NTRA Approves 'Rebranding'; New Caucus to Meet

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors firmed up its plans for the "rebranding" of the Breeders' Cup during a meeting Friday, and also welcomed John Van de Kamp, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, as a member. Van de Kamp, former attorney general of California, will fill the seat of owner Bob Lewis, who was recognized for his service.

Meanwhile, the NTRA's Racing and Breeding Caucus announced it will meet for the first time June 21 in Washington, D.C. Members of Congress will be told of the importance of the equine racing and breeding industries, as well as related agribusiness.

Rep. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky and Rep. Karen Thurman of Florida chair the caucus, the idea for which was developed in the past year. In 2000, officials found themselves having to explain the importance and scope of the industry to the U.S. Justice Department and legislators.

According to the NTRA, the meeting will feature an economic overview of the horse industry, the role of industry organizations, and a summary of legislative issues. The impact of mare reproductive loss syndrome is expected to be on the agenda; the industry is seeking legislative aid.

The NTRA board, which met in Arlington Heights, Ill., said details of the repackaging and rebranding of the Breeders' Cup will be announced June 26 in New York City. The board also reviewed a draft of the revised business plan for 2001-2005. The plan, which incorporates Breeders' Cup Ltd., will be distributed for public comment in the near future.

Plans for a national advertising campaign for racing were discussed. The campaign, to begin in late July and run through the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup, is designed to raise awareness among "light" or "lapsed" fans per research results released earlier this year.

In addition, the board discussed recommendations of the NTRA Task Force on Economic Regulation at the state level. The NTRA hopes to target high taxation on pari-mutuel handle and racetrack revenue.