TCT to Proceed With Help From NTRA, Breeders' Cup

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association's proposed Thoroughbred Championship Tour will proceed with assistance from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the Breeders' Cup.

According to a statement released following a meeting Friday, the NTRA and Breeders' Cup will assist TCT in its negotiations with tracks and horsemen's groups.

Here is the text of the statement:

Representatives of TOBA and the proposed Thoroughbred Championship Tour met today with NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith and NTRA Vice Chair/Breeders' Cup President D.G. Van Clief, Jr. today and released the following meeting summary and joint statement:

1. The NTRA and Breeders' Cup reiterate their support for the TCT and its objectives of strengthening the scheduling and TV presentation of major-league horseracing; of better linking the VISA Triple Crown with the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships; of boosting purses and the financial rewards of race horse ownership; and of increasing leading owner involvement in the shaping of improved, televised racing series, along with stronger owner commitments to run their best horses in the most competitive and important races each year.

2. Subject to final approvals by the NTRA and BCL Boards, the NTRA staff has agreed to facilitate the further conversations and negotiations that would be required with tracks, horsemen's associations and others in order to implement the TCT and the Breeders' Cup has reiterated its commitment to the TCT.

3. In order to begin the process of securing the television time and potential sponsor support for such an improved presentation of the best in summer and fall racing, the NTRA and Breeders' Cup currently are working on expanded TV windows for 2004, an upgraded list of nationally featured races, improved coordination of the relevant stakes schedules, increased incentives for owner and track participation on these special days and other marketing and promotional enhancements.

4. These steps would be designed to sustain horse racing's significant growth in popularity in 2003, but would not by themselves achieve the full slate of goals contained in the TCT, e.g., binding owner commitments to race eligible horses, $7.5 million in bonus money, etc. Thus, the NTRA's 2004 plans, recently approved by the NTRA Board, can be considered partial, but incomplete progress towards a fully-developed TCT, which as noted the NTRA and Breeders' Cup also support

5. For their parts, the TOBA and TCT organizers reiterated the commitments to work with and fully support the NTRA and Breeders' Cup in creating, marketing and operating the proposed TCT.

6. TOBA board member Stuart Janney said, "Solid progress toward realization of the TCT continues to be made. We appreciate the renewed commitments and clarifications from the NTRA and Breeders' Cup."

7. Breeders' Cup President D.G. Van Clief, Jr. said, "The Breeders' Cup clearly supports the goals and objectives of the TCT. We also, of course, support the NTRA, with whom we operate a single, growing, increasingly effective virtual corporation. Our interests are fully aligned with the leading owners and breeders most instrumental in founding and supporting the TCT."

NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith said, "The TCT would definitely be progress in terms of the competitive format of the highest-quality racing that identifies and produces Breeders' Cup champions. We have offered to help in their negotiations with tracks and horsemen. I strongly believe that anything that increases the involvement of leading owners and their horses in world-class, televised racing is a positive. Now is the time to work together to sustain the momentum created in 2003 by Funny Cide and Seabiscuit, and to take racing to the next level."