HBPA president and chairman John Roark to serve third term in office.

HBPA president and chairman John Roark to serve third term in office.

Roark to Lead Restructured National HBPA

John Roark of Texas was elected to his third consecutive term as president of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association July 24 after the organization's board of directors approved a major restructuring plan.

Roark, who had served two two-year terms, was elected to a three-year term as president and chairman. There were no other nominees. Previously, the president's post was unpaid, but under the new structure, he will be paid an honorarium of $36,000 a year.

Dr. Ed Hagan, who has served as chairman of the board through four different presidents, was elected chairman emeritus. Hagan, of Oregon, will continue to represent the National HBPA at various industry functions under a directive that permits Roark to delegate duties to other officials.

Joe Santanna of Pennsylvania was elected secretary/treasurer. Should the president/chairman be unable to fulfill his or her duties, the secretary/treasurer would move into the top spot under the reorganization.

Roark, who ran unopposed for the first time, said he wanted to continue at the helm of the National HBPA to take care of what he called "unfinished business." He mentioned two items--establishing an international wagering hub to increase revenue for horsemen and working with other industry groups to establish the national Office of Wagering Security.

"An international racing hub is vital to the industry," Roark told the membership, which met in Toronto for its summer convention. "If we can get that up and operating, it could double purses, and you won't have to deal with racinos that could end up owning you if you're not too careful."

As for the national security office, Roark said the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, of which he is a board member, could very well establish it by September. Roark indicated the NTRA wants broad support for the office but could move ahead in the absence of industry consensus given the important nature of the project.

The pari-mutuel industry is currently under attack in Washington, D.C., given its reliance on Internet wagering, account wagering, and interstate simulcasts. Officials have said the industry must prove to legislators it has its house in order when it comes to security and integrity of wagers.

"How many of you want the federal government running your business?" Roark said.

The National HBPA board of directors also approved creation of four regional vice president posts. After a brief caucus, Tom Metzen of Minnesota was elected to head the Central region, Robin Richards of Virginia the Eastern region, Bill Walmsley of Arkansas the Southern region, and Dave Benson of Oregon the Western region on a temporary basis.

The position of executive director, currently filled by Remi Bellocq, has been changed to chief executive officer. Bellocq's title and responsibilities will change under the restructuring.

In other business, Hagan and Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida HBPA, were honored for their contributions to the national organization. Stirling heads the National HBPA Medication Committee.