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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Join Us in Las Vegas for the National HBPA Convention

Topics include horsemen’s relations, aftercare, ADWs; Kentucky Downs’ Johnsen delivering keynote address

Racetracks developing strong relations with their horsemen is good for business. So is the sport’s stake-holders investing in thoroughbred retirement.

Those are two panel discussions during what promises to be a lively and informative National HBPA Convention March 7-10. at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa. The Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is the world’s largest organization representing Thoroughbred owners and trainers, with close to 30,000 members across the United States and Canada.

The convention kicks off with a reception the evening of March 7, with full days of programming March 8-10 open to all attendees. In addition, the complete HBPA board will meet March 11. It is the only convention the HBPA will stage in 2017 after having two in prior years.

Registration is now open at for the event, at which elected officers and board members of the 28 state and five Canadian affiliates will discuss the issues and challenges facing the sport through committee meetings, panels and presentations. The assembly is open to anyone involved in the racing industry, including handicappers and fans. Sponsored by Xpressbet and the National HBPA, the convention for the first time includes a handicapping tournament that serves as a qualifier to the 2018 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.

Corey Johnsen, president and part-owner of Kentucky Downs as well as an owner and breeder, will deliver the keynote speech on March 8. He’s also part of a panel titled Horsemen’s Relations: Building Positive Momentum Working Together, a session that also includes The Stronach Group’s Mike Rogers and Canterbury Park’s Randy Sampson, with Virginia HBPA executive director Frank Petramalo moderating.

Johnsen, Ray Reid and their partners in Kentucky Downs began operating Historical Horse Racing terminals on Sept. 1, 2011, and have used that innovative pari-mutuel technology as a game-changing force for the good. In the last five years, the track’s purses have mushroomed from $746,810 for the meet to $7.8 million in 2016. Kentucky Downs also is using its economic firepower to benefit the entire state circuit, including working with the Kentucky HBPA to transfer $1.35 million in purses to Ellis Park for its 2016 meet.

“One thing that I have tried to bring to the National HBPA’s platform is the importance and proclamation of being positive in our industry,” said Eric Hamelback, the National HBPA’s chief executive officer. “Corey Johnsen clearly fits that bill.”

Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association president Rick Violette and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance’s Stacie Clark will share their experiences and thoughts in the session TAA: Protecting Your Investment in Retirement.

Other topics and presentations include what the growth of advance-deposit wagering platforms means for the sport; medication updates, including hair and out-of-competition testing; equine nutrition and veterinary topics, exchange wagering, equine research and legal updates and member benefits. Ed Martin and Judy Wagner, the CEO and chairman of the board for the Association of Racing Commissioners International, will summarize the racing regulators’ town-hall meetings and results of its survey of racing participants.

“Our convention provides an excellent opportunity for individuals and affiliates to network, discuss concerns and solutions, and hear a variety of topics affecting our national horsemen,” said Leroy Gessmann, the National HBPA president and chairman. “The NHBPA is committed to helping shape the future of the Thoroughbred racing industry and representing the interests of its owners and trainers.”

At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live from the convention with live streaming at and on Sirius 220/XM 206.

Registration, agenda and more information at

The National HBPA ( based in Lexington, Ky. is the largest racing horsemen’s representative organization in North America with 30 affiliate organizations and over 30,000 member horsemen. Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies, Lavin Insurance Group LLC, Xpressbet, NTRA Advantage,, Finish Line Horse Products Inc., Horseman Labor Solutions and Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals Inc. are proud corporate partners of the National HBPA.

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