clickable links. So be sure to click on some of them – especially those in the advertisements to get more information on the great products and services being offered by the companies supporting your horsemen’s organization.

Horse Racing-Themed Lottery Game Now Available on a Trial Basis in Select Kentucky Cities

The Kentucky Lottery has launched a limited pilot program of the game Win Place Show, the first-ever daily lottery game based on the results of live horse racing.

Players can purchase the $2 Quick Pick tickets at one of the 45 retailers now offering the game on a limited basis. Each ticket lists three numbers with corresponding horse names, along with the designated race time and other key racetrack information. Prizes are paid based on the outcome of the race. Since the tickets are Quick Picks and players can’t select their own numbers, there is no handicapping skill involved. Final prizes are determined after race results are official, and are estimated to range from $10 to $1,800 (depending on field size, amount wagered and other factors).

The game will feature a daily race from one of 21 tracks in 14 states. These tracks stretch from California to Florida, with the first week of the pilot featuring Lexington’s Keeneland Race Course.

“Given Kentucky’s connection to the horse industry, we felt we needed to test this game as to see how players responded,” said Tom Delacenserie, president and CEO of the Kentucky Lottery. “Today we’ve launched limited sales of the game in 45 stores across Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky. At the end of the 90 day trial period, we’ll assess the game’s results to see if it would be viable for a state-wide rollout.”

The Win Place Show game was developed and implemented by Kentucky-based EquiLottery Games.

The Win Place Show mobile app is now available in the App Store and Google Play and allows players to watch races live or via replay through their phones. They can also watch races through any device by visiting The website and mobile app also have a searchable list of the 45 retailers selling the game during this trial period.

"We're thrilled to be working with the Kentucky Lottery on this limited trial of Kentucky's Win Place Show," said EquiLottery Games CEO Brad Cummings. "We look forward to seeing how this game performs for our partners at the Kentucky Lottery as we aim to increase education funding in the state and share the excitement of live horse racing with people all year round.”

(from Kentucky Lottery news release)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

National HBPA Convention: Finding Ways To Do Things Better

Finding ways for horse racing to do things better is the overarching theme of the National HBPA Convention March 12-16 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

That also is the mission of the new Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, a horse-racing think tank whose representatives form the March 13 keynote panel at the annual convention staged by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association and its affiliates in the United States and Canada. Launched last May, the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation already has issued a trio of white papers on horse racing and legal sports betting, when interference should result in a disqualification and rounding down to the penny in mutuel payoffs.

The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation’s stated goal is “to improve the thoroughbred racing industry for all stakeholders, especially its primary customers - gamblers and owners - through the exchange, curation and advocacy of sound, data-driven ideas, shared with and implemented by the sport’s existing entities.” TIF is funded by individuals and accepts no money from industry organizations.

Panelists are Glen Hill Farm president and think-tank founder Craig Bernick, along with TIF board members Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing and horse owner-breeder Corey Johnsen of Arizona Downs and Kentucky Downs. Moderating the panel will be Justin Nicholson, a TIF board member and co-founder of Equestricon.

“I continue to try to keep the keynote address about the positiveness and what’s working in the industry,” Hamelback said. “I certainly see this panel as that. This group and their board as a whole are very bright individuals who are all vested in the industry. They have a passion to make this industry as successful as possible, not just sit by and be status quo.

“We’re in a time where our industry is poised for growth if people will take heed of the changes that we should and could make…. These are people who want this industry not only to survive but to thrive.”

Other panels and presentations include:
  • “Putting the ‘We’ in Equine Welfare” kicks off the March 13 programming by exploring what animal welfare really means, who decides what is and isn’t good welfare and why the industry must get involved in the debate. The session will be presented by Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, the New York Racing Association’s chief examining veterinarian, an accredited steward, industry consultant and attorney.
“It makes you think about what some of these activists see and things we can do to make it better,” said Hamelback, who has seen Durenberger’s presentation. “It’s dependent on how we treat our equine athlete as to how our industry moves forward, as much as growing owners and handicappers.”
  • “Accessing Our Industry’s Stats Into The Future” will discuss owners asserting their rights to statistical data collected on their horses’ performances, including gaining input on how it is used. The panel comes as Equibase is testing GPS systems to collect race and workout data of horses.
  • Michele Fischer, president of the Darting Star consulting company whose expertise includes wagering systems around the world, will make a presentation about the future of fixed-odds betting at American racetracks, including the positive impact it has had in Australian racing.
  • John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager of Virginia’s revived Colonial Downs, is the guest speaker at the awards luncheon. Among those to be recognized is 2018 Claimer of the Year Persie, the Penn National-based winner of 10 of 17 starts in claiming and starter-allowance races for owner Bush Racing and trainer Lester Stickler.
  • Dr. Steve Vickner, an economist and associate professor in the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program in the College of Business and specialist in data analytics, will present factors affecting handle in thoroughbred and standardbred races based on extensive research at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack as part of the convention’s March 14 programming.
“That’s the kind of thing we need to know if we’re going to have pertinent industry discussions on how to change things, and what we’re doing already that is a win so we don’t have to focus on that part,” Hamelback said.
  • The public portion of the convention concludes the morning of March 15 with the annual Kent Stirling Memorial Scientific Panel, which will continue to delve into one of the most important topics facing horsemen: the dangers of environmental contamination and inadvertent transfer of impermissible substances to horses. This session focuses on naturally occurring substances in feed, forage and bedding and how horsemen can protect themselves.
“We have to be cognizant what’s in the barn,” Hamelback said.

