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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Open Letter from the NTRA Board of Direcors

The following is posted on the National HBPA blog by the request of the NTRA:

As members of the NTRA Board of Directors, we devote our time and energy to the NTRA because it is the one industry organization that can take on major issues and challenges that require consensus, collaboration and a national approach. As a group (representing racetracks, breeders, owners and horsemen), we are more unified and more supportive of the NTRA’s role on behalf of the industry than ever before.

The NTRA’s accomplishments over the past decade serve as an ongoing reminder of what can be accomplished when the industry works together to achieve common goals.

One important example is the organization’s work on Capitol Hill. Whether it be issues pertaining to interstate
simulcasting, Internet wagering, tax withholding, or accelerated depreciation of racing stock, the NTRA has proven to be an effective voice for the industry at the federal level.

There can be little doubt that, after a decade of unified legislative advocacy, the Thoroughbred industry is in a much stronger position today to influence public policy that impacts every segment of our industry, including bettors.

There are other, equally important examples of positive achievements realized from working together at the national level. In 2008, the catastrophic injury to Eight Belles, after the Kentucky Derby, following so closely on the heels of Barbaro’s injury in the 2006 Preakness, set off a crisis of confidence within the industry and drew a relentless barrage of criticism of our sport from fans, the media, industry stakeholders and Congress alike. In both instances, the NTRA effectively and professionally represented our industry on various fronts ranging from Congressional testimony to crisis communications and issue management.

In 2008, acting in a familiar role as a convening authority, the NTRA formed the Safety and Integrity Alliance, which is supported by virtually every major racetrack and horsemen’s group in the country. In less than two years, the Alliance has implemented meaningful change in our safety policies and procedures on a nationwide basis and addressed some serious public perception issues.

And although the NTRA doesn’t receive as much attention for its work during “non-emergencies,” the organization has successfully undertaken a number of significant initiatives on behalf of its members. It has built a group purchasing arm that has saved the industry about $75 million since 2002. Could a group of organizations band together to attempt to enact a similar program? Absolutely. In fact, it was tried in the early 2000s—with marginal results.

Could more than 50 organizations in the U.S. and Canada create a national handicapping championship offering a $1 million purse? Conceivably, yes, but the NTRA (with Daily Racing Form, participating members and fans) actually pulled it off, delivering more than $5.5 million in prize money to players during the past 11 years.

Can any single organization produce award-winning advertising? Of course, but to our knowledge the NTRA is the only entity to produce popular ads promoting horse racing that have been honored both nationally (National Addy and Mercury Award as the nation’s top radio spot) and internationally (Gold Lion Award at Cannes, France).

Legislative advocacy in Washington; Horse PAC, our industry’s Political Action Committee; marketing and PR; group purchasing; sponsorship support from entities like John Deere and UPS; promotions like the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship and NHC Tour; an industry-wide Web 2.0 strategy; NTRA Live! Webcasts; the new NTRA Virtual Horse Racing Game; the Eclipse Awards; the Safety and Integrity Alliance; national and international affiliations designed to grow our business and the popularity of our sport—these are just a few of the NTRA’s accomplishments on behalf of the industry’s many and varied stakeholders.

As directors, we represent every employee and every voting and dues-paying member of our respective stakeholder groups. We take this responsibility very seriously and want to hear from you. The NTRA has accomplished a great deal for our industry, but we know there is much more to be done. We’re counting on you for support and input. Please share your thoughts with us at NTRABoard@ntra.com.

Antony Beck
Breeders’ Cup Limited
 

Reynolds Bell, Jr.
Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
 

Robert Clay
The Jockey Club


Robert N. Elliston
NTRA Executive Chairman
Midwest Region Independent Tracks


Alan M. Foreman
Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association


Craig Fravel
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club


Charles Hayward
New York Racing Association


F. Jack Liebau, Sr.
Western Region Independent Tracks
 

Marsha Naify
Thoroughbred Owners of California
 

Nick Nicholson
Keeneland Association
 

Satish Sanan
Breeders’ Cup Limited
 

Joseph Santanna
National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association
 

Alexander M. Waldrop
NTRA President and CEO

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