CHRB Will Not Count Trainers in TOC Petitions

Decision complicates rival horsemen group's attempt to decertify representative.

The California Horse Racing Board threw a monkey wrench into a horsemen group's attempt to decertify the Thoroughbred Owners of California as legal representative, saying it will not validate petition signatures of owners who are also trainers.

After reviewing an advisory letter from the California Attorney General's office, the CHRB made its position known in a press release issued Sept. 1.

The rival group, California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, turned in more than 1,100 signatures from TOC members on a Petition of Decertification last month. It is awaiting word on whether it has met the 10% threshold that would require the CHRB to call an election that could ultimately disqualify the current ownership representative.

However, many of those who signed the petition are part of an owner-trainer category that does not exist, according to a letter dated June 21 from Jerald Mosley, a supervising deputy in the attorney general's office who often handles horse racing issues and hearings.

"Our research indicates that licensees who are licensed as both owners and trainers are not members of the TOC, and, thus, may not sign the alternate organization's petition seeking a decertification election nor may they vote in such election," Mosley wrote in a letter to Robert Miller, general counsel for the CHRB.

According to Mosely, an amendment to TOC bylaws passed in 2002 created an "owner-trainer" category and added three representatives of that group to the TOC board of directors. However, the amendment expired with a sunset clause that became effective Jan. 1, 2009, he wrote.

"That provision is no longer operative," Mosely said of the 2002 amendment. "Neither its requirement that owner-trainers be offered membership in the TOC nor its limitation on the number of owner-trainer directors is operative." 

Miller, in an Aug. 31 letter to CTHA president David Wilson, wrote, “Any licensed Thoroughbred owner who signed the petition and who holds any other CHRB license will not be counted in determining the 10% threshold.”

"I think it's outrageous," said Roger Licht, an owner who is one of the CTHA's original members. "I haven't figured out if they are discriminating against anyone who owns two licenses, or just owners-trainers."

Miller, responding to a question, said that according to the TOC bylaws, owners holding more than one vaild CHRB license are not eligible to take part in the petition process or any subsequent election. He said that, in his opinion, spouses of trainers who are owners and do not hold any other licenses are eligible to participate.

In his letter, Miller said that once it determines that those owners who signed the petition are qualified, the CHRB will randomly contact individuals by letters requesting verification of their participation in the decertification process.

“We anticipate concluding the validation process within the next 30 days,” wrote Miller.

If sufficient validated signatures have been submitted, the decertification election will be placed on the agenda for the next scheduled meeting of the CHRB, which will then set a date for the election.

The CHRB previously listed 7,705 licensees as Thoroughbred owners. It is not known if that also includes members of the owner-trainer category.

The CTHA charges that the interests of horsemen have not been properly represented by the TOC, which has been the official bargaining entity since it was incorporated in 1993.

Its main goal is the unification of owners and trainers into a single unit.