The National Thoroughbred Racing Association expects to approve a 2010 budget that’s about 25% smaller than this year’s spending plan, president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop said.
The NTRA board of directors will meet Dec. 8 in Tucson, Ariz. Waldrop discussed the budget and other matters Dec. 7 during the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association board of directors meeting, also held in Tucson.
“In the near term, there are some challenges we face,” Waldrop said, noting generation of fresh revenue—and implementing programs that save members money—could help make the NTRA less dependent on membership dues. He said the national economy is a major contributor to the budget reduction.
Waldrop said about $1 million has been spent the last two years on the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, which he hopes becomes self-sustaining. He also said it costs about $500,000 to put on the annual Eclipse Awards, but revenue from the event doesn’t cover the cost of hosting it.
Both programs, however, are seen as important tools for the Thoroughbred industry, Waldrop said.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult for people to see what the NTRA is doing,” Waldrop said. “The NTRA has multiple perspectives and points of view, but the ultimate goal is to get to the fan. That’s the way to build interest in (Thoroughbred racing). We see our job as being different than that of the typical trade association.”
The NTRA is working on a medical insurance plan and creating a federal credit union to help save the industry money. The organization also is at the forefront of an effort to create the National Racing Compact, which would facilitate adoption of various rules and regulations regarding medication, licensing, and wagering security in member states.
Waldrop said the compact would not be a “national racing commission.” It would simply centralize regulation and offer states the chance to opt out and reconsider specific rules.
“Usually such compacts are all-in or all-out,” Waldrop said, “but we don’t want the compact to become a runaway train. There will be a way to step in and ameliorate (regulations).”
The compact, in order to be formed, requires six states to adopt the plan. Waldrop said the NTRA would focus on California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and New York.
“We would first shoot for the major states with major (pari-mutuel) handle,” Waldrop said, “and hope the other states get on board when they see the inevitability of this. The goal is to have a compact operational by the end of this year, but that’s a very ambitious goal.
“It is a new vehicle for regulators to get actively involved in the industry, and I think that makes some people nervous.”
Compact legislation currently circulating in New York most likely will be revised in 2010. Given the racing industry’s history, it probably will take much longer than one year to get six states on board.