Indiana HBPA Dispute Could Be Far From Over

Three ousted members of the Indiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association board of directors won a small battle Jan. 24 when the National HBPA executive committee ruled in their favor and recommended a new election. However, it appears the war between two Indiana HBPA factions is far from over.

Jim Riddle was elected Indiana HBPA president, and Larry Smallwood and James Hauswald were elected to the board Nov. 1, but were removed on a 6-5 vote Nov. 15 after allegations they had broken bylaws regarding campaigning.

The Indiana HBPA represents Thoroughbred horsemen at Indiana Downs, which races from late April through June, and Hoosier Park, which races from late August through November.

"They were told they didn't have a case to stand on--they had absolutely no proof whatsoever," said Riddle, who was on hand in Tampa, Fla., for the National HBPA meeting. "There are several attorneys on the executive committee that said we shouldn't be listening to this."

The debate is centered on an October 2005 e-mail sent to members of the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, a group to which the three Indiana HBPA board members are affiliated, listing all ITOBA members running for election. The e-mail, along with a flyer said to have been posted at a southern Indiana training center, were considered a violation of HBPA bylaws.

During the Jan. 24 meeting, Riddle said the executive committee asked him if he was interested in the Indiana HBPA holding a new election. As part of the recommendation, a new election would be conducted and advertisements in several trade publications would be taken out to explain the situation and inform horsemen as to the reason for holding a new election.

The executive committee also offered to hire a neutral third party to count ballots. Arbitration also is possibility. Riddle said he was comfortable with the recommendation, but those on hand from the local organization--executive director Don Kubovchik, current president Randy Klopp, and Ron McKay, Liz Klopp, and Steve Stults--were not, he said.

Because the Indiana HBPA is not bound by any decision passed down from the National HBPA, Riddle said he believes the next step for himself, Smallwood, and Hauswald is court. He said he was happy with the executive committee's recommendation but was well aware it wouldn't serve to resolve the issues.

"I've been trying to resolve this since the middle of November," Riddle said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm headed to court. They thought I'd go away."