'Tour' Plan Details Up For Discussion Again in June

Representatives of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association met for the second time May 15 to discuss the future of the Thoroughbred Championship Tour, a for-profit racing series that would rely on owners for start-up funds.

"I was encouraged by the progress made from the first meeting to the second meeting," TOBA president Dan Metzger said a day after the meeting held in Maryland. "A lot of details and a lot of specifics were addressed, and a lot more will be addressed at our next meeting in June."

The two groups first met in April, when the TCT business plan was circulated. The plan calls for Thoroughbred owners to make a substantial initial investment, a rearranging of stakes schedules at major racetracks, and a system by which a percentage of pari-mutuel handle would help fund the series.

Metzger said there is support for the TCT concept. "The critical step is to get all those issues addressed and agreed up, and then take it to the next level," he said.

NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said that, from a marketing standpoint, the TCT is attractive because it would add five major racing days to the calendar and 10 hours of television time for the sport. It also addresses the issue of how to keep the audience focused on racing between the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

"(The meeting) was productive, but as you'd expect with anything new and different, there are plenty of details to be resolved," Smith said May 16. "(NTRA) committee members continue to think the concept is strong and the motives behind it are positive. There are a lot of moving parts and issues."

Smith confirmed the next meeting would be in June the week of the Belmont Stakes, which is scheduled for June 7.