Magna Entertainment chairman Frank Stronach, in an open letter to the Thoroughbred industry, has made recommendations for a revised National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors, and also has called for a public forum for all members of the industry to discuss the NTRA's future.
In an advertisement that appeared in industry trade publications, including The Blood-Horse, Stronach proposed an NTRA board made up of one-third breeders, one-third owners, and one-third racetrack representatives. In effect, he took a page out of the playbook of the NTRA, which often runs open letters as ads in trade publications.
Stronach, a major owner and breeder, proposed that the breeders elect a national board of directors, and have the right to elect a third of the representatives on the NTRA board. The board also would manage the Breeders' Cup.
The owners would have a national board, and in turn elect their NTRA representatives. The national owners' board -- it would be selected on a vote by Thoroughbred owners (one vote per horse in training) -- would manage all activities related to horse ownership.
Finally, the racetracks would be represented by five "groups" -- Magna, Churchill Downs, the New York Racing Association, a Mid-Atlantic racetrack, and an "independent" track.
"This framework would not only ensure a democratic process to elect the directors of the NTRA, but it would also ensure that no group could dominate the NTRA or any of its members," Stronach said in his letter.
The NTRA is in the process of expanding its board of directors from 11 members to 15 in an attempt to be more inclusive. The new board is expected to be seated the first quarter of 2001.
Stronach has proposed a public forum be held Jan. 8 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. He has invited breeders, owners, and racetrack officials.
In a statement issued by Eric Wing, its director of media relations, the NTRA said: "While there are practical issues with the specific details of Mr. Stronach's suggestions, the NTRA shares many of his goals, including the importance of live racing, on-track attendance, democratic NTRA governance, and regulatory reform, among others.
"We look forward to further discussions with Mr. Stronach, and remain convinced that the industry can make more progress through its existing national association than by splitting apart."
In his letter, Stronach said "live racing is deteriorating. Racetracks need upgrading badly...We cannot neglect live racing. We must make it more attractive for many more people."
Stronach also emphasized a "free enterprise economy" in which the regulation of racing is limited to protection of the betting public and the integrity of the game. He uses New York as an example, and indicates anyone who meets the necessary federal, state, and local requirements should be allowed to build a track and compete with NYRA.
Stronach discussed his views on racing, the industry, and the NTRA recently in an interview with The Blood-Horse editor-in-chief Ray Paulick. The full text of that interview can be read at: Stronach interview