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Monday, April 11, 2016

Tornado at Will Rogers Downs Illustrates Importance of NHBPA's Disaster Coverage

Tornado damage at Will Rogers Downs (photo courtesy TRAO)
The recent tornado damage to the barn area at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., illustrates the benefit for racetracks and training centers to participate in the National HBPA’s fire and disaster insurance policy.

Because of its size, the umbrella policy allows racing and training facilities to acquire the coverage at an affordable rate as a benefit to their owners and trainers. As a result of Will Rogers Downs participating in the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association’s group plan, insurance will pay for the financial losses incurred by affected trainers and horse owners. The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma is an HBPA affiliate; however, non-HBPA affiliated tracks and training facilities also can participate in the disaster insurance.

“In the case of an emergency, the National HBPA and HBPA affiliates are always standing ready to help,” said Eric Hamelback, the NHBPA’s CEO. “One benefit of being a National HBPA member, as Oklahoma and Will Rogers Downs will find out, is the fire and disaster policy that can be acquired through us for racetrack and training facilities.

“Natural disasters strike with little warning. Having the benefit of this fire and disaster policy gives you some piece of mind.”

 The Will Rogers backstretch was extensively damaged, including the destruction of half of two 36-stall barns, when a tornado hit the area March 30. No humans were injured, with two horses suffering injuries, one relatively minor and the other saved but quite possibly through racing, according to Danielle Barber, executive director of the Oklahoma horsemen’s association.

Barber said several trainers lost all their tack and feed, with the extent of damage still to be determined while safety considerations prevent going back into the barns. With those trainers having relatively small operations, that remains a significant financial hit.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Barber, who praised Will Rogers track team for working quickly to minimize potential injury to horses. “Those guys in that barn only have between five and 10 horses. That’s what they do for a living. If they (horses) are all gone, it would be hard to start back. You hope it never happens to you. But if it does, you hope you’re covered.”

Will Rogers’ mixed meet of thoroughbreds and quarter horses runs through May. 21. Racing resumed Monday.

For information on how to help the affected Will Rogers horsemen through donations of barn and horse supplies, call the National HBPA’s Lexington office at (859) 259-0451 or email Hamelback at ehamelback@hbpa.org.

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