by Richard E. Glover, Jr., National HBPA Director of Communications
On this Good Friday, it seems appropriate to have a headline involving a Pope. But it may not be the Pope you had in mind. Instead, I'm talking about Fred Pope, the president of The Pope Advertising Agency in Lexington, Kentucky - a man who nobody could ever say lacks opinions about the horse racing industry.
Over the years, I've heard many opinions about Pope and his ideas, and they have run the gamut. Personally, I have always admired the fact that he is one of the few people in our industry who is willing to put his ideas and opinions out there for everyone to hear and that is willing to dare to dissent or disagree publicly with racing's so-called leaders. Moreover, he doesn't just criticize the status quo - he follows up any criticism with suggested solutions that have clearly taken some serious time and thought.
I may not always agree with Pope's criticism of certain things about our industry or all of his proposed solutions, but I applaud his right and willingness to stir the pot and try to make a difference.
In the 1990s, Pope brought forth the concept of the National Thoroughbred Association (NTA), an organization that would have acted as the controlling body for the structure and rules of horse racing in North America. Though the NTA was never to become what Pope had envisioned it would be, it was a major catalyst in setting the stage for the development of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).
So yes, Pope dreams big, is willing to put in time and hard work to give those dreams a chance to take off, and his vision has at times pushed the horse racing industry to action (though sometimes that action has been contrary to Pope's hopes).
Pope is at it again this week. Through The Blood-Horse website, he has released a new white paper titled "International Racing is Waiting on North America" that which examines problems caused by the North American horse racing industry's lack of central authority, as well as why the International racing world is waiting on North America. You can view the white paper here.
As he usually does, Pope give us a lot to think about. Whether you end up agreeing or disagreeing with Pope about the problems and the possible solutions, I think it is extremely important reading for all racehorse owners, trainers, and industry workers. It's the kind of paper that will make you stop and think and may give you some ideas you also want to put out there for everyone to see.
And don't forget that this blog is a forum where you can do just that. Read Pope's white paper and then post your thoughts here. Use this forum to talk to each other and really get a conversation started about where our industry is and where it needs to be headed.