The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is compiling the results of a survey that shows its 30 affiliates spent almost $11 million on benevolence programs last year.
As of March 21 all but three affiliates had completed the survey, results from which will be used to establish the National HBPA dues structure and budgets, and also provide information on purses, said Remi Bellocq, the organization’s chief executive officer.
Of the $11 million, $8 million was generated by gaming revenue.
The survey shows 72% of all racing dates in North America are offered in HBPA states, and that the horsemen’s groups account for 61% of purses paid—more than $660 million. In addition, the affiliates contributed about $425,000 to chaplaincy programs last year, Bellocq said.
“Benevolence and what we do as far as being a safety net for horsemen is pretty compelling,” Bellocq said.
Programs such as backstretch medical clinics, education for backstretch workers, and funding for emergencies are being impacted by revenue reductions brought about by declines in pari-mutuel handle, purses, and even gaming proceeds.
Bellocq said the National HBPA may examine the legality of certain reductions. For instance, horsemen’s groups and racetracks set revenue percentages in contracts that ultimately are governed through the Interstate Horseracing Act, but states can intercede by lowering percentages via statutory changes, particularly on the gaming side.
“We may have (legal counsel) Doug McSwain examine this,” Bellocq said. “Is this type of thing jeopardizing the contractual relationship (between horsemen and racetracks)?”
Affiliate financial problems have led some National HBPA members to examine how their money is spent. Last year the organization in total paid $400,000 in dues to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, but this year half of the 30 affiliates are reconsidering their contributions.
“Some of our affiliates believe there could be better utilization of that $400,000,” Arkansas HBPA president Bill Walmsley said.
National HBPA president Joe Santanna of Pennsylvania said there’s “never enough” money that can be spent on benevolence programs, but the organization remains true to its mission by “dedicating a large majority of our resources to helping others.”