NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop

NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop

Anne M. Eberhardt

NTRA: Balanced Budget, Board Changes in Works

The NTRA is hoping for a balanced budget and preparing for changes on its board.

Operating revenue for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association was down 45.2% in 2009 from 2008, but expenses were down 47.5% year-to-year, leading the organization to suggest it should have a balanced budget for 2010.

In its 2009 annual report released May 25, the NTRA in audited financial statements said operating revenue last year was $9.18 million, down from $16.75 million the previous year. The largest decline came in the area of television, with revenue down about $3.5 million from 2008.

The NTRA has backed away from pursuing TV deals for the time being.

Membership dues were down about $1 million, and NTRA Advantage revenue dropped about $1.5 million, but has since recovered in 2010.

The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, which began accrediting racetracks in 2009, generated $506,449 in expenses and no revenue in 2008, the year it was formed. Last year, expenses rose to $638,376, but the alliance realized $328,200 in revenue.

With $12.51 million in operating expenses last year, revenue was $3.28 million under expenses. Total net assets at the end of 2009 stood at $3.32 million, according to the annual report.

The NTRA had $2.99 million in corporate bonds and debt securities at the end of 2009.

NTRA senior vice president Keith Chamblin said $2 million of the 2009 loss was budgeted loss as approved by the board of directors the previous year to enable the NTRA  to continue television coverage in 2009. The remaining $1.3 million in loss was covered by reserves. 

NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop said the organization “greatly simplified its income statement and balance sheet in 2009 by eliminating debt associated with the acquisition of certain television rights and assets from Winnercom in conjunction with the creation of NTRA Productions in the early days of the NTRA.”

Waldrop said the NTRA expects to operate on a balanced budget in 2010, a year earlier than anticipated.

Membership dues were reduced by 50% beginning with 2008. NTRA officials in early May said the withdrawal of Churchill Downs Inc. ($375,000 a year in dues) this year would have had a much greater impact before dues were cut.

The NTRA board of directors will meet June 3 in New York. One order of business is reviewing NTRA bylaws to determine how it will handle recent structural changes.

CDI had a committed seat—held by president and CEO Bob Evans—on the 15-member board, but the seat is gone. Also, with Delaware Park having dropped out for this year at least, the Eastern Region seat held by Delaware chief operating officer Bill Fasy is now open.

Bankrupt Magna Entertainment Corp., now owned by MI Developments, also has a permanent seat on the NTRA board. It was held by Santa Anita Park president Ron Charles, who resigned the week of May 18.