The Tampa Bay Downs HBPA is the host affiliate, including sponsoring an afternoon at Tampa Bay Downs on March 15.

View the complete agenda, speakers and panelists here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Persie Wins National HBPA Claiming Horse of the Year Award

Persie (Photo courtesy Bush Racing Stable)
Persie, a winner of 10 races from 17 starts in 2018, has been named Claiming Horse of the Year by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Persie was one of only five horses in the United States with 10 or more wins last year. Three other horses also achieved 10 wins, and only Arriesgado, who competed in Puerto Rico, had more with 11.

Persie was claimed by Bush Racing Stable for $8,000 on May 24 at Penn National in Grantville, PA, after winning three times during the year for owner Adam Staple and trainer Brandon Kulp. The Street Sense gelding then won seven of his next 11 races, including six straight, for trainer Lester Stickler Jr. William Otero rode Persie to all but one of the wins for Bush Racing.

From 17 starts in 2018, Persie earned $114,372 – more than double his previous lifetime earnings – en route to earning Penn National’s 2018 Horse of the Year award from the Pennsylvania HBPA. Bred in Kentucky by Elkstone Group LLC, Persie began 2019 right where he left off – the 6- year-old won a starter allowance at Laurel Park on January 24.

“Every owner and trainer knows that it’s hard enough to win just one race, so for a horse to win 10 in a year is quite an accomplishment,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “We congratulate Persie and his connections on an outstanding season.”

The National HBPA also presents a Claiming Crown Horse of the Year Award to one of the winning horses from the $1.1-million Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park. The 2018 winner of that award will be honored at the TOBA National Awards Dinner later this year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Iowa Horsemen to Leverage Gaming Experience for Benefit of Iowa

The Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) announced today their intent to become the single license holder in Iowa for sports wagering.

Their bill, which was recently released by the state government committees in both the Iowa House as HSB 124 and Senate as SSB 1100, demonstrates the horsemen’s unique ability to implement sports wagering in Iowa with simplicity, security, demonstrated prior success and an ability and willingness to keep all proceeds in the hands of Iowans.

“We believe this is the simplest option for everyone involved,” said Jon Moss, Executive Director of the Iowa HBPA.  “Having one contract to oversee and manage is much easier to execute than 10 or 20.  We can effectively bring one simple, unified wagering platform to everyone.  And we’ve proven we can successfully implement wagering in Iowa.”

The Iowa HBPA has been successfully conducting Advanced Deposit Wagering (ADW) in Iowa since 2012.  Many experts believe ADW will comprise over 50% of total sports wagers in Iowa, so proven experience is valuable.

Further, the Iowa HBPA bill uses existing language that proposes sports wagering only be offered by ADW and in Iowa’s casinos.  This gives assurances to the public and to the legislative body that wagering will be conducted with a high degree of security and integrity.  In its nearly seven years of ADW experience, the Iowa HBPA has been proven successful at mitigating the risk of underage or illegal gambling.

“We also believe one of the most persuasive pieces of our bill is the opportunity to keep all proceeds right here in Iowa,” says Moss.  “After all, if Iowans spend their money here, it should benefit our state economy.”

Moss continues, “We want to bring as many partners along as possible.  Local non-profits, casinos, the state of Iowa and our agricultural industry should all benefit from sports wagering.  Other options leave many of these behind.  We have established partners to implement sports wagering here, and we can do it for the benefit of everyone involved.”

With the Iowa HBPA as the unified license holder, Iowa can keep with the spirit of the original bill Governor Terry Brandstad signed to allow casinos to operate in Iowa.  That bill, which allows casinos in Iowa to exist today, was enacted to support horse racing and the core of Iowa’s economy – agriculture.  The Iowa HBPA is also following in the footsteps of other Thoroughbred horsemen bringing sports wagering to their states in a responsible manner.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) in a lawsuit that allowed the New Jersey horsemen to conduct sports wagering in New Jersey.  That legislation and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act allowed individual states the freedom to implement sports wagering however they deem appropriate.

The Iowa HBPA is a non-profit 501(c)(6) trade association that represents all horsemen and women who run Thoroughbred horses within the state of Iowa.  Currently there are 1,200 members, comprised of individuals who have raced Thoroughbred horses in the past two calendar years.  The Iowa HBPA is also an affiliate member of the National HBPA, based in Lexington, KY.  The National HBPA represents over 30,000 members in North America.

