Kentucky Horsemen Want New HBPA Elections

A petition calling for a new election of the president and board of directors of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has circulated in the wake of the resignation of Dr. Alex Harthill as president of the more than 6,000-member organization.

Almost 50 Kentucky HBPA members, most of them locally based trainers and owners, have signed the petition, which reads: "The undersigned, as concerned members of the Kentucky HBPA, are requesting an immediate new election for the office of the president, and also the board of directors. As horsemen and owners, we feel this is in the best interest of our organization and our membership."

Kentucky HBPA officials could not be reached immediately for comment on the petition, or how many votes are required for action.

Harthill, the Churchill Downs-based veterinarian, resigned July 10 when the Kentucky HBPA board voted at a closed meeting to end an investigation into financial transactions between a company co-owned by current and former Kentucky HBPA officers and Choctaw Racing Services, a Native American off-track betting network in Oklahoma.

The probe raised questions as to whether Century Consultants, Choctaw Racing Services, and horsemen's groups had violated federal statutes.

Harthill wanted the probe to continue, and said he believes "the integrity of the association has been badly damaged." Harthill contends money is still unaccounted for, though other HBPA officials counter that only a few thousand dollars is missing.

Harthill also took issue with the Kentucky HBPA board's refusal to pay for legal services rendered by Joseph Cohen, who in the past has provided legal services to Harthill.

After Harthill's resignation, the board quickly elected Susan Bunning to serve as president. The individuals who have signed the petition apparently believe the election should be open to the entire membership. Harthill said he would remain a member of the Kentucky HBPA despite his resignation as president.