NTRA Annual Report: Revenue Should Increase

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association anticipates bottom-line revenue for 2004 will come in at $400,000, up from $307,895 in 2003. Total operating revenues are expected to increase by more than $6 million this year.

Total revenue for 2004 is projected to be $67.2 million. The NTRA, which operates jointly with Breeders' Cup, said in its annual report that 51.7% of total revenue would come from Breeders' Cup through the World Thoroughbred Championships and nomination fees, 25.3% from membership dues, and 23% from television, purchasing, sponsorship, and promotions.

Total expenses for 2004 also are projected at $67.2 million. The largest expense is purses and awards at 31.5%, followed by advertising, marketing, and promotions at 30.1%, television at 15.6%, sponsorship and purchasing at 12.1%, general and administrative at 8.5%, and legislative and regulatory at 2.2%.

The NTRA anticipates revenue from membership dues will drop from $17.36 million last year to $16.97 million this year. Breeders' Cup revenue is expected to increase from $32.04 million last year to $34.75 million this year, while revenue from television, sponsorship, purchasing, and promotions would jump from $10.76 million in 2003 to $15.21 million in 2004.

In other financial notes, the NTRA said NTRA Productions, a subsidiary, has extended its agreement with Winnercom, which provides production and programming services for televised horse racing. In 2002 and 2003, NTRA Productions paid Winnercom $2.78 million and $2.86 million, respectively. That fee will continue to rise through 2008, when it will be $4.16 million.

NTRA Investments purchased Winner Communications for $27.5 million about four years ago. In 2002, the purchase agreement was amended to extend the pay-back through 2005.

The annual report also shows the NTRA has taken a loss in regard to founding membership by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. In 2000, TOBA agreed to pay $1 million in installments through 2005, but as of Dec. 31, 2003, the organization had paid only $250,000.

In February, the NTRA and TOBA agreed to restructure the terms. TOBA will pay an additional $250,000--about $83,000 by March 30 of 2004, 2005, and 2006. The settlement resulted in a "bad debt expense" of $436,076, the NTRA said in the annual report.

TOBA and Breeders' Cup currently are negotiating on a potential deal that would merge Breeders' Cup and the Thoroughbred Championship Tour, a racing series proposed by TOBA. The Breeders' Cup board of directors is expected to take action on the matter at its June meeting.

The NTRA rents office space in Lexington and New York City. For 2003, expenses totaled $814,000. From 2004 through 2008, the NTRA expects to pay $3.61 million in rent expenses.

As for compensation, NTRA corporate officers--commissioner Tim Smith, vice chairman D.G. Van Clief Jr., deputy commissioner Greg Avioli, and chief financial officer Ferguson Taylor, were paid $2.20 million in total cash compensation in 2003, up from $1.80 million in 2002, the report said.