(from Iowa HBPA news release)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen’s Journal Winter 2018 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Winter 2018 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of our Winter issue, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

One for the Record Books 
The 20th renewal of the Claiming Crown shatters the event’s handle mark at Gulfstream Park

Healing Horses and Humans
The Thoroughbred Makeover showcased the versatility and talent of Thoroughbreds after leaving the track

A Vital Purpose
The Man O’ War Project brings veterans and horses together to treat PTSD

Tackling the Lameness Problem
A collaborative study on joint injections between the National HBPA and veterinarians is bearing knowledge

Hitting the Threshold of Common Sense
The time for screening limits to guard against environmental transfer is now

Much more than a PDF, the interactive electronic edition of The Horsemen’s Journal includes the ability to save, print, email, or share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Please enjoy this exciting offering from the National HBPA and share it with anyone you think might enjoy it.

All hyperlinks/URLs and email addresses in the electronic edition are working, clickable links. So be sure to click on some of them – especially those in the advertisements to get more information on the great products and services being offered by the companies supporting your horsemen’s organization.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

August 15 is Deadline to Nominate for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards

Just a reminder that nominations for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Presented by Godolphin close on August 15. The TIEA Awards recognize and reward the outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of the farm and racing stable staff who are at the heart of our sport. The awards themselves are separated into six distinct categories which carry a total prize-pool of $128,000, along with specially commissioned trophies for the winners.

Get more info and nomination forms at

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer 2018 Issue of The Horsemen's Journal Now Online

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Summer 2018 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of our Winter issue, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

Alphabet Soup: Still Beating the Odds
The Old Friends resident is benefiting from a new cancer treatment that is helping gray horses

The Power of Social Media
How the Kentucky HBPA is using social media to spread the word about racing

Embracing the Race
A passionate supporter of horse racing is trying to raise the sport’s profile

Trace-Level Identifications Are Not Positives
The scientifically correct and public relations-appropriate approach to medication regulation

Much more than a PDF, the interactive electronic edition of The Horsemen’s Journal includes the ability to save, print, email, or share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Please enjoy this exciting offering from the National HBPA and share it with anyone you think might enjoy it.

All hyperlinks/URLs and email addresses in the electronic edition are working, clickable links. So be sure to click on some of them – especially those in the advertisements to get more information on the great products and services being offered by the companies supporting your horsemen’s organization.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jon Miller of NBC Sports to Deliver Keynote Address at Thoroughbred Owner Conference

Jon Miller - Photo courtesy NBC Sports Group
Jon Miller, the president of programming for NBC Sports Group, will deliver the keynote address at the fifth Thoroughbred Owner Conference, to be held from October 30 through November 1, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. The conference leads into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which are scheduled for November 2-3 at Churchill Downs.

The goal of the Thoroughbred Owner Conference, which is co-hosted by OwnerView and BloodHorse and presented by Churchill Downs and Breeders’ Cup, is to educate, inform, and entertain new, prospective, and current Thoroughbred owners through a series of panels, networking opportunities, and social events.

As president of programming, Miller oversees nearly 9,500 hours of annual programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), including the Triple Crown races, Breeders’ Cup, NFL, NHL, French Open, Notre Dame Football, Tour de France, IndyCar, and NBC’s golf properties.

In 2011, McKinsey & Company’s study, “Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding,” which was commissioned by The Jockey Club, found that horse racing was suffering from a lack of television coverage. Under Miller’s leadership, NBC Sports Group has significantly expanded its national coverage of horse racing from 23 hours in 2011 to 85 hours this year. For the fifth year, NBC and NBCSN are airing races from the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In, presented by America's Best Racing, and NBC hosted a record five hours of live coverage on this year’s Kentucky Derby day. In total, NBC and NBCSN aired more than 30 hours of coverage in support of this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

“Jon Miller and his team at NBC Sports Group have been tremendous ambassadors for horse racing through their increased national coverage of our sport,” said James L. Gagliano, president and COO of The Jockey Club. “We are thrilled that he is able to speak at the Thoroughbred Owner Conference and share his insights on the most effective strategies for broadcasting horse racing and growing the sport.”

In addition to the variety of panels and speakers, conference attendees will have the opportunity to attend Breeders’ Cup events such as the post-position draw and reception and workouts from the Breeders’ Cup Trackside Breakfast Marquee. Attendees will also be able to tour farms in the Lexington Bluegrass region and are invited to an evening reception at the Kentucky Derby Museum. Conference registrations also include reserved seating tickets for both days of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The full schedule of events is available at Registration for the conference is now open.

OwnerView is a joint effort spearheaded by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to encourage ownership of Thoroughbreds and provide accurate information on aspects of ownership such as trainers, public racing syndicates, the process of purchasing and owning a Thoroughbred, racehorse retirement, and owner licensing.

Additional information about OwnerView and the Thoroughbred Owner Conference is available at or by contacting Gary Falter at or (859) 224-2803.