The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association voted Dec. 13 to oust president Gus George and replace him with Jim Yaegel, who will complete the term through the fall of 2006.
The Ohio HBPA board of directors took the action on two-thirds vote pursuant to its code of regulations, according to a release. George, a trainer based at Beulah Park, was removed as president and as a director of the association that represents horsemen at Beulah Park, River Downs, and Thistledown.
"Many members of the board of directors said Gus George has been dedicated to horsemen and the sport of Thoroughbred racing," Ohio HBPA executive director Dan Theno said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the differences between Mr. George and the board of directors could not be resolved. The board decided it was in the best interests of Ohio horsemen and Thoroughbred racing to take this action.
"While I am sure that everyone wishes Gus well, the interests of Ohio Thoroughbred horsemen and the affairs of the association must move forward."
George has been credited for working hard on benevolence programs, particularly at his home track. Individuals close to the situation said the board's vote was tied in part to an alleged request by George to have Ohio HBPA board member Bob Reeves removed from a National HBPA committee that deals with wagering and gaming issues. Others claimed Reeves resigned from the committee six weeks ago.
Reeves has been particularly outspoken on the topic of account wagering and the horsemen's share of revenue from it. He has clashed at times with officials from Ohio racetracks that own the AmericaTAB account wagering service, whose bets are processed in Oregon.
George couldn't be immediately reached for comment as a recording on a cell phone number provided by the Ohio HBPA said the number was no longer in service. Reeves confirmed he no longer heads the National HBPA committee, but when asked why, he said: "No comment."
Reeves, still an owner director on the Ohio HBPA board, said he planned to attend the National HBPA winter convention in Tampa, Fla., in late January. When asked if he would again be involved in simulcast and account wagering issues on a state and national level, he said: "You never know."
Yeagel had been a vice president of the Ohio HBPA and is an owner- director. When asked to comment on the direction in which the Ohio HBPA is headed, he referred the call to Theno, who said: "I think you're going to see better cooperation in regard to issues of futuristic impact, and you'll see us get back to more long-range planning. We'll be looking at the macro issues rather than the micro issues."