Proposal Would Increase NTRA Membership, Dues

Affiliates of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association are considering a proposal that would allow them to join the National Thoroughbred Racing Association with a lump-sum payment that would increase dues 21% in the first year.

Currently, 11 National HBPA affiliates are NTRA members. In 2006, they will pay a total of $1.42 million. Another 18 affiliates are not NTRA members, either by choice or because of jurisdictional restrictions on how purse money can be spent. The plan would allow them to increase contributions to the National HBPA, which in turn would send the money to the NTRA.

Three National HBPA affiliates pay the bulk of dues--Kentucky ($597,000), Florida ($458,000), and Texas ($214,000).

The proposal is based on a tiered structure tied to National HBPA affiliate dues. If all non-members were to join, the NTRA would get another $320,000, or a total of $1.72 million.

The proposal was floated last summer. National HBPA president John Roark said he got two responses: the Tampa Bay HBPA said it would buy in; the Michigan HBPA said it couldn't continue paying dues because ongoing financial woes have caused a 60% decrease in income for Thoroughbred racing since 1998.

Roark said he still hopes to have the lump-sum payment plan in place for 2007. Along with Tampa Bay, other affiliates that aren't NTRA members are the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Charles Town HBPA, Mountaineer HBPA, New England HBPA, and Ohio HBPA ($25,000 each under the proposal); Alabama HBPA, Arizona HBPA, Arkansas HBPA, Finger Lakes HBPA, Illinois HBPA, Iowa HBPA, Oklahoma HBPA, Oregon HBPA, Pennsylvania HBPA, and Virginia HBPA ($15,000 each); and the Colorado HBPA, Indiana HBPA, Kansas HBPA, and Montana HBPA ($10,000 each).

The Ontario HBPA is considering NTRA membership and plans to meet with NTRA Purchasing president Joe Morris in February to discuss membership, executive director Nick Coukos said. The Louisiana HBPA rejoined last year.

"By next year, those (affiliates) who have been members all along would get some relief, and (new memberships) would give us a tremendous amount of power in the organization," Roark said. "It's becoming a very good trade association."

Roark, who represents the National HBPA on the NTRA board of directors, said the NTRA has made important progress in the legislative arena in Washington, D.C., and has an effective group-purchasing plan. Roark said Morris is now the horsemen's contact given a new role for Keith Chamblin as senior vice president of communications for the NTRA.

"If we use it right," Roark said of the group-purchasing program, "eventually we won't have to pay dues, and we'll be doing our members a service."

The lump-sum plan is based on two years. After that period, the NTRA would have to demonstrate the benefits of membership and convince the affiliates to remain members.