TOC Membership Approves Major Bylaw Changes

Result restores voting rights to owners/trainers, avoids decertification election.

Thoroughbred Owners of California members have given wide support to bylaw amendments that will clear the way for a full board election early next year, according to a Dec. 29 press release from the horsemen's organization.

While the official announcement will not come until Jan. 4, the TOC said in its statement that "it is clear that the ballot question will be approved by the membership by a large margin.

"As of Tuesday, Dec. 27, the last day on which ballot envelopes had to be postmarked, the accounting firm of McGladrey & Pullen had reported that a total of 1,265 votes had been cast, with 95% of the members approving of the changes," the press release stated.

The bylaw amendments mean that voting rights for California Thoroughbred owners who are also trainers, as well as their spouses, have been restored. An open election for all 15 seats on the TOC board is to take place in February 2012.

Earlier this year members of a rival group, the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, protested the TOC's restrictions on membership and board representation as discriminatory. It forced the TOC bylaw amendment vote after gathering enough signatures from TOC members to potentially decertify the organization. The TOC is the legally recognized representative of Thoroughbred owners in the state.

Had the bylaw changes been rejected, the TOC decertification process would have been restarted by the California Horse Racing Board.

A nomination-by-petition process for the upcoming board election is now set to begin, according to the TOC. Those seeking nomination for the TOC board may pick up forms in the TOC office, by calling the TOC at (626) 574-6620, or by e-mailing

The TOC said it intends to mail ballots by Feb. 15. Returned ballots must be postmarked by March 15, with results to be posted March 24.

Five bylaw changes were approved in two categories. The first category asked current TOC members to open the membership, with full voting rights, to any person licensed by the CHRB as an owner of a Thoroughbred racehorse.

The second category pertains to membership on the TOC board of directors and executive committee. One of the bylaw changes creates two classes of members. The owner class consists of Thoroughbred owners who are not licensed by the CHRB to train horses. The owner/trainer class consists of Thoroughbred owners who also are licensed as trainers or are the spouse of a trainer.

With the latest bylaw changes, members in the owner/trainer class and their spouses can run for up to 40% of the seats on the TOC board of directors (six of the 15 seats). In addition, at least one of the five directors serving on the executive committee must be in the owner/trainer class. At least one of the owner/trainer class directors must be from Northern California and at least one must be from Southern California, as opposed to all six being from one part of the state.