Future of Breeders' Cup, NTRA May Hinge on Election of Trustees

Future of Breeders' Cup, NTRA May Hinge on Election of Trustees
Photo: Skip Dickstein
D. G. Van Clief, Jr., who has announced he will retire from the Breeders' Cup and NTRA later this year.
The future direction of the Breeders' Cup, and perhaps the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, could be at least partly decided when the results of an ongoing election for the Breeders' Cup board of trustees and members are announced in July.

Twenty-one individuals, including 10 incumbents, are on the ballot for election or re-election to the 46-member board that earlier this year elected the smaller 13-member board of directors that oversees Breeders' Cup operations. The election comes at a critical time given the fact Breeders' Cup and the NTRA are deciding the fate of their joint operating agreement that began in 2001.

The Breeders' Cup and NTRA boards -- scheduled to meet jointly this Thursday, June 8, in New York -- also must decide on a management structure. With D.G. Van Clief Jr., currently Breeders' Cup president and NTRA commissioner, having announced his retirement for later this year, the boards must choose his successor. However, the two boards are said to be undecided whether to have one person oversee both organizations, or have two different chief executives. Van Clief, the longtime Breeders' Cup president, was the first to oversee Breeders' Cup and the NTRA when he took over as NTRA commissioner from Tim Smith, who resigned in 2004.

The election in January that created a new 13-member Breeders' Cup board wasn't without behind-the-scenes political posturing from individuals who differ on a future direction for the two organizations. The current election could swing the balance of power among the 46 trustees, which ultimately may change the 13-member Breeders' Cup board and its commitment as the financial engine for the NTRA.

Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of communications for the NTRA, said ballots must be received by the auditor by June 19; the winners will be seated Aug. 1.

Under the voting structure, 13 spots on the Breeders' Cup board of trustees and members are up each year on a three-year rotation. The other seven seats on the 46-member board are for founding members who can remain on the board indefinitely. The founding members are the past president, currently James E. "Ted" Bassett III; Spendthrift Farm (Brownell Combs); Lane's End Farm (Will Farish); Claiborne Farm (Jim Friess); Brereton Jones; John T.L. Jones Jr.; and John Nerud.

In the election, each $500 in Breeders' Cup foal nominations or stallion fees equals one vote. Thus, the nominator of a stallion that stands for $10,000 would get 20 votes. The 20 votes are then multiplied by 13--the total number of seats up for election--for a total of 260 votes. The nominator can place 20 votes for each of the 13 candidates or place 20 votes for any number less than 13, but cannot place all 260 votes for one candidate.

In the case of syndicates, the nominator of a stallion would receive the ballot and then must discuss with syndicate members how the syndicate plans to vote.

The number of votes is based on 2005 foal nominations and stallion fees. Those same figures will be used when the membership votes on nominees for the board of trustees and members for the 2007 election. For the actual 2007 election, the 2006 foal nomination and stallion fee numbers will be used.

(In the nomination phase of the election in which candidates are selected for the ballot, the number of votes isn't multiplied by the number of available seats. For instance, a stallion that stands for $10,000 would equate to 20 votes, all of which could go to one person or be divided among any number of candidates up to 13.)

Pam Blatz-Murff, senior vice president of racing for Breeders' Cup, said there are about 5,800 nominators who could cast any number of votes in the current election. In previous elections, she said, it took 6,000 to 6,500 votes to crack to the top 13; the leading candidate may get 9,500-10,000 votes.

"You don't know exactly where it's going to line up," Blatz-Murff said. "There is quite a bit of interest, and it takes quite a lot of votes to get nominated."

The voting procedure is explained to nominators, though on an average, 20-40 ballots may be rejected, she said.

Here are the 21 candidates for election to the 13 seats as Breeders' Cup board of trustees/members:

John Amerman (Amerman Racing/Peacefield Farm)
Reynolds Bell Jr. (Reynolds Bell Thoroughbred Services)
J. William Boniface (Bonita Farm)
Boyd Browning Jr. (Fasig-Tipton Co.)
Alex G. Campbell Jr. (Alex G. Campbell Jr. Racing)
Alice Chandler (Mill Ridge Farm)
David DiPietro (Maryland Stallion Station)
Donald Dizney (Double Diamond Farm)
Thomas Gaines (Gaines/Gentry Thoroughbreds)
John J. Greely III (Wintergreen Farm)
B. Wayne Hughes (Spendthrift Farm)
Tom Ludt (Vinery)
Trudy McCaffery (McCaffery/Toffan)
Clem Murphy (Coolmore Stud)
Ogden Mills Phipps (Phipps Stable)
Dan Pride (Darley at Jonabell)
Satish Sanan (Padua Stables)
Richard Santulli (Jayeff B Stables)
John Sikura (Hill 'n' Dale Farms)
Frank Stronach (Stronach Stables/Adena Springs)
John T. Ward Jr. (Sugar Grove Farm/John T. Ward Stables)

Boniface, Campbell, Chandler, Greely, Hughes, McCaffery, Phipps, Sanan, Santulli, and Stronach are current trustees and members eligible for re-election.

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