Robin Richards was elected president and Stephanie Beattie first vice president of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association during the organization's board of directors meeting July 1 in Iowa.
Officials said the election was historic given the fact it's the first time a woman has served in either position. Richards, who had no challengers and was elected by acclamation, replaces the retiring Joe Santanna, who served two three-year terms.
"Under Joe's tenure the organization has become an organization we can all be proud of," said Richards, president of the Virginia HBPA. "He left us in ship-shape, and we're a lot better now than when he began (as president)."
Beattie, a trainer with about 60 horses based at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, serves as president of the Pennsylvania HBPA. The National HBPA has four vice presidents by region; one serves as first vice president.
"This is a historic occasion," said Bill Walmsley, president of the Arkansas HBPA and a former National HBPA president. "This is a good old boys' industry, but as you can see, we don't have that problem in a good old boys' industry."
Santanna's contributions were discussed during the board meeting, which was held at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Santanna, who previously served as secretary/treasurer of the National HBPA, received multiple gifts and got a bit emotional in his parting speech.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity and experience," said Santanna, a former president of the Pennsylvania HBPA. "What we've done we've accomplished together, and keeping this (forward) motion is a strength of our organization. We've attempted to position the National HBPA as a major stakeholder in our industry."
Others honored during the board of directors meeting were Ed Hagan, the National HBPA chairman of the board; Rhonda Denham and Richard Glover Jr., former employees of the organization; and Marty Maline, the Kentucky HBPA executive director who received this year's Industry Service Award.