New 13-Member Board to Govern Breeders' Cup

Breeders' Cup will have a new, leaner 13-member board of directors that could be in place as soon as Jan. 8, 2006, the date of its next scheduled meeting.

The board Nov. 4 approved governance changes and a new mission statement for the organization, which has a joint operating agreement with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. The new structure was recommended by the board's governance working group and enacted through bylaws changes.

Breeders' Cup will establish a board of trustees--the current 48-member board of directors--that will elect a 13-member board of directors. The current shareholder voting system based on Breeders' Cup foal and stallion nominations will elect the trustees.

The board of directors will assume primary responsibility for overseeing activities of the corporation. The election process will begin before the end of November.

"We decided a large board can be quite cumbersome," Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. said after the meeting. "It's great because it allows for broad outreach to a diverse group of constituents. That's a good thing. The difficult thing is that it's not conducive to quick action and doesn't operate as efficiently as a small, nimble group."

Van Clief, also commissioner of the NTRA, said the Breeders' Cup committee system would be modified. The executive committee, for instance, could go from nine members to four, he said.

The board also approved a one-year operating and licensing agreement with the NTRA. It originally was a 10-year deal that is up for review at the end of the fifth year, which is 2005. It was changed to mirror the new NTRA membership structure for 2006-10--five years with an opt-out clause after one year.

"Another part of the agreement is there would be a more proactive role on the part of Breeders' Cup in overseeing, developing, and approving the joint operating budget," Van Clief said. "The Breeders' Cup board would like to be part of the development of the budget much earlier in the year."

The NTRA board of directors will consider the revised agreement at its next meeting Dec. 1.

The revised Breeders' Cup mission statement calls for promotion of the Thoroughbred industry and its economic growth through a world championship day with supporting events; encouraging participation both within the industry and among the fan base; maintaining the highest level of integrity within the industry; continuing to improve the Thoroughbred breed; providing leadership to the industry; and providing frequent communication with members.

The board took no action on a proposed purse hike for the World Thoroughbred Championships. Van Clief said he believes there is board support to raise purses for the eight grade I events from $14 million to $20 million, but noted: "We have a bit more work to do to determine how to get there."

There could be a recommendation on purses at the January meeting, he said.