The National Thoroughbred Racing Association's board of directors approved a combined NTRA/Breeders' Cup operating budget of $59.3 million for 2002 during a regularly scheduled meeting at Gulfstream Park in Florida on Thursday.The operating budget is 4.8% higher than the budget published in the NTRA's annual report and includes $1.5 million carried over from 2001 as a surplus. The $1.5 million has been earmarked for a special stimulus program designed to boost attendance and handle at NTRA member tracks. Details on the budget will be published in a forthcoming annual report. Last year, 34% of the budget was dedicated to purses and awards, including $13 million for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships and $6 million for Breeders' Cup Stakes. Advertising and marketing received 38.3% of the 2001 budget; television 13.3%; general and administrative 12.1%; and 2.3% for legislative and regulatory activities.At Thursday's meeting, the board also approved a group purchasing plan and marketing alliance with the American Quarter Horse Association that makes individual AQHA members eligible for discounts through NTRA Purchasing, starting with the John Deere program. The board also approved an affiliation with the National Council on Problem Gaming.Plans for the newly created NTRA Creative Services were reviewed with the board, which also heard a progress report on lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., regarding federal legislation that would recognize horses as livestock and make owners and breeders eligible for low-interest loans in the event of catastrophic losses; the recent passage of legislation providing increased depreciation rates for horses; and proposed legislation to eliminate a 30% withholding on foreign wagers in U.S. betting pools.Attending his first board meeting was John Roark, president of the National HBPA, one of six horsemen's representatives on the 15-member NTRA board. Roark was elected by the HBPA to fill the seat previously held by Bill Walmsley, who was recognized by the board for his service and dedication to the industry. The board also recognized the contributions of Jim Gallagher, executive director of the NTRA Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force. Gallagher was recently named vice president of pari-mutuel operations for the New York Racing Association.